Note: DLC by its very nature serves to add playability to an existing game, usually without changing the foundation of that game. For this reason our DLC reviews will not be scored in the same manner as our full game reviews. Instead, DLC reviews will conclude with a “yes” or “no” verdict. We will of course still give an overview and analysis of the DLC so readers can come to their own conclusion. The verdict simply serves as a gut reaction, based on how the reviewer feels about the content offered versus the price of the DLC in question.
Since the first installment in 1996, games based on the UEFA Euro tournament have been released as standalone games (typically at full retail price). This year, EA Sports has opted to release UEFA Euro 2012 as a $20 expansion to FIFA 12. It’s easy to see the sense in such a move. Standalone soccer games based on tournaments like the World Cup or UEFA Euro tap the exact same market of players; a group that is unlikely to buy another full price soccer game a few months after they already purchased one. The strategy is effective, provided the expansion is good enough: entice those players to buy a cheaper, more convenient add-on and keep FIFA in the tray of their consoles. Expect to see EA continue this trend, regardless of the reception for this year’s offering.
UEFA Euro 2012 has its own heading on the main menu and is simple to access, as it should be. Launching the add-on leads to a hub completely separate from the rest of the FIFA 12 experience. A colorful and bombastic animation of the logo for this year’s tournament will play each time the add-on is accessed, but fortunately can be skipped by those not interested in seeing it more than once. After the opening, players will be able to select their desired text and commentary language. Both French and English get new commentary unique to UEFA Euro, while Mexican Spanish gets left out.
There are five modes available once in the hub: Kick-Off, UEFA Euro 2012, Online, Challenges, and Expedition. Kick-Off is an exhibition match for all intents and purposes, and allows only the default teams to be used. In a larger view, the mode is only useful for practicing with new teams included in the DLC or playing head-to-head on the same couch with a friend. In fact, the add-on doesn’t even allow players to use their virtual pro in exhibition; somewhat a grievous oversight, considering the main game does.
The UEFA tournament mode has more options, but even it feels limited due to lack of depth. The tournament can proceed in a fashion equivalent to its real-life counterpart, or players can alter the initial groups with new teams who in reality didn’t qualify. Beyond winning the trophy, there’s no draw to revisit the tournament which is the mode’s failing. Truthfully, there’s only so much that can be done with a tournament mode that mirrors a real event, but even having an optional part of the mode that would allow players to attempt to qualify for the group stage would help add something to it.
Instead, the burden of portraying the qualifying rounds falls to the Challenges mode. At present, the mode only has one scenario on a timer; it’s unclear if it will remain a single scenario that rotates, or if multiple scenarios will be added to the list as time goes on. Otherwise, Challenges are identical to the EASFC Challenge given to the community every few days, where players earn experience for their virtual pro and profile by completing the objective of that match.
The Online mode is the battle for the Henri Delaunay Cup carried out in an online tournament. The layout of the group stage doesn’t reflect the real-life groupings and isn’t set up by any individual player prior to the tournament begins. Players choose a team and are placed into a random group; the next opponent is determined through matchmaking. The whole thing works as an asynchronous tournament, which is frankly a little confusing. Matchmaking was also very slow when trying to find a match, but that could be attributed to a lack of FIFA 12 players with the UEFA Euro DLC.
Expedition mode works like the World Tour mode in FIFA Street mixed with a bit of RISK, and is the standout mode in the add-on. Players pick a team captain, customize their team, and using a team of reserves, travel from country to country taking on opponents to beat and build a better fantasy team. Beating teams unlocks more nations to travel to and builds roads between them. Roads are especially important because they are the only method by which a player can move from one nation to another. They add a strategic element to deciding which countries to take on: losing can sometimes result in roads being destroyed, cutting off access to countries.
Expedition is also the method by which FIFA 12 pulls virtual pros into UEFA. Players can opt to use their pro as the team captain, meaning that all the hard work someone has put into their pro doesn’t go to waste in the add-on. It also gives players some new challenges to overcome as most have seen and done everything at this point in FIFA 12‘s life cycle. The only questionable part of Expedition is the ultimate goal of the mode, which is to collect pictures from defeated teams in order to create a mosaic. It’s not a good reason to play, but fortunately it won’t be what attracts players to the mode.
Overall, the UEFA Euro 2012 add-on feels lacking in terms of interesting content to justify the price tag. A huge strike against the DLC is something that isn’t readily apparent at first: there are new teams to FIFA 12 among the 53 nations represented, but 24 of those teams (such as Ukraine, Slovakia, and Wales) are unlicensed. Even with the eight official stadiums of the tournament present, that’s a pretty unforgivable decision in a genre that is all about authenticity. The core game play, soundtrack, and visuals remain unchanged from FIFA 12, which you can read about in our full review of the game.
Final Verdict: No, unless you really, really need a soccer fix. Even then, most of your time will be spent in Expedition mode.