2006 FIFA World Cup – PSP – Review

With the World
Cup right around the corner, it was no surprise that EA Sports would release a
World Cup soccer title. After all, it has done so before with other World Cups,
like my personal favorite – World Cup 98 for the original PlayStation. I’m sure
I wasn’t the only soccer fanatic that wished that one day we could take our
soccer game on the go and I’m happy to say that that day has finally come for us
fans. 2006 FIFA World Cup for the PSP is, more or less, the World Cup game we
always wanted and it also turns out to be great sports game you will want to
take with you.


Every four
years, 32 teams from across the globe are locked in a tournament to end all
tournaments and this year’s FIFA World Cup finds itself in Germany. The 2006
World Cup is also an interesting one with France’s Zidane retiring his jersey
after the games, Mexico’s surprising lineup change and Angola qualifying for the
first time. There are good match ups this year as well as some interesting
possibilities like a USA versus Iran match or a Brazil versus France rematch.
The beautiful thing about 2006 FIFA World Cup is that in this game if those
matches never happen in real life they can happen in the game. Apart from the
qualifying teams, however, you can take control of a number of other countries
that didn’t qualify so you don’t have to play using the current World Cup lineup
of qualifying teams.

The game tosses
in a Play Now feature that allows you to take any of the qualifying teams and
pitting them against a team of your choosing and the best part is that the game
adds a number of options to make the match interesting. You can choose to play a
friendly game or a Group Stage game or even a Final 16 game complete with the
option to play sudden death and golden goal. The game’s other main playing mode
is 2006 FIFA World Cup and Global Challenge. As you can see, the game modes are
quite limited but that doesn’t mean the modes here aren’t deep. The real meat of
the game is in the 2006 FIFA World Cup mode that follows your favorite team
through the entire tournament from the qualifying rounds to the finals for the
glory of going for the prize.

Global Challenge
is a nice addition and a mode that allows gamers to take a time machine back to
a nail-biting World Cup moment that allows you to re-enact the last half of a
classic game or change the course of history by defeating a team that won that
particular match. The mode actually sets up various scenarios and they’re quite
good but don’t expect some real classics so if you were dreaming of going back
in time to control Argentina’s Diego Maradona you are out of luck. Still, Global
Challenge offers a number of challenging objectives to complete that will help
your gameplay style considerably.


Control-wise, it
is hard not to notice that the gameplay borrows elements from Konami’s own
soccer series, Winning Eleven. The realistic gameplay style of the Winning
Eleven games is evident in the controls, particularly in the analog control and
your team or rival’s ball-handling skills. It doesn’t, however, sacrifice the
loose FIFA Soccer feel that gives the game its fast-paced feel and momentum. The
analog control makes movement feel more natural this time around, leaving the
D-Pad to issue attacking strategies (wing play or counter attack commands) or
defense strategies (zone defense or setting up an offside trap). Despite a few
small framerate stutters, the game moves at a good pace.

The game also
includes a multiplayer mode using the Ad Hoc as well as online Infrastructure
connection. Online the game allows you to set up matches anyway you like or
accept the challenges of those in the lobby. While the framerate does tend to
slow things down at times, it doesn’t get severely bad enough that you’ll be
frustrated with it. Just about the only real frustrating part is that you do
have to pay a fee to play ($2 at setup or free if you accept EA Sports’ sponsors
to email you with product offers) and will certainly encounter your share of
gamers who pull out of the game at the first sign that they’re losing.

Visually, 2006
FIFA World Cup is not as beautiful as the console version but it is a
good-looking game with a slick interface and a great televised presentation. The
player models are actually handled better than past attempts on the PSP with
star players like Brazil’s Ronaldiho or England’s Owen looking a lot like the
real thing. Replays of goals are what stand out since we get a good angle of the
goal and the great thing is that there are a wide variety of player animations
to make each goal and goal celebration stand out. The stadiums look amazing,
particularly the one in Hamburg that look a lot like the real stadium, and the
fans look more natural this time around. Overall, the game’s visuals are not bad
at all.


Then, of course,
comes the game’s sound that is just as good as the game’s visuals. The stadium
sounds alive with noise, whether it’s cheering, the Brazilian side singing or
the African drums from the Egyptian fans the game sounds like the World Cup. The
familiar two-man commentary team of Clive and Andy is now better than ever with
commentary that’s less repetitive and more insightful. Better yet their
reactions to goals and particularly spectacular plays are more emotional … these
are the World Cup games, after all, not your average friendly match up. 

2006 FIFA World
Cup for the PSP might not be as great as the console version but it is one of
the best portable World Cup games you will not want to miss. It’s an addictively
enjoyable soccer game that has a lot to offer fans of the sport and with a
perfect online multiplayer mode how can you go wrong with this one? Even with
the limited game modes this is a real Must-Have.

Review Scoring Details for 2006 FIFA World Cup

Gameplay: 8.5
Taking a page
from the Winning Eleven games, 2006 FIFA World Cup feels slightly like a
realistic soccer simulator without losing its arcade game style, giving gamers
the best of both worlds. The game modes do a brilliant job of bringing the World
Cup finals to life and there are an assortment of options to fit your playing

Graphics: 8.0

Visually, the
game hasn’t changed much from past PSP versions but the overall presentation is
slick and certainly very pleasing to the eye. The star players looks like the
real thing this time around and there are more player animations that make each
goal unique. Even the stadiums and the fans look good.

Sound: 8.0
At last we get
real emotions from the color and play-by-play commentators that do a great job
of calling plays and making insightful comments about a particular play. The
collection of world tunes is not as good as previous EA Trax in the FIFA
franchise but it does the trick. Best of all the stadium sounds alive with fans
that sing, chant and cheer.

Like the real
teams, each team has its strengths and weaknesses and this game accurately
portrays this fact beautifully. You’ll find yourself working hard to keep Brazil
from breaking your defenses while exploiting Mexico’s reliance on its strongest
player. Even in the game’s Amateur setting you will find a good challenge.

Concept: 8.2

All the World
Cup qualifying teams are present and are grouped accordingly to capture this
year’s World Cup accurately. Global Challenge is a really nice treat as is the
tournament itself but the fun part comes with all the options available. There
are plenty of rewards worth unlocking and multiplayer is a dream come true.

Whether you’re
playing with a friend nearby using the Ad Hoc connection or online using
Infrastructure, the multiplayer doesn’t run smoothly but it’s still really fun.
You’ll have a great time taking your favorite team and pitting them against
other teams online – now that’s what I call a tournament. Now if only online
players stuck around even if they’re losing this would be a great online

Overall: 8.5
One of the
most enjoyable soccer games you will play on your PSP, 2006 FIFA World Cup is
the perfect traveling companion for any sports fan. While the game concentrates
on this year’s World Cup and its qualifying teams, you’ll still have a great
time playing through this tournament. If you love a good portable sports game
and/or are a soccer aficionado, this is the game you will want to buy.