- Platform: Windows XP
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- Media: DVD-ROM
This game is packed with thrilling play, top-notch graphics, and exciting crowds. View larger.
There are two dozen famous players that can be unlocked and added to their national team's roster. View larger.
Every supporter in the crowd is armed with streamers, confetti, and balloons. View larger.
2006 FIFA World Cup defaults to the semi-pro difficulty, the level at which you will probably quite handily cut through the competition's AI (artificial intelligence) like a hot knife through butter. But the World Cup mode is where most people start, and although its default settings have you assume control of one of the 32 teams that qualified for the finals, it also includes the 95 other teams that didn't make the final cut. You can now begin in the qualifying rounds in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania, or jump straight to the final 32 teams using real or randomly generated group information. If you are a veteran soccer player looking for a truly punishing challenge, the unlockable Perfect difficulty level will give you the game of your life.
The player animations in 2006 FIFA World Cup are excellent, and the controls are fully customizable. Although every player on the pitch has a handful of skill moves at his disposal, you'll find that good use of the intuitive first-touch controls, along with passes, through balls, and dummies, are your most reliable means of besting your opponents. The most notable improvements in this version of World Cup soccer are its new star players feature, the new shooting mechanism, and the penalty shootout.
Denoted by a star above their heads, there are two dozen unlockable players that can be inserted onto the bench of their respective national teams and can take over the game in a variety of ways. There are play-making passers like David Beckham, dribblers like Ronaldinho, speedsters like Michael Owen, and shooters like Alessandro Del Piero. Just like in real life, if you are able to play to your stars' strengths, you'll greatly increase your chances of winning. Penalty kicks are also more fun than ever. Opposing goalies can now dance, jump, and move left and right to get into the heads of the penalty kicker. As a kicker, your goal is to hit a small bar on a shot meter, which, if done successfully, allows you to power the ball into the selected corner with ease. However, if you take too long the goalie and the crowd will get to you, forcing the controller to shake and the bar on the shot meter to dance.
The overall presentation throughout the World Cup mode, and throughout the entire game, is amazing. Before each match, a camera positioned somewhere in orbit around the Earth zooms in on the appropriate German stadium, and you'll be treated to flybys of the grounds where almost every supporter in the crowd is armed with streamers, confetti, and balloons. You can choose to listen to one of the game's many licensed songs, which come from an eclectic soundtrack spanning 14 countries. Good pre-match commentary replete with World Cup trivia and anecdotes is the icing on the cake, and as your players line up on the pitch before kickoff, you feel the excitement of the moment. The UK announcing duo of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend raise the bar in terms of soccer commentary. Combined with the chants and roar of the crowd, you will find yourself sucked in to a intensely immersive, emotional soccer experience, especially when leading your favorite team in the finals.
Another great feature is 2006 FIFA World Cup's global challenge mode, where you are tasked with matching or bettering memorable team performances from World Cup history in 40 different scenarios. For example, you might be required to jump into a game with only 30 minutes remaining and win by the same margin as the real-life victors, simultaneously trying to achieve bonus objectives such as keeping a clean sheet, or not having any players booked. And when you feel like pitting your 2006 FIFA World Cup skills against a human opponent instead of the AI, you can play online or to get some friends over for a FIFA Lounge session. Like its predecessor, 2006 FIFA World Cup requires you to either pay a small fee, or submit your e-mail address before you can play online.
2006 FIFA World Cup's Lounge mode supports up to eight players, although it can certainly be enjoyed by just two or three. Like the Lounge mode in its earlier iteration, 2006 FIFA World Cup's Lounge keeps track of your performances against all of the other participants, giving you a different options for determining who gets to play next. The Lounge mode also retains the "cheap shots" feature, which lets you level the playing field against opponents by using cheats you've earned during previous performances. As another fun option, the Lounge mode has a new risk-style map feature that allows you to take control of countries on the map by winning games with, or against, them.
The closest thing yet to experiencing the excitement and emotion involved in World Cup soccer, and at a fraction of the ticket price, 2006 FIFA World Cup is just too good to pass up.