2006 FIFA World Cup Germany limbers up

As men around the globe begin counting down the days until the referee's first sweet peep of the whistle kicks off the start of the FIFA World Cup in Germany, EA, in time-honoured tradition, readies itself for the run out of its official game of the greatest sporting event known to man with this sweet selection of screens.

Due for release in April (the FIFA World Cup begins 9 June), 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany will undoubtedly be another exercise in how to successfully exploit an official licence, offering 127 national teams, complete with authentic player rosters and kits, and accurate recreations of the 12 stadiums that will host matches during the tournament.

Of course, being able to take control of virtual doppelgangers of the world's most famous ball hustlers is always a big attraction for footie fans. And EA claims that it has paid special attention to nearly 100 of the most renowned players, not only making them recognisable at a glance, but also arming them with their signature moves and play styles. A selection of legendary players will also be thrown in as unlockable extras.

In terms of game mechanics, a few tweaks are promised, with a new context sensitive shooting system, although we won't try to guess how this differs from previous versions until we've sampled it ourselves. Another new feature will be the ability to distract the goalkeeper or spot kicker (Grobbelaar style, perhaps?) during penalty shootouts.

Besides offering the chance to progress from the initial qualifying stages all the way through to the FIFA World Cup final, which you can tackle alone or with up to eight friends in multiplayer, a new Global Challenge mode will be introduced that gives players the chance to take part in and alter the outcome of 40 classic moments from the tournament's history.

Hopefully we'll be able to right one of history's most infamous footballing wrongs and bundle over Maradona before he can score his 'hand of god' goal. We live in hope.

Matt Cundy
I don't have the energy to really hate anything properly. Most things I think are OK or inoffensively average. I do love quite a lot of stuff as well, though.