UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 Review (PSP)
Submitted on: Apr 19, 2007 by Shawn Drotar
There's no shortage of EA sports titles in the marketplace, but when it comes to soccer, North America must be reaching over-saturation. With UEFA Champions League 2006-07, EA tosses another soccer title in to the mix - but can any EA soccer title seem completely fresh when they seem to come out every six months?
The short answer? No. UEFA's a good enough game, to be sure, but it's less world-spanning than the FIFA series and plays essentially the same game on the pitch. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it might be a bit much to ask PSP soccer fans to spend again on what's essentially the same title as one they've played rather recently.
Exhibition games are available, as are classic Champions League matches from the past, but these require the gamer to be a Champions League fan to get anything really memorable or special from the matches beyond the standard soccer fun. There's also a Champions League trivia mode, which is great if you're fan, I suppose, but otherwise useless. In this sense, UEFA's sort of an odd product for North America - for Europe, it makes perfect sense, but I'm not convinced that FIFA players are rushing to get their hands on what is essentially a differently-branded release of the same game.
The game's main mode is "The Treble", an oh-so-Euro way to say "three" - and in the mode, you'll try to accomplish three goals; winning your league, a tournament and then the Champions League itself all in one season. It's a buffed-up Season mode with a few twists, as certain players must play, certain ones must sit, and certain players will need to be moved from your squad; all in accordance with ownership's directives. It keeps things interesting, but the trade-off is that you feel less in control of your own team; something that's likely to disappoint many gamers.
From game to game, the situation changes - you may start mid-game with a deficit, for example - and success can be difficult to come by. On the whole, "The Treble" does provide an ever-changing mode of play - something that's definitely necessary given the flood of soccer titles - and as such, it's rewarding.
If you've played FIFA 07 on the PSP, you'll probably feel a sense of déjà vu. While the game sports slightly better graphics and animations, the difference is not major, and the on-field play is essentially identical. The game is still an up-and-down affair, and one mistake on defense by either team often leads to an all-too-easy goal. That's not to say it's not fun or entertaining, because it is - but it's not a simulation of the real thing. A new "quick" goal kick, corner kick and throw-in speed up gameplay a bit, but it doesn't give you any edge, as the manual suggests. Players simply appear in their proper position faster than before. Nevertheless, in a game with this pace, shorter waits for play are always welcome.
The oddly-endearing trading card mode found in the Xbox 360 edition is nowhere to be found here, and the online portion of the game is an exercise in frustration. While I found online players willing to take the field, the game would always disconnect before the kickoff. After about a dozen tries over the course of this review, it never got any further than that, and I never got to actually play a game online.
This is a tough game to score. It's a solid enough effort, but it doesn't really feel fresh at all, online play doesn't work, and its appeal seems limited to only a certain number of Champions League fans - preferably ones who don't already have FIFA 07 - and that doesn't seem likely to comprise a large number of gamers. Quite frankly, it feels like EA is trying to double-dip on the PSP, which is unfortunate, because it does a rabid fan base of soccer fans a disservice and detracts from a game that's probably solid enough to stand on its own merits had I not played something nearly identical just a few months ago.