The FIFA series has been going for so long, that when it first came out Wayne Rooney had barely learned how to swear. Traditionally it would be left for us to report that the appearance of his bloated face on the box is the only tangible difference from last year's instalment(s). And while to the untrained eye this is superficially the case, closer inspection reveals a number of improvements.
The first good news is that they've got rid of those pathetic multiple-choice corners. For 06 it's a far more natural case of hoofing the ball into the box - either high or low - or playing it short. Pretty simple really, and perhaps a courtesy they'll consider extending to free kicks next year.
As for open play, it's a more physical approach, with players frequently being bundled off the ball. So much so that it's often quite hard to play football out there, with time on the ball at a premium, although you can slow down the man in possession to give you time to execute a move. A lot of build-up play is required to get anywhere near the opposition goal, and simply getting a shot away is a big ask, as there always seems to be bodies in front of the ball, leading to a flurry of goalmouth scrambles.
DON'T BE A DUMMY
As ever, a degree of manual dexterity is required to pull off the numerous moves, and suffice to say it's not worth attempting without a PS2 pad or equivalent. But while showboating can be a successful tactic, you'll fall on your arse at least as many times as you'll pull off an outrageous dummy.
Off the pitch, there's the usual bewildering array of options, including a thumb-ruining 15-season management mode, with lower-division fans catered for along with Premiership glory-seekers. Unlikely as it sounds, playing as The Mighty Chester, replete with real names, passable likenesses and, er, last season's kit, is not something to be underestimated. FIFA 06 may not be perfect, but it is perfectly playable, and is probably the best we could have hoped for. Apart from EA buying Konami...
It's good but it's not right
- Improved gameplay
- Lower-division teams
- Bearable commentary
- Slightly unrefined
- Not quite PES