2006 FIFA World Cup Xbox 360 Review
England probably won’t win the World Cup, but at least with the official game you can pretend they are good enough by putting the difficulty level on easy and ripping through the world ranks as if your team was made up of tireless Brazilian workhorses. Forget about England’s woes and play this instead, it beats being depressed about our national teams inevitable exit from the competition.
EA aren’t a publisher that are shy of success, and when a grand event like the World Cup comes along you just know that the giant publisher will release an official game to capitalise on the competition. 2006 FIFA World Cup has already had sales success, and it’s sure to reach its heady heights when June 2006 rolls around. The question is will you still be playing the game after the World Cup winning team hold their prize aloft?
The game may only exist because of the World Cup, but EA have been kind enough to include the 95 unfortunate teams that failed to qualify for the biggest international football stage. Then, of course, there’s the 32 countries that could potentially bring national pride to their homeland by winning the World Cup, add these numbers up and it equals a massive amount of global teams.
When it comes to actually kicking a ball World Cup is faster and more fluid than FIFA 06, and the great AI keeps the game moving along at a cracking pace, with players thankfully not wandering offside too frequently. It’s easy to see that FIFA is getting more and more like Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series everyday, although thankfully the engine itself is distinguishable enough, and in that way I’m happy to play them both. That’s not to say that World Cup is without any of its own ideas, but it’s not quite as creative as the Brazilian’s.
The shooting system has been revised this time around, in which the results of shots at goal are dictated by the length of time you hold the button, whilst the flight path of the ball is dependant on the position and attributes of the man in possession. Penalties have also been tinkered with, and they now attempt to simulate the nerves of the kickers involved (there’s even a sweet spot to hit making it near impossible for the keeper to get to it). When controlling the keeper, you can perform off-putting stuff such as waving your arms and waggling your legs, or even causing the pad of a human opponent to suddenly vibrate.
There’s a star player system, which informs you who are the best on the park by placing uh…stars above their heads. You could argue that it’s not unusual for an international squad to be full of quality players, but these stars are apparently the talented folk that can zip through defences with ease, power themselves into hard tackles, cross the ball into the box with a near surgical precision and more.
For a game that could have been merely about the World Cup, there’s certainly a lot of options. Yes you can attempt to win the biggest prize in football, but you can also qualify for the competition as well. The game also has an online mode, but lag is certainly a problem, and renders some matches barely playable as a result. Whilst the brilliant offline multiplayer Lounge mode (first seen in FIFA 06), is for some reason absent from this version, which is a real shame. A Global Challenge mode meanwhile involves you in 40 real life situations, in which you can step into historic scenarios (bizarrely using the current squads) to make a difference by completing tasks, such as scoring a certain amount of goals, not conceding any against you, avoiding getting any of your players in the referees book, and winning before extra time. It’s a mode that is so difficult at times that receiving those 500 achievement points for completing it on this 360 version is sure to feel deserved. Finally, there’s a shop bursting with purchasable items such as classic players and kits, additional balls and gimmicky extras such as slow-motion and turbo options.
A World Cup game should be as much about noise and colour as the real thing, and EA have greatly achieved this. The magnificent German stadiums look superb, balloons enthusiastically sail towards the heavens, colourful confetti makes a celebratory mess and the crowds are in harmony as they cheer on their national team with patriotic pride. Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend meanwhile deliver some great spirited commentary, that is occasionally spoiled by what I can only describe as some silly bugs, and the graphics on this 360 version are also pretty special and less jerky than what you’ll find on any other machine.
This all comes together to create a very adept virtual World Cup, but most importantly it’s a great game that deserves to stay off the dusty shelves long after the winning team wave their golden prize in the tear-streamed faces of their “oh so near, but yet so far” opponents.