The World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world, in both attendence and televison viewers. In any Major centre across north america you can walk down the street and see people huttled around local pubs trying to get a glimse of there favourite teams game. This event has been hosted in all of the worlds largest countries from Uraguay in 1930, the United States in 1994 and now the biggest ever in 2006 Germany. In the beginning there was only 13 nations participating in an event that was started because the Olympics were cancelling soccer as an event. Now in 2006 there are 32 teams that have qualified to participate in Germany. The world cup is truly the world event everyone is watching. EA recognised the stature and vast world wide attention this event brings they have released FIFA World Cup Germany 2006.
My first impression as the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 was while it was loading; the opening sequences were the graphics and sound really got my attention. The incredible views of the stadiums, the roar of the crowd, the players lined up in a row, showing us the same camera view we see on TV, the extra attention to the details in the players was stellar, and I still hadnt played yet. It was like being in the stadium, you get the full effects of where the sun is, shadows; how they cut the grass only thing missing is the smell of fresh cut grass so you can really take a deep breath and feel you were there, I was ultimately surprised with the visual aspects of the opening sequences.
Being an avid EA Sports fan I couldnt wait to get started. The screens functions were hard for me to navigate at first, but with a little time I realized it was my first world cup of soccer experience that was the problem. I started the game by choosing a quick game with the teams Canada vs. the US. The game starts with the pass the ball, and race down the field, thinking it is NHL 2006 (that I am so familiar with) and I would immediately be able to use years of training and use the old left right fake and cut for the net and shoot to the opposite corner, right! Wrong, the next thing I know I have lost control of the ball and they are kicking a high pass down field, a soft header to the man breaking wide who makes another high pass into the crease and a man I hadnt see yet heads it past my goalie and I am down 1 nil.
After a couple of 0-3 games and I got the hang of the controls, the moves and the pace of soccer. You dont have to go all out all the time like in other sports games. Ball control and mid-field possession is just as important as getting your striker open, so he can take advantage of the scoring chances. Then it happens, the first GOAAAAAAAAAAAAL! What a feeling! The pressure, the intensity and of course the sweaty palms. I was hooked. Now I learned the some of the movements of the joystick and the flow of the game I felt I was ready for the some of the more challenging new FIFA experiences, the FIFA World Cup Mode. In this mode you get many options with player stats, Leader boards, scouting reports of the 127 national teams you can choose to have in the tournament. You get to participate in the round robin qualifiers to see how you be seeded in the next round of elimination, you loose here and you are out of the tournament. On your road to the world cup you can get the feel of being in total control of our favourite nation. You get to make all of the decisions, from your starting goalie, forwards and defence. You can plan your substitutions that you can make during the game. If the thought of getting eliminated makes you quezzy, try the Global Challenge Mode, Xbox Live or the improved penalty kick mode. EA has created 40 challenges with scenarios of big game come backs in the battle of Korea, or in the battle of Africa where they want you to score 8 goals to defeat your opponent. I really enjoyed the different challenges of this mode and it helped me hone my skills to take on the more difficult challenges this game has to offer like Xbox live where you can play online with some friends or create new friends by searching for matches with the online search engine which is easy to navigate even for the novice online players. The online experience was a unique one for me. I thought it would be slow and I would be able to react quickly to the abilities of my fellow competitors. But quite the contrary there was virtually no difference in the speed; sound and the graphics engine were perfectly suited to this type of play. The penalty kick is a challenge that is short and can be some fun. Trying to out wit the shooter as you play the guessing game of where the ball is going as you get to play goal. Or as the expert shooter, who has such a large goal it will be hard not to score, well if you think that crank up the games ability and this is truly an interactive experience.
Suggestions: Overall this game is very good. If I were going to make any recommendations to EA Sports it would be to eliminate some of the unflattering aspects of the games. The first is the crowds and commentators. There has to be a way to choose who is going to call the game and what type of crowd is in the stands. Have a variety of commentators from around the world do the voice work. Have the crowds with a few different intensities. From mild and well behaved to aggressive fight in stands kind of atmosphere. The second is and the colours and size of font used in the drop down menus and in country bios used while you are loading the next game. I found them very hard to read even on a large screen TV.
This is one of the soccer games every Xbox 360 owner should buy.