2006 FIFA World Cup - game review

Date: 2006-05-31 12:22:00
The review was based on the PC version.

It can be said that EA Sports has accustomed us to a series of games, the individual parts of which are almost identical to each other. A new menu appears, the soundtrack changes (and the pop-ups with the track names remain ...) and the names of the athletes, but the rest is the same. I am sorry to say that nothing has changed in this respect. However, what would not be to say about the FIFA series, how many dogs would not hang on it, they are almost always solidly made titles, with which you can have fun for some time. This is what it is like with the latest part of the series. It's time to take up the soccer profession ...

After launching FIFA, we are greeted by an extremely clichéd intro. A few actions on the pitch to the rhythm of "stadium music" is not enough to arouse more interest in the game. The smile on the face does not appear until the main menu is launched. It is made very aesthetically, and its transparency makes it easier to search for specific options. This image is completed by a really good compilation of songs from Big City Life by Mattafix first of all. The only drawback of any lists of game options and settings is that you need both a keyboard and a mouse to navigate quickly and freely. It can be annoying when, after a few minutes of using the arrows and enter, we suddenly have to reach for the rodent only for a moment.

The new FIFA offers us, of course, the fight for the football championship. We can manipulate the game options quite freely here - we decide for ourselves whether the initial groups should be the same as in reality, or it is better to draw them again. In addition, the player not only plays the role of the footballers' guardian angel in the game, who tells them what to do and how to do it, but is an ordinary team selector - he determines who is to take part in the game and according to what tactics to play. The exact same rules apply to the current World Cup Qualifier mode.

The matches themselves are a bit different from the ones we played in FIFA 06. One of the most important changes is that now crosses aren't almost a sure way to score. It's much better to play in the middle of the pitch and use passes. I have to admit that this procedure turned out to be good for the game. Matches are no longer boring, based on one pattern and the order of pressing the keys. Besides, playing on the wings is additionally hampered by the tendency of the ball to go out into the passes close to the sideline. I even have a strange impression that the creators wanted to make the game more spectacular. Throwing the action inside the pitch leads to more one-on-one situations with the goalkeeper. Nay! Now the players show that they are really trying to win by tapping the ball into the goal with a spectacular slide or "pike". The frequency of hits on the bars and the crossbar also increased. Someone will say that it was already in previous editions, but now there are a lot of such exciting actions. The solutions described above made the gameplay a bit more difficult, but also much more interesting and at times breathtaking. Anyway, this difficulty should not be worried about, because with its level you can always go down one level. When it comes to making set pieces, passes or shots on goal, absolutely nothing has changed. And good.

Scoring goals and winning games on the pitch is fun and rewarding, but only in the beginning. Later, the player gets used to his players, one formation and the chosen way of playing. He becomes tired of seeing the same animations all the time, constantly performing similar actions on the pitch. It was exactly the same in the previous part of the series, with the only difference that there you could still play club manager by developing the stadium, looking for players to buy and choosing a sponsor. In the World Cup, such elements are out of the question, making the gameplay even boring. I would even say that this is how the creators scored an own goal. The players' fatigue during the games is practically ignored, it has disappeared. New unlockable gadgets for points also do not save the game. It's good at least that the system of earning these points is now much more interesting. Now we get them for every nice (i.e. no fouls, offsides, etc.) match. It is true that it makes it easier to gain access to new jerseys, cleats and player profiles, but on the other hand it forces the player to play the game carefully.

An additional, though not too big, downside is that it is difficult to use most combinations and options when playing the keyboard. Remembering them and using them in practice seems unattainable. I would bet that it would not be easy for anyone to sprint combined with covering the rival and issuing tactical commands using the numeric keypad at the same time. Lobbying a shot while in the penalty area, where the game is going crazy fast, is almost a miracle. In practice, the control on the keyboard looks like the player uses only a few basic buttons for the most banal plays. In short, it is almost impossible to use all options.

I also have reservations about the profile system and game save, namely these two elements are independent of each other. What does this mean in practice? If we win a few matches on profile A, get several thousand points for them, save the game and run profile B, then without loading a separate save file, we will continue to play the games started on profile A. Several people are playing with the computer, the risk of unknowingly passing subsequent matches to their profile increases.

One of the really successful innovations in the game is the collection of tidbits displayed when a match is loaded. They always concern the countries of the teams that are to meet on the field. For example, the game of the Polish national team is preceded by information about our Pope, alleged UFO landings or the successes of the team in the last century. Whoever invented it deserves a lot of applause. The trivia is very interesting and, as you can see from the example, it doesn't just apply to soccer.

The game envelope, i.e. music and graphics, is probably the best-made element of the program. The great songs on the soundtrack that I already wrote about are complemented by exceptionally good-sounding shouts from the stadiums. Good takeovers and nice goals are rewarded with applause and screams of enthusiastic fans. The same is true when neither team is able to hold the ball possession longer. Moreover, after the game, you can listen to the national anthem of the victorious country. Let me add that the commentators are still Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray, who still do their job very well ... though perhaps that's because some of their lines were simply copied from FIFA 06.

The exceptionally well-made graphics - for cooperation with music - allows you to feel the atmosphere of the championship and the competition that accompanies the game of football even better. Beautiful stadiums, flags in the stands, streamers lying under the advertisements and refined models of footballers deserve applause. New animations (including showing joy after scoring a goal) have been prepared with reverence. They look very realistic, and combined with an interesting shot, the cameras give an amazing effect of motion that you have to see for yourself. As in FIFA 06, the most popular footballers have been "equipped" with more animations. It is also interesting that the pitch in the screenshots from the game generally looks as if the camera is pointing at it perpendicularly. It is actually angled, but only seeing the stadium and the players in motion eliminates the first impression.

The creators tried - very rightly, moreover - to make the game similar to broadcast on television. Now, during the match, a table is shown showing the result of a completely different match played simultaneously in time. In addition, the screen blackout when switching from one camera to another has been removed - the championship logo has been inserted in this place. These are very small improvements, but they are really eye-catching and worth a mention.

Time for a few words of summary. As I mentioned in the introduction, EA continues its policy unfavorable to hardcore players and thanks to this, the FIFA World Cup 2006 is almost a copy of its predecessor. On the other hand, it is a title made at a decent level and with attention to detail. It cannot be denied that it will not change anything in the war between the FIFA and PES series, but fans of the former should at least try 'how to eat' the latest installment. It is likely that they will like it.

Maciej "Sandro" Jałowiec