Wednesday 3 May 2006
Remember Baddiel and Skinner singing about "Thirty years of hurt" during their classic England anthem Three Lions? That's how we feel about EA's FIFA series - it feels as if it's been that long since we played a semi-decent version of the series.
EA has obviously taken note of all the criticism directed at FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup 2006, and the result is the best soccer game (that isn't Pro Evolution Soccer) we've played in ages. Thank goodness for that.
Lots of new ideas, from the subtle to the overt, fill the rich gameplay in FIFA WC. On 360, it borders on the sublime. From the Match of the Day-style match intros to the dynamic replays, mad celebrations, magnificently detailed players and a carnival atmosphere in the stadia - this is presentation dynamite. EA has done a top-notch job capturing the essence of the World Cup, the biggest event in the entire sporting calendar.
New shooting mechanics mean that instead of using your power bar to place strikes, you'll instead determine the angle of a shot by holding down the shoot button. It's a vastly improved method, and results in some realistic-looking screamers. Factors like how closely you are marked and distance from goal also play their part.
We soon noticed that goalmouth action was more dynamic, so shots often cannoned back off the crossbar or were tipped onto the post by keepers only to be blasted into the back of the net by our strikers. It all helps get the adrenaline pumping.
We're even happy with the concept of the outrageously talented star players. Give the ball to a Rooney, a Zidane or a Henry and you'll feel invincible. Okay, so you'll still have to be handy with a control pad to whiz past the opposition, but the concept succeeds in conveying the irrepressible feeling that you're controlling a genius.
While default difficulty is boredom central, the good news if that if you ramp difficulty up to Pro or World Class, FIFA WC's matches become close, tight-knit, exciting affairs.