Every four years, the top European national soccer teams meet in the EURO tournament, generally regarded as the sport's most prestigious event not called the World Cup. The 16-team, 23-day event began Saturday. Coinciding with the event few Americans care about is, of course, a video game.
Electronic Arts' UEFA EURO 2004 ($30-$40, PC, PlayStation2, XBox) is the next soccer title from the company that produced the very good and extremely popular FIFA line.
Because UEFA EURO 2004 focuses on European soccer instead of looking at the game globally, it is more limited than FIFA Soccer 2004, which featured 350 teams from across the globe and set the standard for its genre.
UEFA EURO 2004 includes a morale meter that imbues the game with a human element. If a team or individual plays poorly, they may not be as sharp in the next game. EURO 2004's game play and graphics are smooth. Announcers give insightful commentary and rarely repeat themselves, and crowds chanting in each country's native language is a nice touch.
The game is technically sound, as the ball bends and curves naturally. Occasionally the referee doesn't blow his whistle when a foul occurs, a welcome break from previous games.
Though UEFA EURO 2004 should please soccer video game enthusiasts, it doesn't do much for the casual fan, just as EA would have trouble trying to persuade Americans fond of Madden NFL 2004 to purchase a game that revolves around NFL Europe.
-- Jon Gallo