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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Sports

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2005

 

 

- Good online play

- Your only soccer fix on the 360

- Good view of the on-field action, with some excellent commentary to boot

 

 

- Many standard features are missing

- A measly 72 teams

- Zombie player close-ups jar against the default view of the field

 

 

Review: FIFA Soccer 06 (PS2)

Review: Super Mario Strikers (GC)

Review: World Tour Soccer 2005 (PS2)

 

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FIFA Soccer 06

Score: 5.6 / 10

 

Whenever I plunk in a FIFA game (or any soccer game for that matter) I always expect to hear a very enthusiastic "G-o-o-o-o-oal!" whenever put the ball into the back of the net.  On a more metaphoric level, FIFA Soccer 06: Road to FIFA World Cup -- FIFA 06 for short -- the ball doesn't so much hit the back of the net as "bong!" off the crossbar or at a minimum hits the goalie in the face.  It's another misstep by EA's roster of released-too-soon sports titles.

 

fifa soccer 06          fifa soccer 06

 

Maybe the most glaring misstep of FIFA 06 is the inclusion of a paltry 72 teams.  The version of FIFA 06 that graced the Xbox features 500.  While non-soccer fans aren't likely to notice (or buy this title in the first place) soccer aficionados will likely fall into an apoplectic fit.  This would be like a Madden game shipping with teams only from the NFC North and South.  That should be enough for most died in the wool soccer fans to turn their noses up at FIFA 06.

 

That said, there's still a few high points that FIFA 06 has to offer, such as more unrealistic passing.  Many sports titles have put themselves in the category of "simulation."  This basically means that unless you're willing to really suffer through a learning curve you won't have any fun.  In this case I welcome the return of a 

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passing game that doesn't actually require me to practice, practice, practice.  You still can't make blind passes (the widescreen presentation really helps see more of the field anyway) or "magic" passes through crowds but the ball remains under tighter control.  The same can be said when you're dribbling -- the ball stays under tight control.  The standard soccer moves are still present and accounted for and to FIFA 06's credit I never felt "out of control."

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The graphics are like different sides of the same coin.  Some aspects are super buffed and look great, while the flip aspects are all scratched up.  The default field views of the action are super to watch and people just coming into the room will think you're watching a game.  But then a close-up of a play rolls and they'll start laughing.  Close up players have a dead look to them and the animation is often choppy.  Plus there's a strange glowing halo around the players during close-ups.  If you're playing a "regular" TV FIFA 06's presentation isn't great.  Like NBA Live 06, the text is nearly impossible to read and it feels like three inches on either side of the screen are there you just can't see them. However, while playing on a "proper" hi-def 16:9 TV it looks much, much better -- heck, you can even see the text -- but the crowds still look awful.

 

fifa soccer 06          fifa soccer 06

 

The commentary supplied by Andy Gray and Martin Tyler is very good, but you'll still face the problem of reoccurring anecdotes which is a problem that all sports games have faced to some extent since the advent of audio commentary.  The crowd noise is also very good provided, as always, if you have a good stereo setup.

 

Playing with a friend or faceless nobody over Xbox Live, is a snap, even if I personally am not crazy about EA's lobby setup.  Although the actual multiplayer options are very limited, play is smooth and actually quite a bit more fun than playing the computer (which is probably the only reason FIFA 06 scores as high as it did).

 

I sound a bit like a broken record on this, but next year EA's sports games will be hitting their full stride, which I'm looking forward to already.  If you're a soccer nut FIFA 06 is your only fix for the Xbox 360, but it'll probably disappoint you with a complete lack of "standard" features.

 

- Omni

(January 17, 2006)

 

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