Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Review: UEFA Champions League

Being a soccer video game lover is a lot like being a “Lost” addict. The history is there so you always think if you’re patient enough, it’ll get better. Wonderful memories of great moments dance through your mind as a new game/episode awaits, and every time you have to convince your friends that normally its better than this and they haven’t seen its real potential. Instead of being convincing, you come off like a desperate boyfriend trying to reconcile with a girl who has moved on.
Of course, I’m hard-headed so I don’t even bother to pay attention to my own advice. This might explain why I was so excited when I popped “UEFA Champions League 2006-2007” in my Xbox 360. Sure the name is long, convoluted and rolls off the tongue about as well as a Sanskrit adjective but since it was from EA, I had to be in good hands right? Right? As the Dread Pirate Wesley once said, get used to disappointment.
“UEFA” isn’t without a few attractive qualities. The game looks great. The stadiums are stunning, the players look and move realistically, and the lighting is first rate. The pitch in particular looks so real you can practically smell the grass. Then there is of course, the all inclusive licensing. Unlike its Konami counterpart, you won’t find any Merseyside Red here, just the beautiful kits of my beloved Liverpool along with all the players on the actual roster. Its great! Too bad the game play can’t keep up.
The passing is woefully inaccurate, with about half of your passes going straight to the defense. Goal scoring is superb, if you’re the type of gamer who likes to work so hard at something it gives you a brain aneurysm. The cause of all of this is the abysmal controls, which are some of the most counter intuitive I’ve ever experienced in a sports sim.
It gets worse. The game modes are bare bones - Play Now, Tournament, Ultimate Team and Challenge Mode. While Ultimate Team (build your own team using trading cards) is intriguing and Challenge Mode (reliving classic games) are interesting, there’s no league play-in for the UEFA tourney. Why isn’t the ability to win the Premier League an option?
Then there are the most egregious errors. The created player is only able to be used in Play Now mode? What the heck is the point of that?!? And when did this become standard procedure among sports titles? And imagine my surprise as I’m playing against Everton and I notice a PlayStation 3 advertisement on the wall around the field! Did I mention I was playing this on my Xbox 360? This game isn't even available on the PS3! How did this get past quality control? Billy needs to fire somebody.
UEFA Champions League 2006-2007
Price: $29.99 – $59.99
Rating: E (Everyone)
Category: Soccer sim
Players: 1-2 (8 online)
Formats: Xbox 360, PS2, PSP
Grade: C-
Top 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Liverpool
1. This year the city is celebrating its 800th anniversary
2. The local airport is called John Lennon Airport
3. It’s the most filmed British city outside of London
4. Liverpool is the most successful soccer city in England with 27 League Championships, 5 European Cups. 3 Eufa cups, 1 cup Winners cup, 12 FA Cups and 6 League Cups
5. Video game developer Bizarre Creations, the creators of the Project Gotham Racing series are based in Liverpool.

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