Fifa 06 Xbox Review

It’s been almost a year since the last Fifa came out. So as usual here we are with the next yearly installment. But Fifa 06 is a bit different to previous Fifa titles because it includes a new game engine which EA hopes will help Fifa become the best footy title of the year over the mighty Pro Evolution Soccer.

Gameplay

But even with the new game engine Fifa 06 still feels pretty much the same. However you’ll notice some changes straight away, like how much the speed of the game has changed. It’s not that much faster than previous editions but it just feels a little more fluent and less bogged down like before. Although the players can still feel a bit sluggish at times and they are still very unresponsive to your button presses. The ball still feels like it’s stuck to the players’ feet, and the ball physics remain unrealistic because the ball doesn’t really move like a real ball should.

The game has now become much harder, to try to make matches more realistic, since previous Fifas normally had rugby scores at the end of a game. EA now want you to play a passing game to get your way to the goal, so it’s now very hard to just blast it in from 30+ yards out, which was a very popular scoring method in previous Fifas. But most of the goals you will be scoring will be almost identical to the last. There’s no variation in the goals scored like on Pro Evo, where almost every goal is different. This can make matches quite boring since basically the same thing will be happening in every game. But that’s only if you actually do score. The goalies have now become unstoppable especially since it’s nigh on impossible to actually aim where you want to shoot.

The free kicks have been changed so they are more like Pro Evo’s. But instead of improving they have become worse in some ways. There is no longer a target that shows you where you are aiming and you can no longer choose how you want to spin the ball, which is kind of an improvement because you won’t be scoring every single free kick which you have like on previous Fifas. But you now have no sense of direction or height so the ball will normally end up going wide, into the goalie’s hands or if you’re lucky it will hit the crossbar. You also don’t have the choice to cross or shoot, the game decides for you which is very frustrating. For instance, one time the clock was at 90:00 and the game was drawn at 0-0. I managed to get a free kick in a perfect scoring position for a possible first goal from a free kick for me. But instead of letting me shoot it made me have to lob the ball into the box which resulted in a defender heading it away, which then lead to the game going into extra time and penalties and me getting knocked out of the FA Cup.

But enough about the gameplays’ bad points, let me talk about some of the good stuff. The use of real time tactics has been implemented into the matches. Pressing anyone of the buttons on the d-pad enables you to make your team do different things in defense and attack. On the defensive side of things you can choose to perform the offside trap or go on the zone defense e.t.c. While on the attacking side you can counter attack or choose to play it along the wings.

The right analogue stick also becomes very useful as it is the trick stick. The trick stick was used in other EA Sports titles like Madden NFL 06 and NBA Live 06, and Fifa 06 is no exception. It does exactly what it says on the tin; enables you to perform different tricks, such as step overs and the Zidane spin. But it becomes the most effective when you use pace control. This lets you slow down your player and enables him to shrug off defenders and keep hold of possession while he waits for support to come and help, so he can then slip through that inch perfect pass to a striker like Henry who will bang the ball into the net (hopefully).

The new manager mode has also been included in this years’ game. You make your own manager and take control of various different clubs through a 15 year career. This is a very deep and in depth mode. If you like it you will be playing it for hours on end. You can upgrade you staff to get the best out of your players. And you can also send out scouts to find one of the top young prospects from anywhere in the world. You will also have to look after your players and finances. As well as buy new players and set ticket prices. This is the biggest game mode ever featured in a Fifa game and can be quite enjoyable. I’m sure most of you will spend plenty of hours playing this.

Graphics

The graphics have improved this year with the addition of new player faces being added to the game. Nearly all of the kits are licensed and look very good. Although when the camera goes up close you can see that not that much detail has been put into them. For instance; the Premier League badge on the right and left arms is just a white mush. Looks like someone got a white paint brush and smudged it into the shirts. All the official players faces look really good and detailed, and you can instantly tell who each one is. Their facial expressions are also shown really well. You can actually see the anger in the players’ faces when they are arguing with each other or the referee. However the unlicensed players don’t look so good and nearly all of the players in the lower divisions look the same. But unlike previous additions, the transfers aren’t up to date and some of the stats are very wrong. This is a very bad thing in a Fifa game since all of the licensed teams and up to date transfers are the main selling point of the game. Players like Michael Owen, Sergio Ramos and Nolberto Solano are still at there old clubs. And Teddy Sheringham is 21 years old according to Fifa. This must be one of the most inaccurate stats ever. Not that the actual playing stats of the players really matter since someone in league 2 could tackle Ronaldinho just as well as John Terry. That’s how equal most of the players are, even if the stats say one is miles better than the other.

Sound

Clive Tydsley and Andy Gray return to this years’ Fifa after featuring in the UEFA Champions League game earlier in the year. They bring a nice breath of fresh air to the series since it’s a change from the old duo of John Motson and Ally McCoist. The matches themselves also sound really good. There is a whole list of crowd chants that are really loud and exhilarating, and the sound of the ball being kicked is really good as well. They have a nice blend of sentences and phrases and they don’t really get boring. They also make the game feel more realistic since it features the Sky Sports commentary team. The music is also very good with a whole range of international bands like Oasis and Jamroquai. There are also little sound clips of players scoring famous goals that appear in between songs, which is a nice feature.

Lifespan

The manager mode is very deep and you could spend hours playing it. You can also take part in different tournaments like the Premiership, Serie A, and La Liga, which should keep you busy for a while. There are also different tasks to do which get you points. These points are used to unlock all star teams and various different video clips and 3rd kits for numerous teams. There is also the multiplayer aspect of the game which should also keep you busy for a while.

Overall

This is one of the best Fifas of the last couple of years but is still let down by some gameplay issues. The graphics haven’t really been changed that much, and the sound is once again excellent. If you’re a Fifa nut you will probably already own this game, if not I would recommend Pro Evolution Soccer 5 instead since it’s a much more realistic and fun football experience.

8 out of 10
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