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User Rating: 10 | FIFA Soccer 06 PS2
The first time you play FIFA 06, you'll be prompted to let the game know which of its 500-plus teams is your favorite, and then, before you know what's going on, you'll be challenged to a match against a formidable "Classic XI" squad that counts such men as Zico and Eric Cantona among its players. Winning that match will award you your first 1,000 points to spend at the fan shop on such unlockables as classic player profiles, all-star teams, different-colored balls, alternate team uniforms, extra player celebrations, new stadiums, and season highlights footage from last year's German, English, French, and Italian leagues. To stand a chance of winning that match, you'll need a good grasp of FIFA 06's control scheme, which--although there have been some improvements made since last year--certainly won't be a problem if you're a fan of the series.

If you're not a fan of the FIFA series but are taking the time to read this review, it's probably because you're a Winning Eleven devotee, in which case you'll be pleased to know that the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of FIFA 06 let you opt for an alternate control scheme that's straight out of Konami's soccer franchise. The PC game also features customizable controls, although it's impossible to re-create Winning Eleven's controls perfectly.

Once you've decided which button you want to use for shooting and which you want to use for long passes, you can start familiarizing yourself with some of FIFA 06's new controls, which include using the D pad or left analog stick to change offensive and defensive tactics on the fly, as well as using a single button to perform a dummy move (either to yourself or to a teammate) whenever a pass is headed your way. There are eight different tactical changes and team mentalities you can switch on and off on the fly, including counter attack wing play, box overload, offside trap, and zone defense. Like many of FIFA 06's new features, these aren't really explained in the instruction manual but are instead covered comprehensively via easy-to-follow help screens in-game.

Other changes you'll find on the pitch in FIFA 06 include much simpler (almost to the point of being retro) control systems for set pieces, much-improved commentary and TV-style presentation, and the all-new playing-style feature, which affects your team's performance based on how well your players feel the match is going. This doesn't necessarily mean that your team will become stronger if it's winning, though, because your players' morale is influenced by recent action on the pitch rather than by everything that's happened since the kickoff, as well as by whether you're playing the match at home or away