The FIFA soccer franchise has a long and illustrious history. Year after year, EA trots out their soccer (“football” everywhere but here in North America) sim, and the gaming public eats it up, making the FIFA games a persistent worldwide best-seller. EA Canada, located in Burnaby, British Columbia, has developed the latest iteration in the FIFA Street branch of the soccer franchise. The original FIFA Street was released in 2005 for the Xbox, Playstation 2, and the Nintendo Gamecube, and subsequently, FIFA Street 2 and 3. In seven short years, the developer has refined the experience of street soccer in more ways than one with the reboot - and reawakening - of the franchise, simply calling the latest game “FIFA Street”, released for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. I had the chance to take the 360 version for a spin, so read on!
Announced at Gamescom in Germany on August 16th, 2011, FIFA Street offers a near-perfect representation of what it feels like to play in a real street soccer match. There are four game modes: “World Tour” allows gamers to create their own soccer player, from the name, right down to what type of socks to wear. This mode lets you take your athlete around the world, playing in tournaments, scout players from other teams, and have them join your team as you progress. Games feature one-on-one, five vs. five, or six vs. six; “Panna” is a one vs one game mode in which the player has to dribble the ball through the opponent’s legs and retrieve it on the other side before the opponent does; “Futsal” is a game mode with two teams of five, including the goalkeeper, which is played on a hard indoor surface and a heavier ball; and there is the requisite “Practice” mode, a tutorial which is essential in order to experience full enjoyment of the game.
"The single-player experience is deep enough to keep gamers coming back, and the online experience is as smooth as silk."
FIFA Street is built with the FIFA 12 engine, and it shows. Gone are the somewhat cartoonish graphics and tricks from the games of the past, in favor of a more realistic feel and look. The player models are detailed and the players’ voices come out crystal-clear when talking trash or shouting at one another. The venues are beautiful, as well, and it’s a treat to visit even the plainest of inner-city school concrete courts. Every nuance and movement of the athletes is painstakingly precise, and one can tell that a lot of time and passion went into ensuring that the game’s authenticity stayed at the forefront. With double the ball tricks than those featured in FIFA 12, FIFA Street is a good blend between simulation and arcade-style gameplay.
Considering we are talking about two completely different sports, the controls in FIFA Street are strikingly similar to the just-released snowboarding game SSX (also by EA, check out our review here). The triggers and right analog stick are the centerpieces once again. Through a combination of triggers and sticks, a flurry of tricks and dekes can be performed while in play, and experience points are rewarded when the player successfully gets by an opponent after one of said tricks. As you level up your athlete, more clothing unlocks which, quite frankly, is getting a little tiresome nowadays. The “levelling-up” system could use some sort of a boost or upheaval in sports games. With regards to the tricks, though, it’s quite satisfying to pull off a cool deke or foot-to-head ball trick, but it doesn’t come without quite a bit of practice. The sheer number of tricks available (upwards of sixty) is quite daunting for a first-time FIFA gamer. For a novice, it could take ten or twelves play sessions before a level of comfort is achieved with the controls, but in the end it is well worth the time spent. When all is said and done, the controls are what drives this version of FIFA Street to its success. With enough patience, FIFA fans can become Thumb Virtuosos with those analog sticks.
FIFA Street is playable in multiplayer, both on- and offline. Online multiplayer uses the same social network system as that which was introduced in FIFA 12, called EA Sports Football Club. Activities are awarded XP for one profile, across both FIFA games, and can be carried between them. The system features both Friends and Worldwide leaderboards. Another useful, if not unoriginal, feature is the Street Network. This allows gamers to capture and upload videos of gameplay footage to a server, in order to show off to friends, or to save for viewing at a later date. This feature goes by other names across other EA sports titles, so there really is nothing unique about it here.
The online multiplayer includes head-to-head online seasons where gamers can take their created teams from the World Tour mode and pit them against other teams from anywhere in the world. The Season mode is incredibly deep, keeping enough stats to satisfy everyone. As you level up your team, you earn points towards getting promoted to higher-level tournaments. Conversely, perform poorly, and you can get relegated to pity matches. The Season mode is certainly one of the highlights of the game, and it will keep the community buzzing for months and months to come. A negative to online play is the fact that league teams are not playable. Licensing issues come into play here.
FIFA Street includes real-world players from six soccer leagues from all over the world, including MLS (Toronto can be found here), and twenty national teams as well, adding to the game’s authenticity. Once World Tour stages 3 and 4 are reached, there are special unlockable teams that become available. All-stars and street teams of differing abilities give gamers something to shoot for.
The soundtrack for FIFA street is one for the plus column. The music lends to the multicultural atmosphere of “the Beautiful Game”, featuring artists from Africa, Europe, Australia and North America. All of the tracks are upbeat and fit in perfectly with the wizardry and elegance of the gameplay.
Given the fact that leagues and national teams are included in FIFA Street, the edge is given to this game over FIFA 12 in the “fun” column. The single-player experience is deep enough to keep gamers coming back, and the online experience is as smooth as silk. Real teams, with real players, and a plethora of fancy tricks and player moves...once gamers get used to the controls and gameplay, FIFA Street turns out to be a rock-solid experience. With a little bit of gamer elbow grease, a fun game awaits.
Release date : 2012-03-10
Publisher : EA Sports
Developer : EA Canada
Gameplay : Sports
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