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 UEFA Champions League 06/07
UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 Review

FootballÖ With cards.

In little over a year, EA has managed to churn out four FIFA games. The single biggest question needing answered in this review then: whatís new? The simple answerÖ not much. UCL is near identical to its FIFA 07 counterpart which, depending on your loyalty to Konamiís Pro Evolution Soccer 6, can be great news or a kick in the balls (Footballs, of course).

Gameplay-wise, passing and shooting are frighteningly accurate, with pinpoint passes and shooting varying not only on direction of the analogue stick, but almost all passes can be lightly or heavily hit depending on the length of the button press. This makes for a more realistic experience, something EA are trying to hit home on in a bid to catch up with the legion of Pro Ev supporters. However there are still problems. Changing players seems to take slightly longer than it should do and players still wait stationery for the ball if he isnít the ended target of a pass. So the game can be a frustrating experience, but highly rewarding if your pinpoint passes and crosses yield some spectacular goals.

Now to the cardsÖ

Essentially this is the feature that will make or break your decision to pick up UCL. The manual and in-game tutorial overly-complicate the card collecting process. Essentially, you have a starter pack of cards containing players, kits, coaches, stadiums in addition to non-tangible items such as contract extension cards. Collecting cards can prove addictive, plus you can even trade cards online with players looking for cards you might be looking to ditch. Ultimately, the aim is to assemble a dream team with the best players, taking into account each players nationality, age and preferred formation to ensure everything runs as smooth as a freshly oiled machine. On the flipside, itís footballÖ and cards. Some will take one look at ultimate team mode and revert back to the traditional modes, and miss out on potentially tens of hours of playing and collecting. For those less pessimistic about the FIFA franchise, this is without a doubt the best new game mode seen a football game since online was introduced.

Another game mode worth noting is (surprise, surprise) Champions League mode. Here you pick your favourite team, whether they were involved in the CL or not, and guide them from the group stages all the way to the finals. A cool new addition to this mode is live updates that pop up from relevant games at the top right hand side of the screen, with the commentary team noting the significance. A minor detail, but adds to the authenticity nonetheless.

Speaking of which, ITVís Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend provide the commentary, and do a decent job too. They do however become repetitive like most sport games, and youíll be wanting to enable the custom soundtrack option after a dozen or so games.

Chances are if youíre buying the Xbox 360 version of UCL, youíll be interested in the online component. Quite frankly, EA have nailed it. If one-on-one is your fancy, you can have it old school. However get together 3 friends and you can jump into four player co-op action (thatís eight players, folks) over Xbox Live, and take your created team with you. Offline multiplayer is also great fun, supporting up to four players in any shape or form you wish. Also, the lounge mode from FIFA 07 returns, where you and seven friends can play each other and keep track of your history and statistics. Based on how well you play, you can unlock power-ups to swing the odds in your favour.

Overall, credit is due here to EA for trying something different. Mixing football and cards might not seem ideal for everyone, but itís new, itís addictive and, if you stick in there, itís fun. Itís a shame then, that frustrating gameplay has once again riddled EAís latest attempt to outdo Konamiís famed franchise.

7.5 out of 10

Buy UEFA Champions League 06/07 now at Play.com
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