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Platform

PlayStation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Sports

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

October 2005

 

 

- A lot more control options

- Can call out tactics now

- Still looks good

 

 

- The increased learning curve to figure out the controls will be a turn off to some

- Manager mode is too stripped down

 

 

Review: FIFA 06 (Xbox)

Review: Ultimate Beach Soccer (XB)

Review: World Tour Soccer 2005 (PS2)

 

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FIFA 06

Score: 7.8/10

 

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When it comes to sports franchises, and how new additions are released annually, for some itís easy to write them off as ďRoster Update XXĒ.  However, talk to any long time fan of the game in question, and theyíll quickly list a half dozen new features that this yearís game has over that of the previous year.  This holds true for FIFA 06, as the game is continuing to evolve in an effort to better compete with Konamiís Winning Eleven series.  In this latest effort from EA, we see new modes, and continued tweaking to the control scheme.  However, some of these new features feel like they donít need to be there, and in some instances take away from the accessibility that gave FIFA the advantage against its competitors at times.  Despite this, FIFA 06 still comes off as a strong offering.  It just takes longer to get the hang of it this time around.

 

Right from the onset, a lot of players will probably want to check out the new Manager Mode in FIFA 06.  While it may sound fun to take control of a soccer team from such a position, this mode is quite stripped down.  There just arenít a whole lot of options over the long run.  A lot of the time itís just a matter of saying to oneís self, ďNope, donít have enough money for that.Ē  Even with lucrative sponsorship deals.  There just isnít enough micromanaging in this mode to help give some sense of accomplishment.  Much of the time, players will find themselves marching through the matches (which can be simulated or played manually), waiting for the cash reserves to raise to a point where they can do something meaningful.  Seeing this mode just makes me wish games like Club Manager were easier to get a hold of in North America.

 

However, for those that are more interested in playing a standard soccer game, and would rather leave the paperwork to someone else, there are some interesting changes that have been made to the gameplay in FIFA 06.  Recently weíve seen EAís soccer franchise slowly provide more hands-on options for doing different moves, essentially giving players finer control of their teams.  This was obviously done in order to better compete with Konamiís Winning Eleven series, which has always given gamers far more control of their team.  The problem with FIFA 06 is that it feels like there are just too many options, making the control scheme overly complicated so that while the hardcore will certainly be able to get a lot out of the game, casuals may feel left out in the cold since they wonít be able to finesse the ball nearly as well.  It just feels like EA tried to cram way too many options into the control scheme this year.

 

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Itís this enhanced control scheme that will also likely turn off long time fans of FIFA.  Poke as many jokes as you like at the series that it was a game of run and gun soccer, where you could score every three minutes, but that doesnít erase the fact that it was a very easy game to get into.  Anyone could pick up the control, start playing, and have fun right quick.  Now, there is a much steeper learning curve for getting into the swing of things.  It also feels like the AI reflects these changes to the controls.  Players now need to pass the ball 

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around a lot because if one tries to run it in or hold onto it for too long, they can kiss it goodbye as a defender runs off with it.  Now itís all about little touch passes and fakes to quickly feed the ball down the pitch.  It takes a while to get used to this, and once players get it down cold they can start scoring like crazy, but it wouldnít be surprising if this turns into a turn off for many as it is such a drastic move away from the gameplay comfort zone many long time FIFA fans have been in for the last few years.

 

One interesting thing discovered while playing this year's edition of the game is that it is a lot harder to strip computer controlled players of the ball than in previous games.  Sliding tackles tend to earn cards a lot more now, leaving players with little choice but to dog their opponent and try and lightly manhandle the ball away.

 

Both the visuals and audio this year are not a huge leap over that of the last couple of FIFAs.  There may be some cleaned up areas here and there, but itís nothing major, and will likely go unnoticed by most.  Thankfully since it is FIFA we're talking about here, this translates into another year of pretty visuals for the game.  As far as audio is concerned, itís serviceable, but the announcers need work.  Their speech is still somewhat halted, and can come across as very robotic at times.

 

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Despite these issues, the overall experience in FIFA 06 is reasonably enjoyable.  It takes some getting used to compared to previous installments, but those with some patience can get some enjoyment out of the game.  Thereís still a lot of fun to be had with this game, it just takes time to get there.  Once players get used to a more subtle approach to gameplay, and can tap the ball around the field, theyíll feel right at home with this game.  Thereís a very nice practice mode in the game that is perfect for this.  Spend a few hours here just getting accustomed to how FIFA 06 works, and youíll be off to the races.  Some of the added controls are actually quite helpful, like the ability to call out tactical plays on the fly with the directional pad.  This works out extremely well in those moments when the defense looks like theyíre going to pose a problem and you need to make some play changes on the fly.

 

That in mind, FIFA 06 is still a recommended title.  You need to work a little more to figure out the game, but once that little epiphany happens, youíre golden.  Whether or not one has the patience to get to that point is another thing all together, though.

 

Mr. Nash

(November 30, 2005)

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