EA has now fully embraced online connectivity in UEFA Euro 2008 and this means you can join online clans, play in tournaments, ranked single matches, or unranked matches. The online mode requires you to register with EA which is done through the game. Considering you already have an Xbox Live gamertag this seems slightly unnecessary, however the process only took a few minutes. The upside to this is a number of statistics are stored on your profile for friends and the like to view.
A number of lobbies in the online mode allow you to meet up with people in your skill category or your country, which is a nice feature, but it doesn’t seem to be used enough. The quick match works well and attempts to match you up with another player of your skill level. This works quickly and if no-one is found immediately you can put it on hold which means the game will alert you when it finds someone to play, leaving you free to browse the menus (not very entertaining, unfortunately).
My foray into the online mode resulted in great frustration however when I was matched up with players of vastly greater skill levels. This combined with a small amount of lag made for a depressing match, where I conceded goal after goal without scoring once. The worst part about this, is thanks to the lack of a tutorial, it's impossible to truly figure out where you are making mistakes and what it is that the other player is doing that your not. However practice does make perfect, and bit by bit the game makes more and more sense.
What does help to ease the initial frustrations however, is the incredible sound track that EA has lined up for UEFA Euro 2008. There is a mix of music from a range of nations and its a real pleasure to have it playing in the background. Another nice touch is the addition of a national anthem when you win a game, which, if playing for your favourite team, really helps give you pleasure from a win. Overall the sound effects are some of the best so far, with stadium announcers in the language of the home team, and the inclusion of chants from the crowd, as well as jeering and urging on. The commentators are also good and their comments usually accurately reflect the action on the field, with little repetition. This is an area that EA has traditionally excelled at, and UEFA Euro 2008 is no exception.
UEFA Euro 2008 is all in all a slick well presented football (soccer) package. Well presented and with beautiful graphics it is a pleasure to look at. The high learning curve is frustrating at times, considering the lack of a tutorial or any real explanation of the different controls and what they do or how to pull them off. This means it's very much a trial and error experience, however the fast paced gameplay gives you little time to really have a play around with the ball. This is a game that will appeal most to veterans of previous EA soccer titles who will find the controls easier to manage. The inclusion of an in-depth online mode also means you can take on other people around the world which should keep UEFA Euro 2008 challenging for much longer. Overall a good effort which has built on strengths. EA are definitely going in the right direction, but they’re not quite there yet.