Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Game Reviews

By Gavin Phipps and Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

UEFA Euro 2004

Local and international distributor: EA Sports

Platform: PC, X-Box and PS2(PC and X-Box only in Taiwan)
Taiwan release: Already available

Soccer fans troubled by their nation's lackluster performance in Portugal who are looking to put the record straight and win the European Championship will be as happy as pigs in muck with the latest addition to EA Sports' already extensive catalog of sports games, Euro 2004.

Using the same game engine as EA's FIFA 2004, UEFA Euro 2004 is the most realistic soccer game to hit shelves this year. Sure, Konami's recent Winning Eleven 6 International was a great fluid game with some nifty graphics, but as ever EA Sports has come up trumps thanks to its owning the official FIFA license, which allows the company to replicate genuine kits, team rosters and stadiums.

One great addition to the already hugely popular game engine is the morale meter, which tracks the performance and mood of the team's players. A good performance can lead to an increase in morale ratings, while a bad match will see a decrease in the player's form and his playing ability.

Comprising of all 51 European teams that first set to out to qualify for this year's competition two years ago, the game allows the player to take the same route as their nation or to qualify by setting up a preliminary round of their own choosing.

The computer-generated graphics look and act like the individual players they represent, country specific chants and crowd noises are both synchronized with the on field action and the commentary and chit-chat from John Motson and Ally McCoist is, as to be expected at times biting and at others amusing.

In a nutshell EA Sports' UEFA Euro 2004 has everything any European soccer fan could wish for and should conciliate the armchair soccer crowd until the release of FIFA 2005 much later this year.

Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps

Loca and international distributor: Encore

Platform: PC only

Taiwan release: Already available

Set in North Africa in 1942, Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps offers real-time wargamers the chance to take command of either the Axis or Allied forces and re-fight a selection of historical battles and hypothetical scenarios that take the player from Tobruk to El Alamein.

As a tactically focused game rather than a simple shoot'em up, players must use and deploy their units wisely. A series of tutorial scenarios, which have been passed off as missions, have been included to show players the importance and use of units such as scout groups, engineers and artillery.

While the game is played in real-time all of the scenarios can be paused at anytime to give the player a chance to evaluate events and alter orders and re-deploy units as the need arises. The game's interface is simple to use and makes selecting starting forces, choosing special units and giving orders painless.

Graphically the game is fantastic thanks to its 3D game engine that allows players to pan in and out and to change views at the press of a button. Trenches and gun-emplacements look the part and the game manufacturers have spared no expense in ensuring that the vehicles both look and sound genuine.

Just about everything can be destroyed, which means that entire villages and enemy encampments can be leveled. Careful execution of plans is required to win, however, rather than simple reliance on brute force and sheer numbers.

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