Review by Kaiden
An overall good football game, with some lacking features
Some of you will have bought this game before the 2006 World Cup and others will have bought it after the competition, in order to try and see if they could recreate the feeling of the matches, the cheering of the crowd, the emotion of a goal, all things indispensable for football. 2006 F. W. C. happens to do them ok, although not greatly, but let's start with saying that if you're looking for a game that will let you feel the World Cup you'll partly hit your target.
The graphic department, speaking of footballers, has got different layers: your player will look more detailed as the camera gets near him, but if it zooms out, it'll become as pixelated and poorly detailed as a 1997 game (not that far, perhaps, but pretty close): actually this is clearly made to save memory and to prevent the slowdowns but as we'll see it's not enough. Moreover, this stratagem shouldn't actually allow you to see this difference but the cases where you can really see your player looking like a wooden block are several. But, to conclude, when you can see a player in fully detail, it's truly greatly designed.
For the first time (that I can remember of) in FIFA games, the crowd is -almost- 3D: what I mean is that, normally (e. g.: when you're playing) the crowd is just your usual cardboard little chap, but sometimes, for example when the players are preparing for a corner kick or such, you can randomly see some sections of the crowd in full 3D (made up just for the occasion, of course) cheering or blaming or what else. Obviously, a fully 3D crowd wouldn't even let you play the game on a PS2 with all the slowdowns (given it actually starts) so we have to logically say this is a welcome addiction.
Now for the menus: some are well-made while others you may find confusing without knowing them: the main menu where you choose between, for example, World Cup, Options, Play Now, ect, is good, clean and navigable. The parts that let you change players, make substitutions, change the formation and such are also well made but the menu that allows you to change stadiums, match times, balls and such may be confusing (you've to navigate it with L2 and R2 for what concerns the topic and with the arrows for what concerns the subtopic).
The last graphic subtopic we have to discuss is always regarding the players, but in a different point of view: the faces. I think everyone could guess my incoming judgement: some faces look really great and absolutely close to reality while others are completely different from real players. Now, I can only speak of Italian players as I mainly play with them but I think it's the very same for other countries too.
EA Sports like to make every single FIFA game different from the previous or the next one when speaking of gameplay. Promptly, with the great experience from the previous one, you arrive near the penalty area and you try to shoot, only to discover that the mechanism is utterly different. It's been a while now since they changed the "automatic aim" system: in early FIFA games (up to 2000 or 2001 I believe) the player, whatever the direction he was aiming at, would shoot directly in direction of the goalie, much facilitating the scoring process. As you may have noticed, this is no more, as you have to perfectly (or at least, accurately) aim with the left analogic stick in order to correctly shoot. This can be tricky at first but you'll soon get used to it.
Another change was made in passes: in FIFA 2005, for example, first intention passes were the most important thing but in this game they've lost this importance: you've to carefully think passes before actually doing them or you could find the ball in opponents' hands (feet, more likely) in no time. The little radar you can choose to activate at the bottom of the screen, something existing in all the FIFA games, is a nice little tool to help you calibrate your passes and shoots.
Now for the final point, game options: you can choose, obviously, to do the World Cup, either from qualifications matches or for the already set up group matches (for example, Italy is teamed up with Ghana, USA and Czech Republic) but you can freely change the group members or randomize them at your own liking. Next we have a little neat mode: you're given a real situation already started (e.g.: a team losing 2 to 1 to another)... you've to take control of the losing team and make them win in like 15 minutes. This could sound addicting but actually could have been developed better as it is not very addicting as it may seem.
I imagine that in a football game you care for gameplay and graphics and little for other things, except maybe the television report: it is simply great, at least in the English version, with the great voice of McCoist and another ... uh, man of whom I unfortunately do not remember the name (but they mention it, so my bad). The cheering crowd is simply awful: it doesn't matter whether it is a penalty kick in the first game of the World Cup or an equalizer in the Final, the crowd will always cheer the very same way, or worse, it won't cheer AT ALL if you're the away team.
But what about final suggestions about buying the game or not. Well, even if there are some poor features, this game still got an 8 from me, so I don't think it's a bad game actually, I still play it and I always have fun trying to score in different ways and such... so, if you're keen on football and you've loved the World Cup (as an Italian, I personally have), you should really buy it. There are some slowdowns but they really don't get much in the way if you can feel the football.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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