EA shoots... and scores! - A Review

Leftos

Youth Team
My grabbing the new FIFA game was quite unexpected, even for me. Although I've been playing FIFA since it's very first steps (I had FIFA International Soccer on my 80486), I had been quite reluctant as to what would be delivered to me in the latest installment of the franchise.

Now, FIFA 2006 (or 06 if you prefer), had been a joy to behold and a huge disappointment at the same time. Gameplay had got better, graphics were pretty much at the same good level (when I say good, anyone remember what's 32-bit color depth by the way?), and the Manager Mode was promising. After release, it was packs like OckHAM's CEP, as well as the numerous great patches (should I mention Billy, NK, and all the others?) that kept your interest high on the game. However, the much failed animations (keeper entering the goal with the ball in his hands, no goal, shots going wide, goal), the last minute drop of much-awaited Lounge Mode, as well as other factors jumped and hit you right on the head every single time you played the game.

To be honest, I wasn't interested in the World Cup game. I hadn't been following its progress, watching trailers or anything, as I had done with FIFA 06. And boy, was I wrong.

I should have remembered that if anything, EA was good to deliver with ceremonial issues of the game. Everyone remembers the quality of RTWC 98, World Cup 98, Euro 2000, World Cup 2002, UEFA Champions League 04-05. Those versions always seemed to have the edge over their annual brothers, the regular versions of FIFA.

And in a single sentence, 2006 FIFA World Cup puts FIFA 06 to shame.

Department to department, here's what I think of the game...

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Graphics
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I know I shouldn't be starting with this department, although it is used to. Anyway, WC 2006 offers nice graphics, with not much difference over its brother. The players look well-detailed, and on the ones you'll get to see a custom face, you'll be quite surprised at the quality. EA has (of course) licensed all official final stadiums as well as some others, and the work on them is obvious. Proper celebration effects such as confetti are included, and add to the presentation which is covered up next. So, if you're playing the game on your last-gen PC or Console, you won't be disappointed, nor will you be amazed.

Too bad not all national teams have their licensed kit, but at least EA tried to go close to it with generic ones, that won't disappoint but the grumpiest ones.

NOTE: Once again EA has not set the nice rendering mode as default, so for a smooth gameplay, create a "situation.ini" file with Notepad in your main game folder, and enter inside it "RENDER_RATE_MODE=2" without the quotes. Save it and start the game. There you go, smooth framerate.

Score: 8 out of 10

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Presentation
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Those of you who have played UEFA CL 04-05, will most likely still remember the innovative presentation of the game. The cutscenes were amazing, and I can still remember my heart beating like mad while watching the entering cutscene of the final. Adding to the game's presentation, besides the great atmosphere, was the manager's reactions on-screen on certain occasions, as well as the replays of previous highlights when the ball exited the field. FIFA 06 was quite disappointing in comparison, but WC 2006 comes to give us a fix of joy.

The very good atmosphere returns, with the cutscenes having been completely reworked, so each and every one feels (and most of the times IS) new, even cutscenes after the ball has crossed the lines for a corner will make you wonder if you're still playing a football game, but if I have to really mention something is the Entrance Scene. Most of us skip it, but since I was in a good mood and let the one of my first friendly play on, I was left in awe by the sudden cuts between the regular entrance scene of players of both teams running with the ball, passing, making scissor kicks. So the entrance scene along with the various others in-game cutscenes really give a cinematic effect which you'll enjoy.

I could really go on and on about how good the presentation is, but you should probably just see for yourself. It won't let you down.

Oh... and lucky us, no pseudo-widescreen (as in UEFA CL 04-05). Enough cinematic effects for one day (or issue.)

Score: 10 out of 10 (I just couldn't give it an 11)

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Sound
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Here we go, the sound field. Well, here we have both ups and downs. The good stuff is that we have every national anthem included, the crowd provides well, and the commentary is... well... great as always, if you ask me.

Although to tell you the truth, I have some complaints. EA didn't change the fact that if the away team scores a goal, the crowd remains just as was. On the contrary, you're risking destroying your speakers if the home team scores and you're playing on high volume. I just don't get it. Doesn't the away team have supporters? And anyway, if you don't want that, make the home supporters freeze and stay in silence after their team has conceded a goal, just like in UEFA CL 04-05.

Another small complaint is that the new second commentator has most of his comments on a very low volume. Although you can hear the first one pretty clear (most of his lines are copy-pasted from FIFA 06 anyway), EA didn't seem to record the second one's on the same volume.

Anyway, small complaints shouldn't ruin your whole experience. As I said, FIFA always provided in terms of atmosphere, and take note that this installment, provides in much more than just that.

Last but not least, the sountrack offers, as with the latest FIFAs ,songs from all over the world, but between the lesser-known artists you'll find names such as DT8 Project (for Ministry of Sound fans like me), Fischerspooner, Depeche Mode and others. Music for all tastes this year it seems.

Score: 8 out of 10

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Gameplay
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Most of you, I'm sure, are curious as to what's new, what's old, and so on, on the gameplay department. Well, after playing just the first half of my first friendly match, I sent a text message over to my mate just to tell him how great I felt it was.

