One of the best and, conversely, most frustrating aspects of FIFA 08 was its debuting Be A Pro mode. Finally, we had the chance to play as one player in our favoured position. In this sense, the mode was undoubtedly a triumph. But where was the career mode? Thankfully, UEFA Euro 2008 looks set to rectify that omission.
Captain Your Country is a mode in which you and up to three other players (either human or AI-controlled) choose a player from your favourite European (international) team and embark on a twenty-five match campaign, during which you must outperform your rivals and earn the right to become captain. "The idea is that you each have a real or created player and you all start off as B internationals for the same team," explains Humber. "Through your performances you need to persuade your manager to keep picking you and ultimately make you captain. There's a real-time rating system that rates your performance from how well you play your role to how many goals you create and score."
Euro 2008's other major selling point is a feature called Battle of the Nations, which will pit the skills of players from across Europe against each other in order to determine which country has the most adept players (or the ones with the most amount of free time). Here's how it works. For every match you play (on or offline) you'll be awarded points. Play as a top team against lowly opposition and you'll only be modestly rewarded. However, whip one of the superpowers as a lowlier team and you'll be lavished with points.
It's certainly promising to see that this principle will also apply to online tournaments and games, as it'll hopefully help negate FIFA 08's Barcelona syndrome and give less experienced players a fighting chance against hardcore opponents. At the end of each day, a points average will be compiled online for players from every country and the nation with the highest average will be victorious. "Come June 30th we'll declare the champion nation and gamer and if you're in the top 250 players, you'll get a special trophy that goes in your trophy screen," promises Humber.
Another new addition is the Tournaments Make Stars feature. At the start of your qualifying campaign your star players will be rated with a gold, silver or bronze star. However, throughout the campaign, some of your best players may perform poorly, while other members of your squad may surpass themselves, causing their ratings to fluctuate. Granted, it may not be groundbreaking, but it's certainly a nice touch. Rounding off the package are the Story of Qualifying mode (in which you must attempt to recreate heroic comebacks from the actual qualifying campaign) and an Online Knockout Cup.
UEFA Euro 2008 certainly has the potential to build successfully on the qualities of FIFA 08, and Humber is confident that England's failure to qualify won't affect UK sales. We're not, but we'll leave you to debate that one. Either way, we may find that EA's mid-year UEFA-branded offering isn't just a stopgap between FIFAs. We'll let you know for sure when we've put the review code through its pace.