FIFA Soccer 06 is actually the second football (or soccer) game to make it onto the PSP platform in its short life span. The first was, coincidentally, FIFA Soccer, which was released around the console’s launch in the belief that any game would sell because of the lack of titles available. Obviously it sold, but it also had its fair share of problems — most notably in the gameplay area. Six months and a fair amount of user feedback should have given EA more than enough time to address all the shortcomings of the original. The question is did they spend this time resting on the bench or up front shooting at the goal?
Visually this is a huge improvement from FIFA Soccer and you’ll notice this first with the smoother animation and front-end presentation. The player models are also very pleasing and while this version doesn’t have the kind of sophisticated texture mapping evident in the more powerful console versions they do appear more ‘alive’ now. In addition the various grounds are well conceived with crowds who create a true football match atmosphere and the odd flag or banner which actually relates to the team playing rather than being a non-descript mixture of pixels.
If you’re anything like me the first thing you’ll do with any football title is jump straight into the action and have a friendly match with your team and your most hated rival. For me this is a local derby (Everton v Liverpool) just to see if I can make the results in a game reflect what I’d really like in reality. You can do this immediately with the ‘play now’ option but after a while you’ll want a more immersive and satisfying style of game. You can get this from the ‘season’ or ‘tournament’ modes, which allow you to play a series of matches and win cups and trophies. If you want a real challenge though you could always enter the series of events, based on real games, where you must overcome the odds and win a game even when you start at a significant disadvantage, which is usually goal difference, but can be players sent off for fouling. Another nice addition (and if you’re really pushed for time) is the juggling mode, which challenges you to keep the ball in the air by pressing the ‘d-pad’ to correspond with the arrows on the screen.
It’s always difficult to pre-record the commentary to a sports title and hope it fits the final product especially when you consider just how unpredictable sport can be. Fortunately the two commentators here are spot on adding to the overall atmosphere of the game. It does become repetitive after some time where you’ll even occasionally find yourself mouthing the words of the commentator as he speaks them but it will take some time before you get to this stage. As with other FIFA outings this PSP version includes a killer soundtrack thanks to EA’s unique relationship with the music industry. This includes artists ranging from Oasis to Bloc Party and everything in-between. You can even experiment with the Trax Player which allows you to select which tracks you want playing during your game and in what order.
Overall this is a genuine improvement on the first FIFA outing, this time feeling far more like it was specifically developed for a handheld audience. What is debatable though is that if it has enough improvements to upgrade from FIFA Soccer, which most people purchased less than six moths ago. There’s also the question of competition and we’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 5, which should be released in a matter of weeks and may just give this title a run for its money. As for now FIFA 06 is your best bet but stay tuned to PSPworld for our thoughts on Konami’s effort coming soon.
Pros: Great Improvement on the Previous Outing, Licensed Players.
Cons: No Career Mode, No PSP - PS2 Connect Available.
Digizo Rating: A-
IGN: 7.4“FIFA Soccer 06 is an improvement and pretty much the FIFA for PSP soccer fans have (and should’ve been) waiting for. It’s smoother, feels better and doesn’t feel so much like a PS2 game squeezed into a PSP’s body.”
GameSpot: 8.7“FIFA 06 not only addresses the problems of its predecessor, but also adds online play and an entertaining ball-juggling minigame to the mix.”
GamePro: 8.0“FIFA Soccer 06 does an excellent job of translating the world’s most popular sport onto the PSP with only a few minor setbacks along the way.”
Gaming Age: 8.7“FIFA is a true upgrade over the previous version, and as I mentioned before, is the best handheld soccer game ever created.”
Aggregate Rating: 8.3
It gets old fast.
Unless you play on Amateur it's just too damn difficult to go past the enemy defenders... well, you can go past, but then they'll grab your shirt and take the ball!... the direction of the shots is random at best, and the goalkeepers all have superhuman reflexes (except on Amateur, of course)... to beat them most of the time you'll have to wait for them to reject your shot.
It's fun for a couple of days, but not a patch on Pro Evo Soccer.
Oh yeah, the minigame sucks... it looks like something a programmer cooked up in his lunch hour and they decided to add as a "feature"...
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