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FIFA 06 Road to FIFA World Cup Xbox 360

Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £49.99

FIFA 06 Road to FIFA World Cup, an introduction.

When a new console is released it's often the case that you're waiting a few months for your favourite games to appear. This is especially true if you like sports games. However, for the launch of the Xbox 360, EA have released a whole suite of their ever popular sports games including Madden NFL, NBA Live, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and of course a FIFA game. It's only natural to assume that these games will be simply be Xbox 360 versions of the recent 06 EA Sports titles. However, this isn't really the case.

What's the game about?

The title really gives it away. FIFA 06 Road to FIFA World Cup simply concentrates on you getting a national side of your choice to the World Cup Finals. There are no national leagues, no club teams and no club competitions to participate in. The aim is simply to qualify for the World Cup. The game includes 72 international teams (most of which are European) and the game modes on offer are Friendly Match, Create Tournament, Practice Mode, Road to FIFA World Cup and Xbox Live.

What's good about the game?

Being able to play a football game on launch day is always welcome and the 30 day free Xbox Live Gold trial, that you're given with the console, will allow you to see that when played online FIFA 06 RtFWC can actually be an enjoyable and addictive experience. Indeed even when played offline, against human opposition, the game can be enjoyable. Online matches can be ranked and unranked. In fact the multiplayer aspects of the game are perhaps its best feature. As you've probably read elsewhere, you can have a kick around on a small indoor pitch whilst you're waiting for a game to load. It's kind of a nice feature but to be honest the load times aren't particularly long so it's not a particularly worthwhile feature. When the ball goes out of play you can perform substitutions, tactical and formation changes on the go, so to speak, with simply presses of the directional pad which is a nice touch.

What's not so good about the game?

In truth FIFA 06 RtFWC is a pale imitation of the FIFA 06 game that arrived on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The fact that there are no club sides in the game and that a lot of the modes, that were included in FIFA 06 on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, are missing is a bitter pill to swallow especially when FIFA 06 RtFWC is a more expensive game. It's not just the lack of club sides and modes that disappoints though. The frame rate just isn't as smooth as it should be. Some animations seem to be rather choppy and the ball physics aren't always as realistic as they should be. Action replays have real frame rate issues and often turn into slide-shows because the frame rate drops so low. The game only contains about a third of all the national teams that attempted to qualify for the 2006 World Cup. On entering the Road to FIFA World Cup mode you'll notice that you can either choose Real World or Custom groups. However, most of the included 72 teams are from Europe so if you choose a Real World group you'll only be able to play with a European team. If you want to play the mode as a South American, African, Asian or Oceanic side you'll have to choose a Custom group option which means your qualifying group will look nothing like it would in real life. When you've played your warm-up competitions and qualified for the World Cup finals you'll also be disappointed to learn that playing in the World Cup finals isn't a possibility in this game which again is a rather large disappointment. Dead ball situations such as free-kicks, corners and penalties don't feel right at all. When taking a penalty the camera isn't placed directly behind the play. The camera is behind the player but it's kind of angled to the left hand side which makes taking the penalties awkward.

How does it look?

On first glance that game looks great and without a doubt it's the best looking FIFA game to date. However, with extended play you'll begin to notice things are not quite right. Some players are instantly recognisable and look good but some look poor and players in less fashionable national sides don't really resemble their real-life counterparts. As we've already mentioned, the game has animation and frame rate issues that give the game a rather unfinished look. The crowd look OK from a distance but appear to be rather strange when viewed close up and there seems to be a kind of crazy blurring effect going on which looks hideous in places. The game does offer a variety of camera angles which are actually quite good. The various stadia in the game look good (although there are only a few official stadiums here). The team kits look impressive too. This has to be the first football game to actually feature realistic looking grass and whilst this isn't anything to get excited about it does hint at the level of detail that will be possible in future FIFA titles.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The match commentary isn't subtitled, as in virtually all sports titles to date, but in every other respect the game is fine for deaf gamers. Outside of the matches all information is in text. During the games a text menu will appear when the ball goes out of play which indicates you can make tactical and formation changes as well as substitutes. There are no visual indications to show why play has been stopped (for free-kicks) but most of the time it's pretty obvious and the action replays will show the foul or offside decision that was given. There are text descriptions for bookings and sending offs though.

Final thoughts.

When it was first announced that a FIFA game would arrive on Xbox 360 launch day it must have been welcome news for many fans of the series. Indeed had the game been a graphically superior version of FIFA 06 it would have certainly been a game to recommend. However, although it has FIFA 06 in the title the game has nothing in common with the PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox versions of FIFA 06. The game can actually be quite enjoyable when played as a multiplayer game but those looking for single-player football action would be better with an Xbox football title that's compatible with the Xbox 360 or waiting for the football games that are sure to appear in 2006.

 

Overall Game Rating: 4.8/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:


(Click the letter or here for details)

Unfortunately this Xbox 360 version of FIFA 06 isn't in the same league as the versions that appeared on the other consoles. There's not enough content for the single-player and the lack of club sides is a major disappointment. The game fares better as a multiplayer game but overall the game is a big disappointment.