Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The SGM Super 30: Video Game #23

FIFA 2006

Again, I hand this one over to Ron Beauregard, simply 'cause he's the soccer expert:

FIFA 2006 is the latest version of EA's proper football, or soccer, franchise. As with all EA sports titles, the programmers have devoted an intense amount of energy on making things as realistic as possible. The game boasts 21 full leagues and, according to the website, about 10,000 players. The new Pro Soccer Evolution titles have slightly better gameplay, especially on the mechanics of free kicks and strikes, and better graphics, but has far fewer teams and players to choose from. FIFA can not be topped on its authenticity.

To give you a better sense of the depth of FIFA, the game mode includes every team in the English league system. This would be equivalent to giving us all pro baseball teams down to Class-A. This is especially handy for the games career mode. Here, you are given 15 full seasons to become the best manager you can be. Each season begins with a set of expectations from your board of directors. Meet them and your managerial rankings go up. Fail a majority of them and you get the sack. You have a good deal of control over your budget, including ticket prices, player wages, and staff upgrades. Teams in League 2, the English basement, can be promoted to League 1 after the season if they come in in the top 2 of the league or win a special playoff. So, in theory, you can take a team from the bottom of the ladder and make them into European champions in five seasons. The transfer market is highly detailed and you can go "international" and steal players from other leagues. The transf er engine is also pretty realistic, except for the time when Arsenal offered my 46 million dollars for West Ham's Dean Ashton. I turned that down for fear that it would make my PS2 explode.

I have always been reluctant to buy these games that come out every year because I don't know if they are worth it. FIFA 06 improved a great deal from 05 in the shooting and free kick control (still not as good as the competition though) and worked out most of the bugs. There are still things to improve though. It sucks that the team ratings (1 to 5 stars) are fixed even as a team improves. I'm currently playing with League 2 Swindon Town on the moderate difficulty setting. I'm crusing to first in the league and have won the League Cup and could win two more trophies. My rating has stuck at 2 stars and has made it impossible to transfer any decent players. The ratings and transfer probabilities should factor in current form so it makes it easier to build a team when the wins are coming. Conversely, if form drops players should be ready to get out of dodge. If they fix that and some of the mechanics, it could be the perfect soccer game.

The game is extremely valuable for football fans whose teams have taken a turn for the worse. My team, West Ham United, have had a season reminiscent of the Exorcist 3. Tons of talent. International players. A team owner loaded with cash. But they are currently sitting in 19th and about to be dropped to the Championship (i.e. AAA). Except on FIFA, where they are 3 time defending European champions. In reality, Dean Ashton had his leg broken in a training session for England when Sean Wright-Phillips slid in and made a bad tackle. In the FIFA 06 world, he has averaged 40 goals a season over the last three years. Marlon Harewood, who has played like an absolute donkey this year and is no longer lining up for the team, has numbers near that. FIFA is a good investment just for how things might have been.

That has singlehandedly put all of my write-ups to shame, to shame I say.

1 comment:

Rev. Joshua said...

You let me know 48 hours before NCAA Football 2006 goes up. I will not have football belittled with this soccer foolishness.