Version tested: Xbox 360
Sometimes when you're reviewing downloadable content, you're not really reviewing the content at all - you're reviewing the business model. UEFA Euro 2012 is a prime example. The content itself is actually very good - some new modes that have been well thought through and packaged up nicely - but the price tag overshadows all of that.
It's a shame, because there's a lot of good stuff here, starting with the Euro 2012 game mode itself, which goes about its business in cheesy and obvious fashion but remains pleasantly atmospheric throughout. You can work your way through the tournament as your preferred nation against the AI or online against other players, and if you choose the latter then each of your fixtures is fulfilled by a real person (and if they rage-quit when you're 5-0 up then you're awarded the victory).
You get to tour the real stadiums, while injuries and suspensions persist throughout the tournament and commentators Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend reel off anecdotes about previous championships. UEFA has come up with a rather fetching set of flowery tournament graphics for the real-life Euro 2012 competition in Poland and Ukraine, which means the content is all colourfully wrapped and nice to look at too.
Sure, the main differences between the new stadiums are the camera viewing angles (jarringly low in the group stages in Gdansk, up in the rafters in Donetsk) while Tyldesley and Townsend are soon repeating their Euro stories or spouting generic stuff about how "this team" has lost one group game and is now on the brink. But it feels different enough and the online tournament especially is satisfying to battle through.
Even so, the Euro 2012 mode itself isn't the best thing about Euro 2012. It isn't even the second-best thing. The second-best is a series of challenges, which usually involve picking up a team in a losing position or with a player missing and then trying to turn things around, and these promise to be updated throughout the finals as new and exciting scenarios present themselves (e.g. "Don't lose on penalties in the quarter-finals you overpaid duffers"). And then there's Expedition mode.
Expedition invites you to assemble a European super team and conquer the continent with them. You start out with a team of plodding kludgers and one star player (or a Virtual Pro), playing minnows like San Marino, and as you defeat other international teams you get to nick one of their reserves. Beat them again and you can steal one of their subs. Do it a third time and you get a first-teamer. With graft and luck you can fight your way across Europe and create a team of European galacticos.
The scenarios mode, called Story of the Finals, began life in the 2010 World Cup game and morphed into FIFA 12's Football Club mode. The new context makes it compelling again, but Expedition is the real star, and much more fun than the regular FIFA 12 Career mode. The only thing that would improve it would be adding online competition, similar to how the World Tour mode works in the better-than-expected FIFA Street.
There are some less than brilliant things about Euro 2012, of course, like the fact you can't play the qualification rounds, and the discovery, disappointing to some, that only half the teams in Euro 2012 are officially licensed, meaning the rest are stocked with made-up players. EA blames "limited resources" for this, which frankly just sounds like they're trolling us.
But, really, the main issue with Euro 2012 is that it costs £15.99. If it cost half that, this would probably be a must-have for a lot of people (although I realise that DLC is enormously polarising and your mileage may vary). But that price immediately makes it one of the most expensive things you can download on PlayStation Network or Xbox Live - more expensive than Journey, Fez or Trials Evolution, each of which is a complete game that has far greater intrinsic worth for a range of reasons.
For years, gamers have been moaning that EA Sports should release tournament-themed games at lower prices or as add-ons (moaning and then buying them at full price anyway, incidentally). This, of course, is a lower price, but it turns out what we really wanted was to see those games released in a different context.
2010 FIFA World Cup, for example, was quite expensive for what it was, but it also tweaked the gameplay fundamentals in a way that gave it the edge over FIFA 10. The alterations made (such as goalkeepers who stuck to the goal-line so they wouldn't get lobbed constantly) weren't as robust as those introduced by the proper FIFA game later that year (it turns out goalies shouldn't stick to the line either) but they made matters interesting again for a while. Euro 2012 doesn't alter the FIFA 12 fundamentals at all, so all you are paying for is new game modes.
EA Sports has done about as much as it's possible to do within that framework - different scenarios, online/offline versions of the licensed tournament, and a career mode with a new twist - but it feels as though the price has been downgraded a disproportionately small amount compared to the content. Whether or not you agree with that will determine whether you want to buy Euro 2012. Me? I would grudgingly buy it, despite feeling that I was being charged too much for too little. I guess that makes me part of the problem.
6 / 10