An hour alone with SS2006 is a bit like listening to a Jamiroquai album: you've heard it all before, but in an infinitely more preferable guise. We're thinking of early Stevie Wonder, of course. The solo mode will destroy the soul of a weak man. Game after game revealed itself to be just like the one before (difficult second Jamiroquai album track syndrome?).
AI from the opposing team was hugely frustrating. Sensi was never the easiest of games to master, but real dedication to the cause would bring its rewards. SS2006 is relentless, even if you - the solo player - select the highly-rated Brazil as your team, and go up against Togo for example. Videogame Brazil teams are not to be trifled with, and you'd think they'd be way too much for the likes of Togo, but no. Even the fluid passing - passing is super-important in SS2006 - is interrupted by the lightning-fast, big-headed African minnows.
And it's not just Togo that behaves like this: select Togo as the player team, Brazil as your opponent, and it's pretty much the same deal. Further investigation of similarly-rated teams in the game revealed that there's a negligible difference in the gameplay skills of England and say, Ghana. Who knows, some punters may enjoy this prospect of a more level playing field, but us? Pah!
On a more positive note, shooting on goal - not easy at first, let us tell you - ignites some memories of the early 90s that don't include grungey guitar music and wondering who killed Laura Palmer. Of course, the PS2 pad is a totally different beast with which to apply some after-touch. Once you get the hang of it (and your man's arrow is pointing in something like the right direction) it can result in some unlikely goals. In common with Sensi of old however, the goalkeepers are a stout bunch on the whole, and sometimes hard to beat. Tackling the opposing players can be a hazardous job, as sliding challenges often end in your man getting carded. You can get the ball by fairer, gentler means, just by blocking the opposing player while they're still in possession of the ball, but where's the fun in that? To paraphrase, 'I play, therefore I lunge'
Where SS2006 stirs into life is when one stops playing with oneself and gets busy with a partner. At this point, you may like to note that your author couldn't persuade any more than one nephew to get involved in experimenting with the multiplayer aspects of SS2006, and the one that did take part was more interested in when we'd be playing that bloody EA Sports football game mentioned earlier.
From this incestuous-sounding union came a brief spurt of enjoyment: near-misses, more cards dished out than a postie at Christmas, verbal abuse between the sofa-dwelling uncle and Brother Bob's bean-bag-bound bastard offspring. It was all good fun until the part when the apocryphal Jamiroquai CD would have reached track seven or eight, and we realised that two-player mode is essentially two single players playing the same game at the same time. Oh dear, double the despondency. It all went a bit Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for a few seconds until Player Two exclaimed, "Put FIFA on!"
SPOnG score: C
SS2006 is that occasional thing in the sometimes incredibly strange world of video games... a game that makes you want to play another game from the same genre just so's you can reassure yourself that you still feel something for the blimmin' genre! Hoping to recreate some of that three-button magic from the early 1990s, all we got was a largely unrecognisable game with a familiar name on the cover. Yes, it looks okay - bright, vibrant colours; the characters in close-up faintly resemble the real thing; and the action takes place from a similar angle, though crucially not from the top-down perspective which bitter old vets like this author were hoping for. Sensible Soccer 2006 is a huge disappointment and an embarrassing own goal for a name that means such a lot to many 30-somethings. Booed off the pitch, Brian.