Ah, the World Cup. Every four years, soccer fans from around the world gather to celebrate the planet's most popular sport while beating the living snot out of each other. Electronic Arts commemorates the event with 2006 FIFA World Cup, the official game of the tournament with all of the teams and players that will be kicking the rock around Germany this summer (riots and hooligans not included).
The two main "simulation" franchises in the soccer video game genre - FIFA and Winning Eleven - have been engaged in a death struggle for years now. 2006 FIFA World Cup adds a little more of Winning Eleven -style flair to their familiar gameplay formula this time around - but not much. This is either a good thing or yet another sign of Electronic Arts' evil plan for world domination, depending on which camp you reside in. As in the past, EA's offering is more pick-up-and-play for the mainstream sports gamer, but offers some depth and subtleties that will enable more experienced players to do their best Beckham impersonation.
Gamers who've got any of the last few releases in the FIFA series lying around will be able to jump right onto the pitch - and enjoy slightly snappier controls - without needing to learn the moves that the game has to offer. It will still make you earn your goals, though, and occasionally decide to kick your ass. There are a lot of teams to experiment with, and luckily for those who don't know their Ronaldos from their Geraldos, World Cup places a star over the heads of the more skilled players. While it's not so critical with Argentina or England, it's nice to be able to easily find a go-to-guy when matched up in a heated qualifier between, say, Cote d'Ivoire (yes, that is a real country) and South Africa.