Yes, finally EA has taken care of gameplay as well. The animations have much better variety and seem flawless, new moves have been introduced, the AI works much better as players jump to open spaces, the right player heads for the ball, and the computer opponents are more challenging on the lower levels. I can't tell you for sure about the higher levels of difficulty, I haven't tried getting thrashed yet (yep, I suck!)

Also, the player/pitch size analogy is much, much better. Installments of FIFA up to 06 made it seem like the players were gigantic in comparison to the pitch, and they could make it from one side of the stadium to the other in seconds. EA has seemed to taken notice of this, and now the players have a realistic size which should provide more room for moves and gameplay in general.

Notice that now the power meter has been replaced by a trajectory meter, so you don't choose the power of the shot, but how high or low it goes. Actually, how low or high it goes, as a tap will make a very low shot, and holding it down will aim for the top corner (or the birds flying over the supporters, depending on the player.) Don't ask me on whether that's better or worse. I'm just... cautious. I would prefer controlling the power of my shot, but the new shooting system doesn't seem to bother me. Yet.

EA, as I read on another review, was making the game with "eyes on the prize", or even better "eyes on the winner, so far". WC 2006 feels more PES'y (yeah, like that's a word...), and the gameplay feels at last more open, slow and satisfying, unlike the FIFA 06 installment which in terms of action was compared to First Person Shooters, really.

HINT: Check out the new penalty system. I won't say more. Just check it out. You'll be amazed. This hint goes for presentation, quite as well.

Score: 9 out of 10 (All you could ask from a new FIFA)

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Game Modes
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Here's a very, very good part. Hell, the only part I've had complaints from so far was the Sound one, but anyway, game modes are enough, if not more than enough.

Play Now lets you select the teams, and start a game that can have the form of anything ranging from a Friendly, a Qualifier, a Group Stage, even a World Cup Final. You can also select the ball used, and the stadium. Oh, have I said how nice the menus are? No? Oh god! They're very nicely designed, fast-flowing (unlike FIFA 06 and olders), and on most (very most) cases not laggy at all. Saving? Oh yes, 3 verification screens. Still. EA should look into that.

I'm getting off subject though...

The Lounge! Yes, the Lounge is on the PC too this time, and offers to keep you and your mates busy if you prefer to play over a single PC. The Lounge keeps progress of 8 different players against each other, and offers bonuses to those who know to win. It goes to more than that, though. If your progress is bad, and you manage to win a friend of yours which the game considers much better than you, you'll get a much bigger bonus, just wait and see.

World Cup Mode, but of course! Start from the qualifiers and rally up to the final! It's RTWC and WC altogether! What more do you want? Presentation's amazing, I've already told you so! Do you need to know more? Just pick your national team and lead them to glory.

Before I go on describing each mode, let me just say a few words about the others. The game offers challenges of the best world cup matches of the past, pure classics that you should play to re-live (or learn about) the past. A straight to penalty shoot-out mode is offered, by popular request. Also, multiplayer offers Direct IP and Online, quite well so far.

Don't worry, you won't get bored soon. When you do, get your mates over, enter the lounge or play some classics. Heck, even the Penalty Shootout games are popular among friends!

Score: 10 out of 10

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Overall
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Without a doubt, in my humble opinion, the best installment in the franchise so far. It has already replaced FIFA 06 on my hard-drive even though it only offers national teams and no clubs, but it's a pure joy to play the damn game. Get off your damn chair and buy it, rent it even if you're still reluctant!

EA won't disappoint you this time. Well, won't disappoint the most of you. We'll all find flaws sooner or later, but I suggest that we try for once to enjoy a very well done installment in the franchise called FIFA.

After so many years, yes, it deserves its money.

Score (average): 9 out of 10
 

Leftos

Youth Team
Ah, credits for that go to the various forum members that have posted it before me. I can't really name them all, I'd have to spend all night here!
 

Jomi

Reserve Team
Thanks for your review Leftos !
Great report (Y)
I did not want to get this game in the first place, because I'm pretty satisfied with my customized fifa 06, and also because I found no interest at all in the demo ,but you made me change my mind...
So I will probably end up buying it, I guess...

cheers man
 

Leftos

Youth Team
@KB8: What I had in mind was to actually mention the gameplay's slower than FIFA 06, not that it's slow in general. However, if you ask me, the gameplay's speed is just enough for me.

Oh, and do not let the demo get you down! I'm telling you, the full game's nothing like it! Nor does it have that crazy speed, I don't know why it came out so wrong.

@Xifio: I have to say I hadn't noticed that. Well, another point to EA for really working on the game this time!
 

jjgadget

Youth Team
NOTE: Once again EA has not set the nice rendering mode as default, so for a smooth gameplay, create a "situation.ini" file with Notepad in your main game folder, and enter inside it "RENDER_RATE_MODE=2" without the quotes. Save it and start the game. There you go, smooth framerate.


Can you explain the sitiation.ini file a bit more clearly, how to create..etc..
thx. :ewan:
 

KB8

Reserve Team
Open notepad.exe
Write RENDER_RATE_MODE=2
File - Save as..
Choose 'All files..'
Name the file situation.ini
And save.
:ewan:
 

WhiteBalla

Youth Team
Just got it, its way better, won first friendly v Netherlands 4-0, gameplay is fast, not slow like some said, good presentation, offensive players make better runs into space and third attackers are actually in the play.
I recommend!
 


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