Football games or Soccer games as they are known to our loveable friends over the pond are now available everywhere, every publisher you can think of has at least one footy game to their name and that's the way it will continue.
There is no doubt that EA® are the masters of the game, their range of FIFA® titles is the longest running and everyone of them pushes the gameplay further and is possibly the best footy game the world.
Interplay have gone for a similar type of game as EA's FIFA but it only concentrates on the UEFA® cup, a competition played by the best football teams in Europe to see who really is the best. Among the teams you get to play are Manchester United (the current champions), Barcelona and Real Madrid, plus a host of other contenders hoping to be crowned champions of europe.
The story of the game, which is shown nicely in the long but excellent intro movie, is that you choose your favourite team and take them to the cup through a series of gruelling and hard hitting games.
As with any football game, the aim is to score more goals than the opponents and to keep the opponents from scoring. UEFA's gameplay is fast and furious, a setting which can be altered, and is quite recommended until you get the feel of the game. You can alter the speed of the game and also how hard the computer pushes to your men and how hard it pushes towards your goal.
Setting the amount the game pushes it quite enough and the standard speed of the game is perfectly ok and provides a reasonable amount of attacking and counter attacking movement across the pitch that will satisfy and fan of the game.
Other settings for the game are mainly related to the teams and the formation you play in during the actual game. This did not seem too important to me until I found that in one formation the computer kept lobbing the ball over my back line to one of their players who would stay onside and almost score everytime, damn intelligent computers.
The movement of your players, the moves they can performs and all the little nice bits and bobs added to the game make it very worthwhile to play. One of the best little features that I found accidentally was that the ball bounces off the players. I found that out while trying to play a ball to one side of the pitch to the other. I pressed the wrong button and my player lobbed it straight to the other side of the pitch. Not what I wanted but that was too late and to my amazement the ball bounced off one of the opposition and went completely in the wrong direction and landed right at the feet of one of my players who passed to another and we scored, that was pretty cool!
Loads of features in the game are great, the through ball, which takes a little time to get used to is great for scoring off the volley or getting the ball behind the oppositions back line to relieve some pressure. One problem I did find was that tackling is very hard to get away with, or even do. In most games I end up with at least four or five men on yellow cards, and without failure penalties are evident in most games I play, but I still win so that don't matter.
The controls in the game are great, it's worth the time to read the manual to find out what each button does and what it will do if your in control of the ball and not.
The keep the ball close button is good if you like running at defences, it makes the opposition harder to tackle you and allows a lot of control such as running around players and taking shots from the edge of the box close to the oppositions defence.
This is the easiest game I have played yet. Heading is an absolute dream to do, just press X while the ball is in the air and your player will attempt to head the ball in the direction you are pressing on the pad.
The passing option allows you to pass to a highlighted player, this is usually shown on the screen as a red arrow pointing in the direction of the player you are going to pass to or a red cross under the player if they are onscreen. The passing game is by far the easiest to play, it is possible to pass the ball to the wings and run down the line past all defenders then one quick through ball or cross and chances come flooding in.
However this is not always the case, not taking anything away from the AI, they have good times too, especially if you're no good at tackling. There have been a few times that the opposition have found a good bit of play that really transforms the game their way, just as you like to play, so does the computer, pressuring when they can and getting just as many chances as you to score goals.
Beware, the computer is good at this game!
The graphics in the game are really good, they look nice and the overall quality is up there with the best of them
The intro animation is really good, from the effects of the ball in the centre circle to the stadium transforming from a grey piece of concrete to a place full of cheering fans by a wave of what can only be called energy from the ball in the centre.
The menu graphics are nice, not too flashy, but that's not really the game is it?. They serve their purpose well and are pleasing to the eye.
As for the actual game itself, well, the players are nicely animated, they seem to run on the pitch, not glide like in a few other games and the interaction with the ball seems to be realistic, with the ball reacting to what the players do in time to what they do.
As for the sound effects, well they are really good. It really feels like there is a crowd cheering you on, enjoying a great game of football. While the commentary can sometimes be a little late or very rarely read the situation wrong it overall is really good with comments about the keepers stopping balls, a chance being wasted or a really good ball played to a good position. While the necessary halftime predictions and full time comments are included for good measure.
There is one small thing though, and it applies to all footy games, this just seems like a good place to say this, is that the fans in the stadium are always flat textures. In this day and age of 3D accelerators moving 400+ mega, giga polygons or whatever they are called then id expect a little bit better texturing for the crowds to make it look as if the crowds are there. Maybe even add some proper polygon people to make it look realistic, most games look as if there is water all around the pitch!
Well, his is a good game, I like it, its plays well, sounds well, but while FIFA keeps coming out with all of its innovations and game tweaks, this will have to take the back burner for a while.