26 Oct, 2005

FIFA 06 Review

DS Review | The DS gets its first soccer game.
The Nintendo DS has been out since February, and since then not many sports titles have graced the handheld. Obviously not deterred by this EA have released the first soccer game for the DS with FIFA 06. The FIFA series is extremely popular, and whilst handheld soccer games have trouble competing with the console incarnations, the transition to the DS will hopefully mean more faithful soccer games. So is FIFA 06 the beginning of a good thing or is there a reason why there is so little sport games on the DS?

EA have tried to cram as much as possible into the game so that it doesn't feel watered down. There is a full season mode, a five year career mode, a tournament mode and a challenge option for the single player. The challenge modes are a highlight, and a surprising inclusion. Those who like to play their footy in a quick game can select the "Kick Off" option which will launch a game with two random teams. The game utilises the official FIFA license and there are more than 500 teams featured in the title.

The season and tournament modes let you choose your favourite squad and take your team through a league or a cup in a season or in a tournament format. These modes are fairly basic, and are for those who just want to play a league of FIFA without worrying about team management. Those who relish the idea of taking control of a team will find the most enjoyment in the career mode. In the career mode, you take control of a team for five years and have more control over your team, you can play the games or skip them and fiddle around with player positions, but overall there isn't as many options as we'd hoped there would be in a career simulation game, which is a little disappointing.

EA have also included multiplayer support for four players if everyone owns a copy of the game, and single cart multiplayer for up to two players. It is possible to play a quick match in multiplayer and is great fun with a friend.


The two screens for the DS are utilised fairly well. The top screen shows all the action and the bottom screen shows a map of a field and the placement of you and your opponant. When entering the field management option you can also drag the player's to the position you want them to field in from now on. Whilst none of this is revolutionary, it is very practical, and having such a detailed view of the ground is very helpful when deciding where to pass to. When a goal is scored you're also able to use the bottom screen to navigate the replay, which let's you control the replay completely. The navigation with the stylus is nearly flawless and it is easy to view a replay from any angle.

The gameplay in the game is where all of it starts to go a little wrong. We'll start with the positives, there was a fairly smooth frame-rate and the game flows at a relatively realistic pace. However, the game is not without it's fair share of problems

Our first complaint lies with how the controls are set out. The controls are really difficult to pick up. The A button is used to shoot and to tackle, if you tackle a player and then don't move your finger away quick enough your player will shoot just as tackling, which is extremely frustrating.

The AI also isn't very intelligent either - we really did expect more. We were hoping for a more realistic game, but it is not uncommon to be alone shooting for goal, or able to stream past many players at once. This make's the game a lot easier than it needs to be, the only real challenge lies in the World Class difficulty; which is a huge upgrade in difficulty.

Graphically, the game looks fairly average. We expected the Nintendo DS would be able to create better player models without sacrificing the frame-rate. The graphics also mean that the stadiums look a little small, which makes the player feel a little closed in.

EA have gone to great lengths to ensure that the sound is of a high production, and for the most part they have succeeded. John Motson provides the commentary and it doesn't become repetitive. The commentary is very clear and it sounds brilliant coming from the Nintendo DS speakers. A lot of effort has also been put into the sound effects, and all of them (ranging from the umpire's whistle to the sound of the ball being kicked) are of a high production. The audio is easily the highlight of the game.

The second screen is utilised surprisingly well

The second screen is utilised surprisingly well
The numerous game modes and single cart multiplayer should last a fair while. The challenges are a fun diversion from the seriousness of the career and season modes. The only thing that could hinder the lifespan is if you become annoyed with the controls, which may happen after a few extra shots on goal than you were hoping for.

FIFA 06 is a bit of a missed opportunity on the Nintendo DS. As the first soccer game released for the handheld, EA had an opportunity to set a high precedent for future DS soccer games, but they have let the ball down a little with this title. The presentation is slick, and there are plenty of gameplay options, but the actual gameplay hasn't been integrated as well as we'd hoped.

The controls are a letdown and the graphics are a little disappointing as well, we expected the overall game to have a polish similar to the sound and gameplay options, but unfortunately this isn't the case. However, if you're after a soccer game for your DS then you will have to settle for FIFA 06, at least until FIFA 07 sees a release next year.

Related Reviews:
Xbox: FIFA 06
The Score
FIFA 06 is an average attempt at soccer on the DS. EA appear to have tried to produce a fully fledged soccer game but we cannot help but feel that the DS version is stripped down. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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