Improved graphics, gameplay and simply a better game. But there are still niggles to sort out. Great game know.

User Rating: 8.5 | FIFA Soccer 06 PS2
The first thing I noticed with Fifa 2006 is that the graphics are much improved than its predecessor. Although I believe the game is using the exact same engine as in the 2005 edition, noticing replays being exactly the same in some areas as the 2005 version. There are many more additions and extras which count towards last ability. Game goal highlights have been enhanced, the commentary seems much better and seeing players going on and off during substitutes all look excellent. I do like watching all the little added quirks from red or yellow cards to the little stat boxes popping up. Graphically this game is very pleasing to the eye and has that quality only EA can give you. There is still a slight graphical bug with players who have short or no hair where parts of their head will flicker. I guess EA couldn't fix that bug because it was also in the evident in Fifa 2005.

So how does Fifa play? Well gameplay is much improved, the passing, off the ball movement when you're on the ball going forward all play really well. On the harder difficulty levels the game engine becomes very realistic. However off the ball the game engine seems to fail to perform such functions as man marking, filling those spaces, closing down players and most often not holding to the formation shape to which you ask. When off the ball the wings are very much neglected and the game A.I. will exploit its own exploit of its own creation!

One niggle I would have to have with the game is the lack of different types of referee's. There should be more contrast to the referee's of today's game. Black, White, Asian, European refs. The annoying thing with the referee's is the lack of invention on names for them. They could have generated some decent names to go with the refs. But alas, the selection of ref names is pitiful.

The main game function is of course season mode and this time they have my favourite low level team of Barnet. So I chose them to take them all the way to the Premiership and into Europe. I like the new feature of stadium upgrades and the other upgrades all seem very expensive. Seeing my new stadiums as I guide Barnet all the way too the top all look great. The sound and atmosphere all seem very realistic. I do feel the commentary at times let's the season mode down a bit by failing to tell the difference between results of home and away. There should be some kind of code to tell the commentators the correct statistics of games played against who and where over the career lifespan. That would make for a much improved analyst from the commentators and would make the game feel that more real.

This time I sort of get to see my team winning the trophy, but it's still not quite what I want to see. What I would like to see is them picking up the trophy and parading it around the ground and then have my players have a picture for the paper segment with the players and trophy in the same picture! A club history would have been nice to see also. Sort of a walk in room to browse what has been won at that club and what you have won to add to that club.

I am not sure how the math works with the currency in Fifa but it should work better than what it is currently. There should be British Pounds (£) for England, Scotland, Euro's (€) for the countries in Europe and American Dollars ($) for the rest of the world. Along with realistic prices for player trading and staff upgrades.

Another problem with this version compared to the last version is the youth system. In the 2005 edition of the game you would get new youth players added to your squad at the start of every season. They failed to implement that in this version and that is a slight let down because that helps to create a loan system for your club along with the ability to sell your youth players for the extra profit which is a big factor in modern football. Going back to the loan system, I don't know why only clubs in your own division can buy or loan players from you, but that should have been widened. This would help the players join clubs equal to the player's stats level.

Speaking of stats, I noticed the morale of players doesn't work very well in season mode. For some reason the fringe players, the ones that don't get to play much should have some morale, but the game doesn't give them any what so ever. And one player I signed to my squad who plays regularly doesn't have any morale statistic at all. He will always be zero unless he scores then he his stat goes up by 1.

On the international scene Holland is still missing. I am not sure of the mystery behind this but Holland wasn't in the 2005 edition either. I wanted to create the Euro 2008 tournament but I had to replace Holland with England! I guess I will be playing with England. The problem I found with setting up the group stages was a simple fact. It wasn't easy putting in the teams that are suppose to be in same group together. It could have been made easier on a new screen right after you had selected the teams you wanted. But I was unable to do this.

There was another irritation I had with player creation. The problem that annoyed me was the limited character length when creating a new player name. For instanced I wanted to add Tom Huddlestone to the Tottenham squad, well I did that but he is just called "Tom Huddlesto" because the surname field only has a length of 9 characters. Then I created John O'Hara but again the character missing is the upper-comma. So that didn't quite work out the way I intended it too. There are a fair number of spaces to add new players. But for the extreme game player is it enough?

Another touch I like is the addition of the 1996 version of Fifa Soccer. It really does should you the difference in gaming over the past 10 years and how much graphics, gameplay and everything else has improved. For the younger generation they might not care so much. But I am amazed that just within ten years how much the industry has improved.

There are also scenarios that can be played and extras to buy along with a fair collection of songs to listen too. There have been so many improvements in the space of a year but a few minor set-backs at the same time. But overall I have been very impressed with the game and enjoy it a hell of a lot. I will certainly play Fifa 2006 for a long time, right up to the time I get an updated version that is!