GC REVIEW: 2006 FIFA WORLD CUP

This is the World Cup the way it should be. by Colin Thames

May 5, 2006 - 2006 FIFA World Cup will rival any video soccer game on the market. It's been inspired by Winning Eleven, which until now, was the game to beat. By incorporating some of the best of Winning Eleven's features, along with some classic EA elements, 2006 FIFA World Cup is a hybrid soccer game that definitely raises the bar for EA.

Loaded with features and packed with action, 2006 FIFA World Cup, has just the right blend and balance of controls, moves and challenges. It's accessible to all gamers, and the online modes let you play with or against players of equal skill levels. The hardcores will want to play through the tournament mode to unlock the hardest difficulty level where the AI is programmed to kick your ass. Regardless of what difficulty level you play at the AI plays a very realistic game. What may seem to be unfair at first, can be attributed to your lack of skill. I wasn't prepared for the ass-whooping that I got on the Perfect difficulty level but after a couple of days I was able to compete without embarrassing myself.

Unlike World Cup games of the past, 2006 FIFA World Cup, features all of the teams - yes all of them. Even the ones that didn't make the finals. Virtually every country is represented here. If Antarctica has a soccer team, you'll find them here. In all, there is a total of 127 teams. You can skip ahead and choose a team that has already made the finals, or you can try your hand at an underground team in hopes of bringing them all the way to the cup. To keep things in as realistic perspective as possible, the teams that are already in the finals will have a better chance of getting to the cup than teams that didn't. This is due to the fact that these teams typically have better players.

Players that have better overall stats will perform the various moves such as passing and kicking with more finesse. FIFA World Cup takes this a step further with the star player feature that targets renowned players such as Beckham, Owen and Crespo and allows them put their unique skills to use on the field. Whether it's passing, shooting, dribbling or all-out speed, when the ball is in the hands of any of these players, (which will be indicated by a star over their head) they will display almost superhuman skills in the areas of their specific talents. Quite often the game will revolve around these star players.

FIFA World Cup, now incorporates the smoother and more intuitive analog control system. There are less moves in this game than Winning Eleven but I find that refreshing. It makes things a lot more straightforward as I don't have as many things to remember. I didn't use most of the moves in Winning Eleven and unless you're playing it for months on end you probably won't need all of them anyway. The game controls great the way it is. Just use what you've got. There is passing, shooting, dribbling, chip shots, short crosses, one-two passes and the ability to change your strategy in real-time with the D-pad. You can also call over teammates to help defend you or get into a better position for a pass.

A lot of the control is context-sensitive. The CPU takes into account the players' stats as well as his position on the field and if he's moving or standing. There is no power meter per se, so if you want a more powerful kick make sure the player that has the ball has the appropriate stats for that move, and also make sure that the player is running and has the required momentum for a more powerful shot.

During a penalty shot the goalie has the ability to psyche-out the shooter by moving around and taunting him. To make the shot, the shooter has to line up the ball in the shot meter. The longer he takes to line-up his shot the more he will become adversely affected by the crowd and the goalie. The shot meter will begin to shake as the shooter becomes unnerved making it more difficult to line up properly. By the same token, the shooter can also unnerve the goalie by dancing around and taking faking shots.

The animations are very smooth and realistic. The goal animations are incredibly varied. I don't think I've seen the same one twice. Sometimes the ball bounces off the post and other times it deflects off the goalkeeper. The players' and crowd's reaction to goals seem spontaneous. You can see the look of glory on the players' face and the audience responds with cheers, throwing confetti and waving flag and banners. The stadiums look virtually identical to their real-life counterparts. They come complete with their own national anthems. There are more than 100 different anthems. Even the commentary is impressive, not only for the drama and excitement that Clive and Andy provide but the fact that they seldom repeat their comments. I don't know how much dialog these guys recorded but there seems to be many hours' worth.

Online play accommodates up to eight players and while getting into a game is made easy thanks to the famous FIFA lounge, there is some delay with the controls. The lack of an online tournament mode did not go unnoticed and it's something that needs to be addressed in next year's version - and considering how good this game is, you can be rest assured the series will continue.

Features:

  • PLAY WITH YOUR HEROES: The world's superstars look and play like their real life counterparts. Player attributes like ball skills and playing style have been uniquely re-created for each player to mirror real life.
  • WIN THE 2006 FIFA WORLD CUP: Compete as one of 125 teams from qualification right through to a virtual reproduction of the FIFA World Cup Final in Germany. Play in any of the 12 official stadiums that come to life with the pageantry and festivity of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
  • GLOBAL CHALLENGE: Introducing a new mode called Global Challenge that recreates 40 classic moments in FIFA World Cup history. Earn rewards to unlock legendary players and classic apparel.
  • PENALTY SHOOTOUT: Experience the elation and agony of a penalty shoot-out as if you were on the pitch. Use new moves to distract the goalkeeper or put off the penalty taker. Master your nerves to score the goal that puts your team in the FIFA World Cup.
  • ADVANCED SHOOTING MECHANICS: New context sensitive shooting provides even more realistic action. Player shooting ability, pressure from defenders and distance from goal all contribute to the success of the shot, just like in real life.
  • MULTIPLAYER MODE: Play as your favorite national teams in up to eight-way multiplayer sessions with friends from qualifiers to the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final.
  • FIFAWORLDCUP.COM ZONE: Visit the cities and stadiums of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany via in-game videos.

By Colin Thames
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
2006 FIFA World Cup (GC)
4.0
Graphics
The licensed players look great and all of the animations are smooth and seldom repeat.
4.4
Control
The controls are simplified but still allow you to play a good, challenging game. There is some lag online.
4.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The crowd will get your heart pumping. There are national anthems for more than 100 countries. The commentary is detailed and seldom repeats.
4.0
Play Value
There's no online tournament mode but there's enough modes here to keep you entertained until next season.
4.0
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
System: X360 (shown), PS2, X, PC, GC, PSP, DS
Dev: EA Canada
Pub: EA
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1 - 8
Review by Colin

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best