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Platforms: Xbox, PS2 & PC - Xbox version reviewed.
Thirtysomething men, pay attention: your world is about to start making sense again. Remember the days of your youth? The Commodore Amiga and the Sega Megadrive? The wasted hours playing having a ‘quick spot of Sensi’ against your mates? Well, it’s time to turn back the clock. It might be running on fairly recent hardware, but Sensible Soccer 2006 makes 1992 feel like yesterday, then reminds you that sometimes yesterday is actually more appealing than tomorrow.
It’s not just the nostalgia factor at work. Sensi 2006 also plays well to a crowd that has grown tired of the current obsession with realism, both photo- and otherwise. In fact, it’s almost easier to list what the game doesn’t do rather than what it does do – it’s the most reactionary game I’ve played since Namco’s absurdly backwards-looking Ridge Racer 6.
For a start, Sensi 2006 doesn’t go in for FIFA-style razzle-dazzle. Not one bit. The front-end is almost functional to a fault – I had to blink to make sure I wasn’t sitting in front of a 16-bit console – but it gets you quickly to where you want to go: the teams; the tournaments; the options. As a result, you can be playing in the World Cup within a minute of the game loading. Can you say that about FIFA World Cup 2006? Nope. By the time Sensi has sounded the starting whistle, you’d be lucky to have hit the ludicrously complex setup menu.
Nor are you faced with minutes of arty shots of stadiums or scenes of the team warming up before kick-off. Sensi hits you with a quick pan across the line-up, and you’re off. And it’s at this point that you might notice that photorealism is definitely not Sensi’s bag. Instead, we have stupid, colourful cel-shaded cartoon graphics featuring men with oversized heads, awful haircuts and comical facial hair. What’s more, while the game’s teams are not licensed, it’s easy to see a resemblance between a certain W. Riiney or T. Hanry and similarly-monikered distinguished footballers. I guess Sensi doesn’t even really try to wow you with complex shaders or accurate depictions; it just wants to make you laugh instead.