2006 FIFA World Cup – PS2 – Review

will be glued to their television sets when the FIFA World Cup begins this
June. Touted as the largest sporting event in the world with a viewing
audience that surpasses the 133 million people who tuned into the Super Bowl,
the FIFA World Cup is a reason to stay inside on a nice summer day.

EA, creator
and owner of the FIFA video-games property, is attempting to give us another
reason to forego sunshine: a new game based on the world-renowned tourney.
Though it seems like we just had a new FIFA (with FIFA Street and other
variations on the market, things can get a little blurry), FIFA World Cup 2006
promises a different experience. Does it deliver?

127 teams, 40 classic moments, and 12 official stadiums, FIFA World Cup 2006
is hefty a package for $29.99, especially if you don’t own FIFA 06. If you do,
you might assume that the lower price is due to the fact this is more of an
upgrade than a true sequel.

But whoever
said upgrades were a bad thing?

One of the
biggest draws of this game is its newest mode: Global Challenge. If you’ve
been following our

of FIFA World Cup 2006, you already know what to expect. Dozens
of classic moments have been re-created in video-game form, giving players all
around the world the chance to experience the magic firsthand. Win or lose,
history will be rewritten. EA decided to spice things up by letting you take
on the Global Challenge using modern teams. I’m a hardcore gamer, not a
hardcore soccer fan, so the majority of these "classic" moments didn’t have
the emotional impact on me that it might have on someone who’s been following
the sport for decades.

I did,
however, enjoy having another challenging game mode to sink my thumbs into.
Being down by a few points might not be so bad in a game you’ve been with from
the start, but there are trials in the Global Challenge mode where you’ll
begin a loser – and have only minutes to make a comeback. Depending on how
you’ve got the game’s clock set, minutes can turn into seconds. They don’t
have to run in real-time. If they were the game would take too long, and
that’s only fun every one in a while.

On top of
the Global Challenge, Play Now, Play Online and Team Management modes, FIFA
World Cup 2006 also includes a great Penalty Shootout game. In this mode you
get the chance to score, as well as the chance to block. The perspective is
closer and as a result more intense than a typical shot. FIFA World Cup mode,
the mode everyone’s been waiting for, is an eventful road to success … or
failure. Choose from the qualifying rounds and the finals, and you can select
one of several teams spanning across the North American, European, Caribbean,
South American, Asian, Oceania and African territories.

There are
quite a few small (but noticeable) changes employed to differentiate the main
gameplay mechanics from the other FIFA games available. Most of them stick out
like a lemon sitting on top a barrel of limes. The camera angle, for instance,
has been pushed back a slight amount. Zooming in on the action doesn’t help
much. This has a positive effect on the gameplay in that I can now see more of
the stadium. More players are visible, giving us a better chance at making
successful passes in a tight situation. Soccer’s a game of quick thinking and
clever strategy. It’s knowing when to pass, when to take a chance, and when to
let the enemy ‘steal’ your ball … so you can take it back when they least
expect it. FIFA World Cup 2006 is great at making each of these elements
exciting. The wider view reflects that.

However, in
last year’s game I always had the option to pull the camera back. But
now I don’t feel like I have as much control in bringing the view closer to
the action. While Madden moves more toward realism and Fight Night gets more
cinematic, FIFA hasn’t evolved much in either respect. It starts out looking
impressive, introducing a number of cool, in-your-face angles. Then, as soon
as you get control of the action, the game switches to a standard view. I’d
love to see the series become more dynamic with the next edition, having quick
camera changes, motion blurs, and intense close-ups during gameplay. To keep
it from getting out of control, a "standard" view would be necessary for
players who want a traditional FIFA World Cup 2006 experience.

That’s what
this year’s edition provides – an experience you’ve had before, but with
slightly faster gameplay, silky-smooth controls, and more team and player
options. It’s not a must-buy, but neither was FIFA 06 if you’re not a diehard
soccer fan. If you are, and you haven’t gotten FIFA 06 yet, make FIFA World
Cup 2006 your next purchase. Otherwise, rent last year’s edition, and wait to
see what EA has in store for us with FIFA 2007. More innovation, I hope.

Scoring Details

for FIFA World Cup 2006

Gameplay: 8.0
This game’s got
the soccer experience under control. Under great controls, that is. Last
year’s formula is very much a part of this edition. The smooth, natural feel
of passing, kicking, and scoring is what keeps FIFA at the top of its game. As
you can imagine, tweaks have been made where appropriate. The penalty shootout
feature is great, and opens the door for expansion in future iterations (like
FIFA 07, which is likely less than six months away from release).

Graphics: 8.0
FIFA World Cup
2006’s most visually appealing moments are quick cuts of close details before
the game. The facial expressions aren’t overly expressive, nor are the players
as realistic-looking as those featured in Madden. The backgrounds, lighting,
shadows, texture and overall look of the game from a close view, however, is
pretty impressive. No one will be blown away from the standard gameplay view,
but it’s smooth, has a consistent frame rate, and is on roughly the same level
as the last FIFA game.

Sound: 7.0
While the
gameplay was built for everyone, the sound was designed for the European
market. Euro-pop overwhelms this edition. Not my favorite selection of songs
by any means, but there were a few that were somewhat catchy. The commentary
is appropriate for the sport, but I was more excited by my actions (and those
of my opponents) than I was by what the announcers were saying.

Difficulty: Medium
A positive
challenge for newbies and hardcore FIFA fans alike.

Concept: 7.6
gameplay and different game modes don’t equal full innovation. FIFA World Cup
2006 stays afloat by offering a quality gaming experience, albeit one that
isn’t overly different from the last.

Multiplayer: 7.9
FIFA World Cup
2006 is a good multiplayer game, but it’d be even better if we hadn’t had FIFA
06 last fall. I love frequent sequels more than anyone, but this is more of a
reiteration for the World Cup, not a step ahead. If you’ve haven’t kicked the
balls out of FIFA 06, the World Cup edition will be the only multiplayer game
you’ll want to play. But for me, someone who has had perhaps a little too much
FIFA as of late, it’s just a 7.9.

Overall: 8.0
For the price
($30) and the contents, FIFA World Cup 2006 can’t be beat. Know what you’re
getting before going in – otherwise you might be disappointed. This is a good
game with a lot of challenges and more of FIFA’s acclaimed gameplay. However,
innovation and graphical achievements were not included in this “upgrade.”