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2006 FIFA World Cup kicks off

First screens and details emerge from the FIFA dugout of the game of this summer's Coupe de Monde

To not very much surprise at all, EA has announced the newest version of its enduring FIFA franchise for this summer's Coupe de Monde, with the Ronseal-like title of 2006 FIFA World Cup, which will be appearing on pretty much every gaming platform you can imagine (Oh, okay, not Gizmondo).

Of course there're few surprises on the content score, with all 32 teams who've made it to the German finals comprising the main cast. However, if you want to re-write history and include some of the home nations that didn't make it, you can select from over 127 national teams and one hundred of the world's greatest players.

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As well as the usual high levels of presentation we've come to expect from EA Sports titles, there's an intriguing sounding game mode called Global Challenge which allows you to recreate classic moments from World Cup history. Let's hope, for England's sake, that doesn't include any of our classic penalty shoot-outs.

Unlockable legendary players and the ubiquitous bonus World Cup content will also be very much in evidence and, if England do crash out early (Jimmy Hill forbid, we're going all the way this time! - Ed), you'll be able to console yourself with up to eight-person multiplayer to try and win it for the Three Lions - at least in a virtual sense.

Jack Nickolls, Lead Producer on 2006 FIFA World Cup, had this to say on the announcement: "The FIFA World Cup will be the single most watched sporting event by a worldwide television audience, bringing together football fans from around the world. Our game, 2006 FIFA World Cup celebrates this passion by capturing all of the national rivalries in-game, enabling fans to play their heroes and be a part of 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany."

First Xbox 360 screens from the game have just emerged from the tunnel and pretty decent they are too, with Ronaldhino and his fellow Brazilian geniuses represented in all their splendid next-gen glory. Let's just hope that's not an omen.

More on 2006 FIFA World Cup as the tournament builds towards fever pitch.

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