Replay Value: 9
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Canada
Number Of Players: 1-8 (online)
The greatest overhaul was given to the manager mode. The new and improved manager mode, inspired by Madden's deep franchise options, gives you the deepest customization of your own franchise ever. It lets you customize almost every aspect of management over a 15-year season. As a manager you can choose your sponsor and the right contract that best suits your budget. Sponsor payoffs include a bonus for winning a game, a respectable cup championship finish, and even a loyalty bonus for sticking with your sponsor over the years, which can really help you in the budget department. Options to build your franchise include paid player scouts to find your stars, jacking up ticket prices to expand your stadium, and hiring new staff members to deal with player skills and strategy. Pick and choose to build an empire based on your management skills, which ultimately effect the way your team performs on the pitch.
For the first time in FIFA's history, online play has been added for those who want to take their game to the next level. Online play is free as long as you agree to accept a waiver from EA to send you advertisements, or if you don't like giving your permission for ads you can bite the bullet and pay two dollars for a subscription. Online you will quickly find out how skilled you really are when you play head to head with other players. Gameplay was fairly smooth with the exception of a couple moments of lag where the game pauses for a second until the system rights itself, but no advantage is given to either player. The addition of online play adds a new spectrum of gameplay and will test your skills to their fullest potential.
Gameplay has continued to improve as FIFA has added a new tackling system which allows you to use the right analog stick to steal the ball or throw some elbows in the battle for possession. The Developers have also switched from using the left analog stick for first touch jukes to using a more conventional method of the L2 button to school your opponent. By using R2 the new pace control button allows you to slow down your player and shorten dribbling distance, which is essential for keeping possession of the ball in more crowded parts of the pitch. Overall ball physics have been improved for dribbling, passing, and shooting.
FIFA has also added a new aspect of skill and strategy to master, dubbed "attacking gameplay." As the Mid-field battle rages on, the D-pad is used to command both your offense and your defense to satisfy all your strategic needs to help ensure victory over the most intelligent and challenging Fifa A. I. yet. On D you can call for a zone defense, offside trap, pressing, and flat back to find your best method for defense. On offense, you can call for a wing play, counter attack, box overload and a third man release. If one formation isn't cutting it for you, using multiple strategies, such as combining offsides traps with zone defense can help give you an edge over a tough opponent. Team attitude is also now a controllable factor. Set your team attitude to make your team play defensive, stay neutral, or go on the offensive to get your winning goal. It takes a little getting used to, controlling your formations and attitude, but with a little bit of practice your new found abilities will give you a step up on the opposition.
Most of the major changes were in the manager mode, but the graphics weren't neglected. An all-new camera effect, where objects in the foreground are in focus, while objects in the background are blurred, has been added to cut scenes and instant replay. The blurring effect adds to the experience, and gives it an authentic feel of actually watching it on TV. Player faces don't seem to have changed too much as they most likely maxed out the full potential of the system – they're as good as they're going to get. Player uniforms have improved, with more detail than ever including current licensed sponsors posted across the front. The stadiums have not changed too much. They still give that home field feel to them, with banners hanging from the upper decks, and stands packed with fans supporting the home team.
FIFA's sound has evolved with a fresh set of announcers. Gone are Motson and McCoist, replaced by Clive Tydsley and Andy Gray. The two have recorded a fair amount of dialog, and you can usually hear fresh commentary throughout each game They are accurate on their play calling and analysis, and will even tell some specific information on some of the more popular players. I believe that FIFA has always had the best commentary out there and this new combination further strengthens my beliefs.
Fans love to chant and react to your every juke or mistake. If you are on the home team and get a good run at the goal, the crowd bursts in support for an attempt to score. EA TRAX will definitely broaden your horizon with all sorts of styles of music from around the world. EA, known for better or worse for their soundtracks, has pieced together a diverse tracklist, which will entertain you simply because it is so different. Being able to choose exactly which songs you want to hear by customizing the playlist, is a nice feature that will keep you from having to listen to your least favorite tunes over and over.
In conclusion, FIFA '06 is a definite improvement over last year's game, and it's the best game the series has ever had. The redeveloped manager mode will occupy you for hours and hours, while you oversee your franchise, and the new online mode will let you test your skills against real opposition from around the world. Improvements in the audio and visual department keep the game feeling fresh, so you won't be wondering what you're missing on the soon to be released version on the Xbox 360. EA has outdone themselves this year, creating an excellent experience for true fans of the beautiful game.