World (Cup) In Motion: Looking Back At 2006 FIFA WORLD CUP - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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World (Cup) In Motion: Looking Back At 2006 FIFA WORLD CUP

Chris Morley finds "time to make friends".
Following its Asian adventure in 2002, the World Cup was back in Europe for its 2006 edition with Germany as hosts. And it seemed even EA Sports couldn't help themselves going the way of fans and the press in taking the opportunity, however belatedly, to indulge in a little nostalgia as they included a few classic moments of tournaments past as unlockable content. These bonus features were earned through collecting points in single player or online modes, alongside what by now had become the standard fare of playing your way through the tournament, a considerable carrot dangled in the process of a few more subtle tweaks to the game itself.

For one, you now had the option of competing in properly organised qualifying tournaments for the part of the world your chosen team hailed from, instead of just jumping straight into the thick of the World Cup itself - though you could do that if you so chose. If you did, your team would find itself playing in the exact same group they found themselves in for the tournament proper, unless you decided to mix it up a bit and randomise proceedings.
And happily there was none of the off-pitch drama FIFA found itself in marring things, as bribery and corruption allegations were made in the wake of Germany's successful bid to host. The whole affair was retrospectively deemed serious enough that the governing body's ethics committee would investigate in 2016.  As early as the previous year though, German news magazine "Spiegel" ran a story contending that bribes were paid to secure Germany the right to host the 2006 World Cup. The money was allegedly channelled via a secret account into which the head of sportswear manufacturer Adidas, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, a friend of Franz Beckenbauer, paid 10.3 million Swiss francs. The German football association, the DFB, vigorously denied the allegation but did acknowledge the existence of a payment of 6.7 million Euros to FIFA. Predictably, the man known as Der Kaiser at the height of his playing days categorically denied money had changed hands in exchange for votes in favour of his country's hosting bid - of which he was president!

By November of 2015 even Angela Merkel was irked enough to say that she fully expected the DFB to clean up the mess they'd made, though Freshfields, the lawyers they brought in as part of the later review of how things went down, issued a statement saying simply that "We have no proof of vote buying."
Although this controversy may have marred memories of the tournament itself, EA Sports official video game remains an enjoyable title to revisit, if not exactly a revolutionary one. Receiving generally favorable reviews when released simultaneously on all major sixth-generation platforms (Game Boy Advance, GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox), as well as Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS and Xbox 360 in April 2006, it was even ported to mobile phones during the tournament itself, representing a new shift toward mobile gaming.

Detroit Free Press gave the Xbox 360 version three stars out of four and stated:
"Thankfully for the folks at Electronic Arts, the only soccer competition available on the Xbox 360 is the previous FIFA game, and this World Cup edition is a step up from that incarnation."
The Times gave the PS2 version a score of four stars out of five and stated that,
"The classic moment section, which features 125 well-known situations, is one of several nice touches in this game."
However, many reviewers commented that the sheer amount of alternative football video games available at the time meant that 2006 FIFA World Cup needed more than just a few "nice touches" to stand out from the crowd. Take this review from the Sydney Morning Herald who called it...
"...a fun football simulation for newcomers and the best FIFA of recent years. Even so, competitor "Pro Evolution" still has the virtual World Cup firmly in its grasp."
It would seem that future EA Sports FIFA releases would need more than just a few tweaks and updates to graphics to continue to be successful...

Bring your vuvuzela with you next time out as we look at Africa's first staging of the jewel in FIFA's crown and the official video game that accompanied the tournament.

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