I’m probably not the first person you should ask when you need someone’s opinion of a soccer video game. That being said, I know what I DON’T like. I don’t like when I await next-generation soccer only to find that I could have gotten a lot more game for less money by sticking with the current generation of systems.For not liking soccer at all, I sure do seem to review an awful lot of soccer titles. I think the sport is slow, scoring comes too infrequently, and there is no blood loss. Yes, I have the typical yank opinion that “football” uses an oval-shaped pigskin, shoulder pads, and helmets. I’ll try and approach this review from a perspective of how I enjoyed this game, not how I enjoy the sport of soccer.
The most obvious change in this version of the game is the graphics. The game looks nice. The downside to looking nice is that the players are just off enough to look really, really weird. It looks like a carnival of freaks got free and decided that soccer is the best way to spend their freakish days.
The in-game players look great. The fans don’t look nearly as good. The animations are decent enough. You have your spinning dekes, your smooth running, and your actual crunchy tackles. Everything looks pretty realistic, sweat drips, and the hair and clothing moves - which is actually pretty slick. I’m getting pretty used to this level of realism in my games. The frame rate stays mostly solid, except during the replays. During the instant replays not only does the frame rate drop very low, but weird artifacts start to pop up. The ball disappears, and everything generally makes you hurry and skip any replays because they look really bad.
In keeping up with a new trend that I do enjoy, load screens are now a place where you can kind of scrimmage or practice. It’s cool in that it gives you something to do rather than stare at the stupid loading screen.
The sound effects are decent. The two announcers Martin Tyler and Andy Gray do a decent enough job with the commentary. I have to admit that the heavy accents are a little off-putting and I found myself ignoring most of their trivia, play-by-play and commentary.
The game play is where I have the most issues. The controls are responsive, but a little confusing. I think this is truly more due to my lack of familiarity with the sport itself. You can do all the crazy things that you’d expect in a soccer game. I will say though that the controls seem a little touchy with passing. I had a tendency to over-pass the ball, and I had a little bit of trouble putting the ball where I wanted to pass it.
Don’t even get me started on the kicking controls. I couldn’t hit the net at all. Every shot went over the net or wide left or right. In most soccer games, scoring is rare, but in this game - prepare to get one goal every three or four games. This game is just plain hard. Maybe I don’t get the concepts of soccer, but I use passes heavily, and I try and cross the ball to take a header or kick into the net, but it seems that either I stink, the AI is too good, or a combination of both.
This next-gen launch title has a scarce few modes of play. As what’s unfortunately becoming “typical EA” the next-gen titles have far less content than their current generation of games. You have online play, practice, tournament, and (as the title says) road to world cup. No dynasty mode, no GM, no season modes, just the basics. The game has almost 75 teams (much less than the 500 that the current-gen consoles have).
I played this game multiplayer with a few friends, who surprisingly, are soccer fans. They new player names, and made comments that so-and-so looks just like so-and-so. They then proceeded to be very under whelmed with the overall game play experience. I didn’t like the game, so I’m glad that I had a few others there who like soccer to verify that I’m not alone in my thinking.
One pretty cool thing that helps the multiplayer modes is that you can have up to 4 guys playing online. This is one of the few shining spots in an otherwise barren wasteland that is FIFA online play. The online mode is just like the rest of the game - pretty minimal.
All in all FIFA 06 is much more flash than substance. While the graphics are noticeably better than the current generation, the game just isn’t fun. I just didn’t enjoy playing it. It was a fairly hard game to review. I was glad to have some friends who enjoyed soccer help me out, and the fact that they didn’t dig the game too much either made me feel more confident in my decree. I’m tired of paying for rushed, minimal next-generation games. Save some money, and get a more complete game by sticking with the current generation.
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