What's more difficult than preventing a bunch of pissed-up footballers from sexually abusing anything in a mini-skirt? Writing a review of a FIFA game without evangelising about Pro Evo.
It's no secret that we worship Konami's masterpiece (three times a day, to be exact), and it can be tough to measure rival football games against such a revered and untouchable benchmark.
Of course, the fact remains that FIFA sells Wembley stadium-loads more than PES, so plenty of folk must dig it. And you know what? After playing Euro 2004 we're beginning to understand why.
First of all, this is the officially licensed game of the UEFA European Championship, so it has all the official teams (except those crazy Dutchies), players, kits, stadiums, and tournament branding. It looks great and call us superficial, but we like it, especially after Pro Evo's player name and kit bastardisation.
This also has a brilliant International Coach mode where you choose any one of the 51 European teams and lead them through the whole campaign. It's an entertaining way to extend the depth of the game, and a boot in the balls for anyone who accuses EA of rushing out a shallow cash-in.
On the pitch the gameplay's been tweaked just enough to make it feel fresh from FIFA 2004. There are new skill moves and flashy bicycle kicks, diving headers, fake shots, and a new crossing model. It still plays slower and more forcedly strategic than PES, but we were particularly impressed by the intelligent runs and shouts made by our AI team-mates.
So why is it still not as good as PES? It's too slow. It's far too difficult to beat defenders one-on-one. The corner and free kick system is stupidly over-complex. And it lacks the instant reactiveness that makes PES such a joy: there are frustrating moments where you want to poke a loose ball into the net but your player fannies about for too long.
But playing Euro 2004 is a strangely seductive experience, even for hardcore PES fans like us. It's all so official, so slick, so sparkly, and so stylishly smooth while still playing some decent footie that we'll even forgive it for not being PES. Vive 2004!
If you've got FIFA 2004 it's not an essential purchase, but Euro 2004 does capture the sizzling stylishness of top-flight international football. Surprisingly good.