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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Canada

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

October 4, 2005

 

 

- Magnificent Manager mode
- 720 high res looks great

 

 

- CPU AI can get a bit annoying
- Minor control quirks

 

 

Review: Sega Soccer Slam (GC)

Review: Ultimate Beach Soccer (XB)

Review: World Tour Soccer 2005 (PS2)

 

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FIFA Soccer 06

Score: 8.1 / 10

 

fifa soccer 06 review          fifa soccer 06 review

 

For quite awhile, EA's FIFA series has been trailing a bit behind Konami's Winning Eleven (also known as Pro Evolution in North America ) series. While EA once again has the exclusive rights to teams, players and all of that, they've surprisingly done a fine job in keeping up with the competition, especially since Konami's next instalment won't be hitting until 2006.

For the most part, the gameplay is fairly solid. The new Pace Control button slows down your player but gives them a bit more control over the ball. There are a few quirks that you need to accept - namely, if you accidentally hit a Pass button twice, you'll automatically do a one-two pass, which can lead to problems if you're not careful. Additionally, you can hold down the "R" button all you want to sprint with the ball, but it still feels like all of the defending characters will catch up with you

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regardless.

Offensive and defensive tactics can be issued with the d-pad, and while they seem obscurely labeled with acronyms like CA and WP, the tutorial helps explain exactly the difference between Counter Attack and Wing Play. Each player also has preferred playing styles, so some are better while striking while others work better in the midfield. Even on

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the lowest difficulty setting, the CPU defense puts up quite a fight, and it only gets harder as you progress up through the ranks. Naturally, this can grow a bit frustrating to all but the most dedicated of veterans.

While the graphics are smooth in standard definition, FIFA 06 also supports 720p high definition, and it looks fantastic. However, the action isn't quite as silky, and the framerate chugs during any close-ups. Still, it should hold up favorably for anybody who can't upgrade to an Xbox 360 just yet. The field looks excellent, especially with the lighting effects, although the player models are just a bit above average. Andrew Gray and Clive Tydsley come aboard as the new English language announcers, though it does occasionally suffer from the usual repetitive commentary from many sports games. Still, they sound great, and I could swear there was a Lord of the Rings reference in there somewhere. ("They shall not pass!")

Beyond the actual gameplaying, there's a whole slew of additional options EA has tossed in this year. First and foremost is the Fan Shop, which allows you to purchase classic teams, new stadiums, victory animations, and plenty of other interesting features. These can only be unlocked by getting points from beating a wide variety of Challenges. Unfortunately, some of them can be quite difficult to beat, and it would've been nice to earn some currency through some other venue. As with some of the other 2006 EA sports games, there's a Retro mode which lets you see how the FIFA series has evolved since the 16-bit days. Also included are a few highlight reels, and voice clips of commentators from famous plays. Add this up with some nice tournament options with Xbox Live, and you've got a nicely featured package.

 

fifa soccer 06 review          fifa soccer 06 review


The superb Manager mode is one of the best parts of the games, and proves to be incredibly addictive. After choosing your region and the team you want to manage for, you're given full control to hire new trainers, draft new players, and control the lineups. You're also given complete control over the budget, allowing you to pick sponsors or raise ticket prices. It's a little bit odd that the current is measured in abstract "credits" as opposed to any actual currency, but I suppose that's the only way to express it, given that you're managing teams from all around the globe. There are also several instances where you'll need to deal with the public relations office or deal with complaints from both fans and players. In fact, manipulating the public image of your club is one of the most enjoyable parts of the game, even though it pretty much just boils down to answering multiple choice questions every once in awhile.

Alas, it can be a little hard balancing your fan support, job security and team morale. Keeping your players happy can also be a bit difficult, as you usually need to rotate substitutes in order to keep them from grumbling, which affects the overall morale. Since each one has to be moved manually, and most of the screens have no indication of individual morale, you begin to wish there was just some button that automatically stuck benchwarmers out into the starting lineup. There are also other minor interface annoyances - you can only simulate one game a team, which makes managing a season a little bit slow going. Still, the music selection that plays in the menu and during Manager mode is excellent, with a wide variety of tunes and customizable playlists.

In the end, avid soccer gamers may still prefer the tighter gameplay of Winning Eleven, but armchair managers will undoubtedly love the marvellous simulation mode, and unlockable extras add up to a fine game that fans will enjoy regardless of where their allegiance lies.

- Kurt Kalata
(November 22, 2005)

 

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