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FIFA Street
Score: 58%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Canada
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Arcade/ Sports (Soccer)

Graphics & Sound:
In FIFA Street, we finally get to see those guys from FIFA up close, and they don’t look half bad. The textures look great and the animations make them look even sweeter in motion. There are a few wonky bits with the animation when a group of guys gathers around the ball and people start to slide around, but this is easily overlooked. The worst is when the ball magically warps to a player’s foot/knee/head in order to make the play. Though not noticeable that much in the actual gameplay, the replays reveal these blemishes in all their ugliness. The playing fields, though static in a gameplay sense, are graphically dynamic and will appease the onlooker and probably be missed by the player who is caught up in the action.

As per EA Big’s standards, the music is true pop quality. Whether this floats your boat or not isn’t EA’s problem. This is what the current line of games is saturated with, but at least it’s done with full Hollywood style. A top notch soundtrack and quality announcers are featured. The sounds are also “Street” quality; there is no shortage of great effects to accompany the insane tricks and goals that abound in FIFA Street.

If FIFA Street catches on, Rugby Street will not be far behind. This is why people must not buy these games. Their appeal lasts a scant few days. They look great, but they all look the same, and even the looks start to wear on your patience after a while. You can hear the game on the radio if you tune into the right channel. And if you really want to play a street game, go outside and play with your friends; it’s better exercise and a lot more fun.

FIFA Street is all about tricks. Sure the FIFA licensed players are included, there are some spectacular moves, and the replays try to glorify easily gotten goals, but don’t let the flash and pomp fool you. There is nothing more to FIFA Street than tapping a couple of buttons and hoping for a goal.

Where is the skill and style of games like Mutant League Football? How many more trick oriented games will the public be forced to swallow? Screw fancy moves, I want blood. EA would have done better in the long run to create a Mutant League Polo game. The focus here is all about what kinds of tricks you can pull off. Barely any emphasis has been put on goal scoring, as demonstrated by the lobotomized goalies each team has. This is also apparent in the Gamebreaker meter that can be built up with every trick you do. If you and your two other teammates (plus a goalie) sit in your half of the field, you can potentially do every trick in the book, keeping the ball away from the other team, and build up your meter to attain a Gamebreaker shot that is nearly unstoppable.

Enough of the tricks though, how about the game itself? There isn’t much to it. The basic premise is this: three field players and a goalie on one side versus the same on the other. Most games go until one side scores five goals. You can play a couple of Friendlies or create a player and “Take it to the Streets,” as they say. This is where the bulk of the game takes place. When you create your player, you only do his looks; as you progress through the game, you earn points that you can use to increase his skills. There’s a variety of things you can use to customize your player with, and there are plenty of unlockable items that round out a unique looking character.

You can also customize your teammates, right down to the socks they wear. This is one of the few trademarks of these games that thankfully carry over from one title to the next. This is a great way to make your guys feel like they are part of the group, that is, until you unceremoniously replace them with a better player. In Career mode, you have to win trophy cups in different parts of the world. In each part of the world, you can challenge certain players to games. If you win, you get to add them to your squad. Each player is skilled in certain areas, but generally if you get a new player, they will be far better than anything you already have.

Speaking of your teammates, they’re not that smart. The goalies have little part in this game except acting as a wall that occasionally moves. If the ball is at their feet, they like to throw their arms out and wait for a shot. When you’re on a breakaway with a teammate, he tends to run straight in front of you instead of going to a wing for a pass. Also, as a human player, you have a chance to stop the opponent from doing a trick that will send him running past you. Your teammates will never stop a trick on their own. You have to switch control to them at the last second and do it for them.

The simple tricks in FIFA Street are far too easy to do and the difficult ones are too complicated to worry about. Once you learn a handful of useful ones, you’ll never go beyond them. The inadequate opponent A.I. will be hard pressed to stop you from ramming the ball down its throat once you can efficiently perform some useful moves. But, if you find things too difficult, you can always drop the difficulty down a level. Trying to move it up a notch will not be as effective though, as it only seems like the A.I. difficulty is based on the amount of tricks they perform.

Game Mechanics:
FIFA Street is a relatively simple game to control. Compared to other futbol games, it is the basest form of soccer. But if you wanted to play real soccer and not some cheap derivative, you’d buy Winning Eleven, right? Anyway, you deal with what you’ve got, and with FIFA Street it’s not much. Tricks are the name of the game. You have a random trick button which performs a random trick that normally gets you past an opponent. The more tricks you do, the more points you get. The more points you get, the closer you get to a Gamebreaker shot. Gamebreaker shots are nearly unstoppable unless you do them right in front of the goalie, and they add lots more emphasis on doing tricks.

Performing real fancy tricks usually leads to disaster. The control you have over your own players isn’t the most responsive, and at times you will think you’re running with the ball after a great juke when in reality you’re going one way and the ball is going another. The one thing FIFA Street got right was the aiming device used for shooting. When you’re in range of the net, a little picture of a goal comes up in the bottom with a cursor pointing where your shot is aimed. This nifty little thing works better than it sounds, and even real soccer games could benefit from this. Unfortunately, the shooting system is too screwed up for the aim helper to be any good. Every shot has to be something spectacular, so if you’re standing in front of an open net and you take a shot, your guy with the ball will rear back to blast it in the net, giving the opposing team enough time to come and take the ball away.

Many other problems arise in the control scheme when the going gets tough. There are no penalties, so slide tackling a guy on a breakaway is perfectly fine. Trying to get the goalie to pick up a ball that is sitting behind him is futile, and he will normally back up into it and score the opposing goal himself. The Trick Stopper, a single button press to stop your opponent from performing a trick, is more guesswork than anything else, and the Change Player button is the same as the pass button. This is an old problem that the regular FIFA games have, and it makes you either switch a player when you want to pass or vice versa. All of these faults come together in a poorly constructed, good looking game that sort of resembles soccer. You’ll buy this game for all the wrong reasons, but you’ll give it up for all the right ones.

-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

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