Football has always been about teamwork, competition and the fans. Generally any showboating during a game is looked down on; can you imagine the reaction during a premiership match if someone stood juggling the ball to mock the other team? Not only would he be marked for the rest of the game and be the victim of a crunching tackle or two, but the opposition fans would no doubt remember that player forever, making sure any mistake he made in the future would be well and truly rubbed in his face. This is what makes EA’s latest title, FIFA Street, so different. Here it’s all about the tricks and showboating, there’s no time for pleasantries, instead you’re out to win the match in style, if that means humiliating your opponent, then so be it.
You’re out to win the match in style, if that means humiliating your opponent, then so be it.
Given that this latest game in the series is the first for four years, you’d expect to see plenty of changes and thanks to the switch to the FIFA 12 engine, you certainly do. Moving away from the more cartoon-like appearance of previous games for a more realistic look has certainly worked in the game’s favour, as has the fact that it’s been worked on by key members of the FIFA 12 team. All of this makes for a pretty impressive and diverse game, although I still can’t get away from the fact that FIFA Street is how you’d imagine football would be played if the American’s invented it first.
Being a FIFA 12 player, making the move over to FIFA Street is a long, slow process. Despite being run on the same engine, playing the game is completely different in many ways. There is more of an emphasis on style for one, while the tighter arenas and the ability to use the boards to pass and get around your opponents adds a whole new level to the skills needed to succeed. FIFA Street also requires you to beat your opponents with trickery, so knocking the ball through an opponents legs before sticking it into the net will be a regular occurrence. In fact sometimes using the many tricks afforded to your players is the only way to get past an opponent, forget slick passing and looking for space, you’ll be much more successful juggling the ball, knocking it over your opponents head and then scoring on the volley.
Thankfully pulling off tricks in FIFA Street is quite simple, with most assigned to the right stick, which when combined with the shoulder or trigger buttons can help you pull off moves with ease. What you will find is that in World Tour and the online modes, most of the main tricks are locked at first until you gain experience. Leveling up your created players allows you to improve their stats and unlock those aforementioned tricks.
World Tour mode itself is a very impressive part of FIFA Street. You start off creating a player, or if you wish by importing your created player from FIFA 12. Once this is done you are then given the chance to make up the rest of your team by either importing ready-made players or players created by your friends or other people recommended to you by the game. This is brilliant, as potentially this could mean you are setting out on your World Tour with a team full of your friends. Then, once you have chosen your team name, it colours and logo, you’re then able to set out and the tour begins.
At the beginning of the tour your team are unknowns, therefore you’ll start off on a regional tour, playing in the various tournaments on offer, before going off to the main final for that region, trying to do enough to make an impression and get yourself going on a National tour. Once you go national you then have the chance to open up further opportunities such as the European and then World tour.
Each tour you take part in is made up of various events, these consist of the various game types that you will come across in FIFA Street. Each event can be played as Easy (Bronze), Medium (Silver) and Hard (Gold). Whatever difficulty you choose will see you unlock a different piece of equipment or other reward, such as a new stadium, should you be triumphant.
The events are numerous in each of the regional events. Basic events include 4v4 and 5v5 matches, while sometimes this is also mixed up by the game adding in rules such as first team to score 5 goals wins. Other game types are also thrown in, Panna Rules for instance, will see you play out a normal timed match, although the difference here is that you are awarded points for nutmegs (panna’s), air beats and beats. Points earned are banked until you score, although if your opponent scores first you’ll lose your banked points. The winner is the team with the most points at the end of the match. Other game types you’ll come across are Futsal, which is a 5-a-side game played in a stadium environment (there are no walls to bounce the ball off) and also Last Man Standing, which sees you lose a player every time you score a goal, with the aim – you guessed it – to not be the last man standing. There are a few other modes too, such as Freestyle, in which the first to a set amount of style points wins, while tournaments are also thrown in help you to gain the ranking you need to unlock the main finals.
As you play through the World Tour, especially in the latter stages, you’ll notice that you come up against more famous players and some well known clubs, although you’re players will constantly be leveling up and gaining in skill, so there is no need to fear them. Speaking of leveling up, this brings me to one of my gripes with FIFA Street. Practically every time you win a match one of your players will level up, but to me at least, going through a whole team of players, adding to their stats and unlocking new moves is nothing but a big inconvenience. Sure people will love improving their team, but going into each player every time, unlocking the same stats and skills, then waiting for it to save, is just annoying; it not only breaks the flow of the game but it’s also a laborious task and one that seems like it could have been implemented a whole lot better than it has been. It’s hardly a major problem I know, but it’s bad enough that I took time to write about it.
“Not only does FIFA Street looks fantastic, but it also plays a stylish game of football”
One of the most interesting parts of FIFA Street is that the online mode is implemented throughout the game. In World Tour for example, when playing at gold level in a tournament, you can actually play against an online opponent. In addition to this, the game also has own its separate online mode, which sees you take your created team online and play against an opponent. There are three modes online, Play with Friends, which does what it says; Online Team Play, which allows you to take your Captain and play with seven other players and finally Street Season. The latter is actually the main online mode, allowing you to play in a 10 game season with the aim of getting yourself promoted. There are three game types you can play online, these are: 5-a-side, 6-a-side and Futsal. It seems strange that you can’t play Freestyle or Panna Rules matches online, although perhaps they’ll come in the future.
Finally, the game also includes a Hit the Street mode. This basically allows you to play any game style with any team you wish. If you have a friend at home then both of you can play against each other in some good old fashioned one-on-one, team vs team matches.
As far as presentation goes, FIFA Street is a top notch title. The graphics looks fantastic, with each player looking as great as you’d expect. The stadiums are all well designed, the environments varied and the chatter between players seems authentic. Although there is no commentary, this isn’t actually such a bad thing, since EA have managed to implement a soundtrack which seems to fit the experience perfectly.
FIFA Street couldn’t be further removed from the main FIFA series if it tried, however what we have hear is a skillfully crafted game of football that provides something a little different for those out there who prefer to take things a little less seriously. Not only does FIFA Street looks fantastic, but it also plays a stylish game of football, even if your standard referee may not agree with the attire the players are wearing. FIFA Street does have its frustrations but there is no doubt that this is the best game in the series so far.
Rating: ExcellentReview Policy(version tested: PS3)
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