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2006 FIFA World Cup

You wouldn’t be remiss to consider EA Sports’ latest soccer game a quick sequel to the annual chart-topper, FIFA Soccer. No doubt the publisher wants to cash in on its massive investment in the world’s biggest sporting event. Curiously though, this game’s producer goes to great lengths to pitch 2006 FIFA World Cup as a sequel to the 2002 World Cup iteration, and not the recent FIFA Soccer 06. This matters why? Mainly because FIFA Soccer 06 was generally considered to be pretty stinky, particularly on the shiny new Xbox 360.

It’s a semantic difference. Gamers and soccer fans will expect an experience better than the disappointing recent release. And it looks like they'll get it.

The EA Canada developers are certainly crafting a sim that feels and plays a little differently to FIFA Soccer 06. Among the highlights are an improved graphics system on Xbox 360 that fixes some of the terrible lighting of FIFA Soccer 06. More importantly, according to the producer, some frames of animation have been removed from the players. It’s tough to spot the visual impact (a good thing), but it made the players feel more responsive on the field once we actually got the controller in our hands. That's a definite improvement.

What the World Cup license delivers is the opportunity to play out the exact world championship tournament with all the teams that will compete in Germany. Taking a step back you can also guide any of the 127 national teams on the globe-trotting odyssey that leads to the finals, playing all the group qualifiers and earning your way to the finals.