Everyone by now knows that Electronic Arts is the largest and most successful Third Party developer around the world at the moment and that situation does not appear to be changing any time soon. Some would have you believe that anything it touches turns to gold, however others would point out that the statement clearly relates to monetary, not quality value, though. But checking out its latest effort on the Nintendo DS does it seem to sway toward the former or latter?
Think about how powerful the Nintendo DS really is. Do you recall the days of the Nintendo 64 and some of the efforts that hit that system? In fact, you only have to look at quality titles like ISS '98 from Konami, which still stands out as a the best football game on the N64, to see how the Good Game should look like. Therefore, considering the DS is meant to be more powerful, the fact that FIFA 2006 on it looks worse than the atrocious first generation FIFA 64 from nearly ten years ago is rather appalling. Most of the players usually look deformed in FIFA games in general, but these are beyond hope. If you ever played against teams like this in real life you would likely want to just forfeit the match and run away screaming! The stadia are hardly awe-inspiring either, packed full of the norm, in other words blurry cardboard cutout people jiggling around in a crazy fashion. If it were not for the pleasing interface there would be nothing positive to talk about here at all...Thankfully the audio side is rather better, with some decent commentary included, sound effects that do not grate too much and even the odd song slotted in for good measure!
Whilst FIFA 2006 DS’s older brethren have drawn closer to the untouchable Pro Evolution Soccer state of play, this portable version certainly does not appear to go down that road in the slightest. Fair enough, there is a wide selection of teams to choose from, both International and club-level, with over five hundred available, but that does not cut the mustard as the gameplay is a little on the weak side. It is not a complete disaster, but as the début football simulation on the DS it is not one to set the high standards. If Pro Evolution Soccer DS ever emerges this will likely be blown to smithereens.
There are some positives to the play, though, which salvage scraps from this train disaster. You can take your favourite team on a whirlwind ride through league competitions and Cup draws. And to help you on the way, players can utilise the cleverly implemented in-game tactics that are accessed quite easily via the touch-screen or simply use the radar on the bottom screen to check on where that winger has run to so you can aim a precision pass his way…Well, not quite ultra precise as such, more a case of randomly kicking the ball and hoping for the best. To counter this, the game is kind of strange in its balancing, with the ball deflecting off goalkeepers and defenders, falling at your feet and leaving an easy tap-in on far too frequent an occasion. Suddenly any real challenge is sapped from this DS title.
Well, if by challenge you mean completely ridiculous features that take the fun out of the game...In which you would appreciate the awful inclusion of player fatigue. Now, fair enough, if you are to play through a whole season your players are likely to tire. What they do NOT do, however, is completely run out of steam after being in possession of the ball for about three seconds! This means that you will have to resort to rapid passing for fear of barely having enough strength left to raise you leg and tap goal-wards. Why this was thrown in I do not know, but it hinders the fun factor immensely.
Then there is the 'light' Career Mode, which makes the likes of Football Manager roll on the floor laughing so hard until its mighty kidneys arrive splattered on the floor it just collapsed onto. You must take on your team of choice over a period of five seasons, trying to stay afloat as manager by achieving certain set goals (such as finishing in the Top Three or performing well in matches) in order to earn Prestige Points. There is no real detail included, with you simply having to watch your team's tactics before either playing the match yourself, watching it be simulated or having a result randomly generated. If it was not for the good use of the touch-screen and nice goal replays, there would not be much to stay positive about. You might be able to tell how hard it is to be excited by this pap...
But, of course, football is something that rarely grows tiring. That is, unless it is FIFA DS you are playing, as it can easily be breezed through in all its modes without too much trouble, despite the four different difficulty levels available. The diabolical nature of the goal-keeping and defensive Artificial Intelligence means that even when you are struck down by three goals early on, it will hardly be a mammoth task to overturn the opponent's lead and claim victory as your own. Thankfully there are various modes to play through, such as Career, Challenge, Season and Tournament, as well as the addition of single-cart two-player and multi-card four-player options. This only proves to be a brief reprieve for the sole DS football game on the market, though...
There were high hopes for FIFA 2006 on the Nintendo DS for a couple of reasons. First of all the FIFA series has been on the up-and-up over the past few years and secondly, the first DS football game could hardly fail to be slightly impressive. Oh boy, were we wrong to assume! All that can be hoped is that Konami's hurries up its version of Pro Evolution Soccer for the Nintendo portable...Avoid this like the plague.