FIFA 06 (Xbox) Review
Note - Xbox Live Modes Not Reviewed
Reviewed by James 'fitbabits' Young
Edited by Nick 'bapenguin' Puleo
As sure as night follows day, it can be guaranteed that there will be a new FIFA from EA Sports come October of every year. Sports games are the bread-and-butter of Electronic Arts, and many (myself included) have criticized EA Sports for resting on their laurels by simply adding a few tweaks here and there to the gameplay of their marquee titles and updating the rosters rather than perform any major overhauls on their most successful franchises (I'm looking at you, Madden).
- those worth noting
Over 21 officially licensed leagues, with approximately 10,000 properly named players.
The 15-year Career Mode has been fleshed-out and transfers now play a larger part of the overall strategy of assembling a winning team. I wish that 'real' currency was used instead of the credits system employed here - it's just not the same seeing Thierry Henry valued at 6,500 credits as opposed to the much more satisfying $50 million he's reputed to be worth. This is a small point, but worth mentioning as it detracts from the realism that EA Sports have worked on so hard elsewhere in the game.
Play offline with up to 8-players in the all-new FIFA Lounge match up system. You can setup competitions via the Match Central then take on your friends to separate the Freddy Adu's from the Simpson's Apu! Plus, if you rank high enough, you'll unlock rewards you can use to gain the upper hand in your next match.
(Graphics & Sound)
One thing that EA Sports consistently gets right with the FIFA games is the presentation, and FIFA 06 does nothing to alter that. From the opening sequence (spoken by a Scotsman, no less) right down to the licensed music, FIFA 06 looks and sounds wonderful. The music may not be to your personal taste, but you can turn it off in the options.
Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray have replaced the commentary team of John Motson and Ally McCoist this year. Clive and Andy are almost always on the ball and call the plays as they happen. Team-specific names and player names are also thrown in to add to the flavor of authenticity. Clive has a less of an annoying manner about him than John Motson did in previous years.
The graphics in the FIFA series have always been good, but they've been improved for FIFA 06. Animation of the players is top-notch, especially in the dramatic close-ups. The models themselves have been improved and no longer look like extras from The House of Wax.
Arguably, the FIFA franchise has been the recipient of the most radical gameplay changes (both good and bad) in recent years - going from the completely broken 'deep-cross-from-the-wing-results-in-lack-of-attack-in-the-box'
of FIFA 2003 to the sublimely intuitive 'first touch' system first implemented in FIFA 2005.
Whether we like it or not, is seems the people at EA Canada are not happy to just throw out a roster update, slap a $50 price tag on it, and piss off down the pub for six months - job done.
As mentioned earlier, the much ballyhooed 'first touch' system debuted in FIFA 2005 and afforded the player greater options for controlling the ball as it sped toward him/her, thus enabling you to touch the ball on and spin round your opponent - leaving him chewing on the grass that's thrown up from your cleats as you skin him. Fans of the 'first touch' system will be happy to learn that it remains intact in FIFA 06, albeit with a few tweaks. There's now less of a guarantee of skinning your opponent than there was in FIFA 05 - players can (gasp) mis-time the approach of the ball and end up looking like amateurs.
The passing system is crisp and not always accurate (trust me, this is a GOOD thing) and the off-the-ball runs your players make are fairly intelligent. The AI has been given a timely boost in intelligence, although basic errors are still made both by your players and the opposition.
One minor disappointment is the lack of responsiveness of the controls. Players will sometimes have to finish their current animation before reacting to your button presses. Not a game killer, but still disappointing given that this has been an ever-present and unwelcome aspect of the FIFA gameplay for longer than I care to remember.
Scoring goals in FIFA 06 is harder than in previous FIFAs and its this that may alienate the hardcore FIFA fans who loved the fact that your Arsenal could beat Manchester United by 10 goals to one. It appears the developers are taking baby steps away from the arcade-oriented FIFA of the past and are gravitating toward a more simulation style of play - no doubt in response to the stiff challenge posed by Konami's Winning Eleven series.
There are a few more minor gameplay changes throughout the game, but none that really warrant their own paragraph or add/detract from the overall experience, so it's time to summarize.
If you're a fan of previous installments in the franchise, then chances are high that you'll get your money's worth out of FIFA 06. It does nothing extraordinarily good or bad but it is a small step in the right direction. Presentation is top notch - graphics and sound, especially. The career mode has been given a fresh injection of depth and the gameplay is evolving in the right direction.
For fans of the beautiful game, this is a worthy purchase.
Officially licensed leagues, teams and players
Deeper career mode
Gameplay is evolving to a more simulation-oriented experience.
Ever-present lack of responsiveness is, well, still present
Some fans of previous versions may find the more simulation-oriented gameplay of FIFA 06 a turn off
How long before Sims currency starts to be used in EA Sports games?
Worth a cookie
No mention of the tired soccer/football/soccer/football argument in the review!
4 out of 5 EvilEyes