UEFA Euro 2008
Electronic Arts, for Xbox 360, $49.99Rating: **1/2
It'd been awhile since I last played a sports simulation. So it was nice to pop in a decent soccer game from EA Sports.
The challenge: Pick from more than 50 Euro soccer teams and try to lead your team to the championship.
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As usual, graphics are good and EA's soccer engine is second-to-none. Gameplay-wise, this is as good as it gets for soccer sims, down to being able to see your team manager react – good or bad – on the sidelines based on your play.
The game even mimics the winter weather in Europe. Frequent driving rains cause muddy fields and realistic play on it (meaning you slip and slide a lot, and your uniform shows dirt and lots of it).
A new mode, “Captain Your Country,” allows you to work your way up through eight levels to become your team's captain. I couldn't hang in long enough to make it all the way, but it's a great way to improve your skills.
A cool new online feature called “Battle of the Nations” allows you to represent your team online and earn points. Your points are tracked via your username online, and you can view how you stack up against other gamers on the leaderboard at www.easportsfootball.com.
Empire Games, for Nintendo DS, $29.99Rating: *
Once upon a time, “Myst” was one of the bigger names in the video-game business. This new handheld version doesn't do its predecessors justice.
For one thing, there's not enough direction – you just sort of wander around. Another problem is the graphics. It's hard to really get engrossed when the environments look so pixelated and small. I spent too much time hitting the zoom button, and not enough enjoying the game.
On top of all this, you sometimes really have to tap the stylus hard to make the game react. It gets frustrating, especially with the tiny graphics.
This was a gem on a PC or old-school consoles. On the DS, it's a “leave-it-at-the-store-and-pick-something-else” game.News and notes
Two new “Guitar Hero” titles are on the way. “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” follows the classic rock band's journey from first gig to superstardom and includes several of its greatest hits. “Guitar Hero: On Tour” for Nintendo DS uses a new “Guitar Grip” control that fits into the DS along with a pick/stylus.
Gameloft has an agreement with the NBA to make official basketball games for mobile phones. First up is “NBA Smash!,” a 2-on-2 street game. In the fall, a 5-on-5 game will launch.