More than a decade on, FIFA 06 is simply another edition in the long-running FIFA series. FIFA is a very powerful franchise even though, of late, the actual updates the game features – other than the correct names and extended league information – has become limited. However, FIFA 06 challenged that issue due to one small factor: the PlayStation Portable (PSP).
Having been running for more than 20 years, annual updates became interjected with “special event” releases and eventually, now with well over thirty renditions, a new release or update every few months. 2005’s release followed FIFA 2005’s effort for aggressive on-and-off the ball control and incorporated a brand new tackling, guarding and dribbling system.
The biggest revamp however, was to be the free kick set-up. Going back to the franchises roots, the free kick requires you to stop a power bar in the blue area when shooting for the most accuracy. Push forward on the right analogue stick to increase the trajectory of the shot, pull back to decrease. Lofted shots with a higher trajectory have a slower velocity and are easier to stop, while a lower trajectory will have increased speed and be harder for the goalkeeper to get a hand on, but less likely to clear a defensive wall.
FIFA 06 demanded much more in the way of tactical play. Given the increasing competition, the long-running series traded-in its traditional “anyone can bash the buttons” style for Pro Evolution Soccer’s more calculated approach. It was a time of change, and one which all future editions of the series were to benefit from.
FIFA 06 on the PSP
But why is it that this edition of FIFA is considered such a landmark title? With FIFA 2005, FIFA 06: Road to World Cup and 2006 FIFA World Cup all releasing within the same 12 month period, it was a crowded schedule. Yet, the PSP edition of FIFA 06 was undeniably the most complete handheld FIFA game of its era. Copying the PlayStation 2 edition almost perfectly (bar some significantly longer loading screens) FIFA 06 on PSP was one of the finest handheld iterations of the franchise at the time. And even now, with the Nintendo Switch’s offerings a shadow of the competitor’s versions, FIFA 06 on PSP stands out from the crowd.
Graphically, FIFA 06 on PSP this is the best presentation of a handheld FIFA prior to the Nintendo Switch. Even rivalling that of it’s successor, the PlayStation Vita. The players, for the best part, remain totally distinguishable and the animation is superb. The weather crackles as the rain begins to pour or in the brilliant shine solar glare may interfere with may briefly.
Whether or not this FIFA 06 edition remains your favourite isn’t really the point. There are so many editions now that surely every fan will be able to choose a different favourite. However, the often lukewarm handheld editions of the FIFA franchise result in FIFA 06 still setting a standard that’s seemingly hard to beat. Given that EA has now let go of the rights to FIFA, it may well never be beaten.