2006 FIFA World Cup Review

2006 FIFA World Cup is designed to give gamers a chance to experience the German-hosted soccer experience for themselves. It features a nice presentation that gives the game a very international feel and a festive atmosphere, but the gameplay itself is not quite world class.

2006 FIFA World Cup features a number of modes of play, but its centerpiece is the World Cup mode. You can choose to play as any of the 32 teams to make the finals and lead them through the same group play schedule as in the tournament itself, create a new random group of 32, or start at the beginning as one of the 120+ teams that tried to make it to the Cup in the regional qualifiers. This mode really brings out the international feel of the Cup, with a world music soundtrack and load screens that feature a montage of images from and a collection of facts about one of the countries taking place in the match that’s loading. When the game loads you’re taken on a high speed trip from a view of the Earth from orbit into the German stadium hosting the match which is a pretty cool effect. The camera will then pan the stadium to show the raucous crowd waving flags in a sea of confetti and streamers. Let the party begin!

Once on the pitch the party atmosphere fades and you’re left with just the soccer. The game missed an opportunity to keep the level of energy going through the in-game commentary. The announcers do not seem particularly excited by the on-field action and making matters worse the play-calling and commentary are pretty limited, so expect to hear plenty of repetition. To keep things interesting the commentary sometimes does not match the action on the field or makes you think that the announcers are watching the game on a slight tape delay.

The default view uses a sideline camera angle that shows about a sixth of the pitch at a time. An onscreen “radar” has a miniature view of the entire field with colored dots representing the players that helps you keep track of everyone. The graphics are certainly serviceable, but they don’t have that next-gen punch that can make your jaw drop like in other sports games.

The controls are pretty straightforward for an EA game, without much in the way of extra moves or control that has become the de facto standard in their other sports games. There are also times when the control seems to be ever so slightly slow in responding which I noticed most often when shooting or trying to switch defensive players. The d-pad allows you to choose between four offensive and four defensive strategies, but in practice it is difficult to select a new strategy during the gameplay and you’re best off waiting for the next stoppage in play.