Dammit. Why am I always lumbered with Fifa? I think I’ve reviewed every single Fifa title ever made, since I started writing. So why did I accept the opportunity to review yet another Fifa game? Maybe it’s because I long for the day when EA goes back to the “good-ol-days” when their title Fifa football game was by far the best in the world — on any console. Or maybe it’s because I enjoy laughing at how poor the game is compared to their closest rival, and my personal favourite, Pro Evolution Soccer.
Ah crap, I mentioned Pro Evo! Konami’s football title seems to get a mention in every single Fifa review on the planet, or at least the newer versions. But why is that? Well, to put it simply, Pro Evo’s gameplay is simply stunning — and that’s what put it top of the football pack. The main difference between the two titles is that Fifa has the official licences, and for the moment, is the only next-gen football title.
With the World Cup just around the corner, it’s no surprise that EA have milked every opportunity to make some money from the event. A slightly rushed and messy Road to the Fifa World Cup game was released at the 360’s launch and apart from the stunning presentation; there really wasn’t much that impressed.
We were told that Fifa World Cup 2006, the only official World Cup title, is a polished and much better Fifa title, compared to the mess-up launch title that EA released. In a way, they were telling the truth. Fifa World Cup 2006 does feel a lot nicer. The gameplay feels smoother, and this game is a lot better than the Road to the World Cup. But it still isn’t that good.
The animation is one particular aspect of the game that sticks out. I’m sure it’s not just me that has noticed the animations, although fancy, are not smooth. Each touch the footballer makes feels a bit jumpy. For example, you’ll be sprinting through the middle with Rooney, and then as you smash the button to shoot, there’s a very slight jump between the running and shooting animation — which inevitably changes the game from super smooth, to a bit annoying.
That being said, it’s not actually that bad a thing. The gameplay, despite the annoying animation problems, is actually really quite fun to play. A lot more attention has been taken on the players reactions, the way they move and think, and the overall feel of the game. Passing and shooting feels a lot more fluid and you can actually put together some pretty super goals.
As always, EA have pushed the boundaries on presentation. The commentary is simply breath-taking — with every move you make being commented on. Again, though, the commentary can sometimes get repetitive, especially when you’re playing the same team throughout the World Cup tournament.
Graphically, Fifa World Cup 2006 is pretty much what you would expect from a next-gen EA title. The stadiums, players, officials — even the blades of grass — seem to have had a lot of attention placed onto them. Coupled with the fact that all of this is available on Xbox Live — with no lag problems from what I can see — it really is a solid title in terms of gameplay and presentation.
One of the main gripes of Fifa World Cup 2006 however is the price tag. It’s a full priced game, when in reality — it shouldn’t be. Because the game focuses on the World Cup, there are only international teams. Along with that, there aren’t particularly many interesting game modes — and once you’ve gone so far in the tournament, I doubt you’ll be back for more. If this game was priced lower than usual, I would say that it’s probably worth a buy — but at full price you just don’t get enough for your money and with gameplay that is solid, but not stunning, it’s not worth the effort unless you’re a die hard Fifa Fan.