June 28, 2006
Who Wins The World Cup In Soccer Simulations?
Here's a fun fact. Did you know that "Italians are said to be the world's largest consumers of bottled water"? Neither did I, but I do now thanks to the bizarre-o trivia that pops up during World Cup play in "2006 FIFA World Cup."
"FIFA" also reminds me that Pope John Paul II was from Poland, and the Aborigine people have lived in Australia for a super long time. What these tidbits have to do with soccer, who knows? But it's a nice, superfluous extra in a huge and fun soccer game.
Before we get to the game review itself, I'm sure you want to know who wins the World Cup in "FIFA." According to EA Sports, the company that makes "FIFA," the winner in simulation tests is the Czech Republic, which beats Brazil 2-1. How far off the mark is that? EA tests also saw USA beating Italy and Ghana before tying with Czech and losing to Brazil in the Round of 16.
I had hoped to play the Cup finale to get my own results, but soccer games are my No. 1 weakness. I grew up playing American football, basketball and bumper pool. Try as I might, I stink at world "football" in real and virtual forms.
But I can tell you "FIFA" is good times. The players and field don't look as cool as in the rival "World Soccer Winning Eleven 9" (which I gave three and one-half stars a few months back). "FIFA" is even easier to handle than "Winning Eleven."
In previous soccer games, it was annoying to run offense. It's usually very hard to dribble the ball, pass and score. Offense was so frustrating in earlier "FIFAs," it seemed easier to eject the game disk out of the Xbox, fold it into eight pieces and deposit said pieces into a small fire.
The new "FIFA" is improved. But it still suffers two problems. First, you'll be defending another player when the game inexplicably switches your control to another player 20 yards away. That's like if you were defending against a running back in a football game and the game switched your controls to a free safety, without notice.
The other problem is the button you press to steal the ball is the same button you use to pass the ball. So once you steal a ball, the game thinks you also want to kick it, and the ball goes flying away from you. That's idiotic.
There are some options to tinker with these problems, I think. I couldn't figure it out and gave up that wild goose chase.
More soccer-oriented people must have an easier time with "FIFA." But at least it took only three games to win a match, which is a personal record, and winning is always more enjoyable than getting your shins and behind kicked all over the field.
("2006 FIFA World Cup" for Xbox, PS 2 and GCube — Plays entertaining, despite flaws. Looks good. Very challenging. Rated "E". Three and one-half stars.)
NEW TO YOU — USED GAME OF THE WEEK
"College Hoops 2K6" just came out a few months ago, but the Xbox and PS 2 versions are already selling for less than $20, partly because basketball season is over. But it's a very entertaining and slick b'ball outing. It's also available for Xbox 360. It's rated "E".
(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone;" "T" for "Teen;" "M" for "Mature 17+")