- Street Date:
- March 13th, 2012
- Reviewed by:
- Chad Goodmurphy
- Review Date:1
- April 22nd, 2012
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox 360
- Electronic Arts
- EA Canada
- ESRB Rating:
- E (Everyone)
Going by both soccer and football, the beautiful game is humanity’s favourite sport. Played on just about every landmass on our planet, it draws record numbers of spectators and their passion is well documented. Not surprisingly, many video game releases have featured the cleat and ball game, with Electronic Arts’ FIFA franchise being the most popular of all.
For years, arcade sports games have meant good business when they’re done right. Midway capitalized on that knowledge in the 90s and Electronic Arts has picked up the proverbial torch with revamps of the now bankrupt company’s intellectual properties like NFL Blitz. However, EA has also created its own over-the-top versions of different sports, including FIFA Street, which just received its fourth iteration.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Unlike many of the sub-genre’s releases, as well as its predecessors, this year’s NFL Street revamp isn’t very over-the-top. Instead, it’s more of a stylistic version of the main series, using mid-sized courts and indoor arenas instead of gigantic stadiums. Walls are in play most of the time, and showing off to the crowd can be worth more than a goal during certain challenges. The key is to practice in order to steadily improve the created players who make up your uniquely designed team.
At the core of the game is World Tour mode, a lengthy trip around the globe that will take quite a few hours to complete. Its six-minute long games are culled from several different types: Futsal, Panna Rules, Last Man Standing, Freestyle, Four-On-Four and Five-On-Five. The last two are pretty straight forward, and traditional, although the inclusion of walls makes things interesting. However, the others need more explaining than that.
Futsal: Think of this variation as indoor soccer, because that’s pretty much what it is. You’re playing on a court that happens to have lines indicating bounds. If the ball goes out, then someone gets a chance to kick it in. Throw-ins have been removed in favour of the aforementioned kick-ins, which work just as well. Free kicks will also be given to those who are fouled, with a shown limit that most players will never reach.
Panna Rules: With FIFA Street comes a focus on tricking. Being the most stylish team out on the court is important in this two-on-two mode, because pulled off tricks equate to bankable points. Those are officially added to the player’s overall score when a goal is scored, but opponents can negate your tally by scoring on you. The right joystick is used to complete said tricks, but they need to be purchased through the character upgrade menu.
Last Man Standing: Within this variation, the two teams compete against each other as three man units. The objective is to score one goal with each member of your team before the opposition does so. Whenever a goal is scored, the specific player who completed the task leaves the game for good. The win ends up going to the team that doesn’t have any members left.
Freestyle: This is another mode that focuses on tricks. Special moves always equate to points, but freestyle events are the only time where they actually factor into the decision as to which team will win each match. Beating opponents with style will bank points, which can be cemented by scoring a goal. In the end, the victor is the first one to 2500.
After World Tour is selected from the game’s main menu, where it features alongside one-off exhibition options and a link to online action, one must create a team. Players take the longest to make through the use of a decent character customization feature that avoids sliders by using premade assets. You’re going to want to make quite a few (upwards of eight,) in order to get a full team. Keep in mind that only five men can play in one game, so the rest may not be necessary. That is unless you like to mix and match.
The reason why so many slots are provided is that each player can be selectively upgraded. There’s a leveling system that goes from 1-50, and each level up brings with it a certain amount of points. Those can go towards different categories like defense, dribbling, athleticism, shooting, passing and goalkeeping. Each one has 15 slots, and they become progressively more expensive along the way. This allows for specializations to be created, so you can have power finishers, playmakers, brick wall defenders and the like.
In addition to staffing their team with potential superstars, gamers must also create the organization itself. Dealing with finances and coaches isn’t required, so the only things you’ll need to worry about are picking a name, primary colours, jerseys, street wear and a logo. A basic image creation system has been implemented for the latter requirement, but you’re dealing with preset features once again. Still, some decent-looking logos can be created.
Once that minutia has been put to bed, it’s time to choose a starting nation. The usual suspects are provided, and the choice is detrimental in figuring out the type of competition you’ll encounter at certain points. I picked Spain, which allowed me to go up against cover athlete Messi in one of the many one-off street challenges that showed up on the world map.
The above-mentioned starting area ends up being your first stomping ground en route to a final tournament against the cream of the crop. That ascension is broken up into four levels, going from regionals to nationals and so on. Each stage has its own final tournament, but teams must win others first, in order to earn a top 8 rank.
Regardless of which match type is involved, FIFA Street is consistent. As the game’s primary campaign, World Tour happens to be a culmination of every one of its other offline options. The gameplay is always methodical and full of steals, but it’s surprisingly realistic for a series of this ilk. Gone are the over-the-top moves and animations. Those are replaced by more realistic designs, creating gameplay that is slower paced and more lifelike. Their associated mechanics work quite well, but there’s a noticeable lack of personality to be found. The result is a decent representation of arcade soccer, but one that gets dull during lengthy sessions because it lacks a wow factor.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Featuring a road show that makes stops in visually renowned cities like Dubai, Paris, New York and Amsterdam, FIFA Street’s World Tour mode is a visceral treat. Each region’s culture is represented in its court, as well as its quick opening cinematic. Highlights include an eight-bit Parisian court and a floating tile masterpiece that can be found in a digital representation of Venice. If the ball goes out of bounds, it’s destined to meet either a stone bridge or a great amount of water.
It’s the courts that really make the action pop. They’re so great-looking that it’s hard to get bored of seeing the same one over and over again throughout the course of a six game tourney. In fact, these are some of the best sports game locations that I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, the players’ animations aren’t as impressive, with some rather forgettable ones amidst others which look good but not great. You’ll have to forgive running animations that repeatedly stop and then start again mid-dash.
The inclusion of popular European club teams, Major League Soccer organizations and international teams makes well-known players available. They will act as competition during later stages of World Tour mode, but can only be taken for use when they’re defeated in a street challenge. It’s nice that superstars can be added, but the game’s achievement list counteracts that by offering awards for leveling up eight created stars. If you become good at that, those team members will end up being better than the million-dollar celebrities. Granted, they do look pretty good.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
FIFA Street doesn’t have any memorable audio elements. The basic sounds it does offer are very ho-hum, uninspired and utterly forgettable. Minimal chatter can be heard during matches, as the game generally rests on its laurels by using music to keep armchair athletes engaged. That mixture of electronica and hip-hop fits in well, and sounds quite good, but the same songs are repeated ad nauseum. It’s hard to fault their fidelity, however.
One nice touch was the inclusion of international announcers. While playing in Japan, the showcased arena’s announcer will speak in his native tongue. The same occurs in every other hotspot, meaning that you’ll get a bit of an education as you play. Those voice over actors count down the last 10 seconds in each half, announce goal totals and declare a winner. Other than those occurrences, their voices aren’t used very often, which is a shame.
The sports video game genre is great at providing replay value through most of its releases. FIFA Street has a lengthy campaign mode, in addition to ten game online seasons and online team play with several other users. However, it lacks the personality required to keep players coming back once all is said and done. If some sort of a wow factor had been implemented, this game would be a lot more fun to revisit. Though, as it stands, it’s simply a title that is best served by short burst sessions and friendly challenges, as the game is at its best during online play. Uneven difficulty levels and artificial intelligence opponents of varying levels of competency will be the prize found by those who only play offline.
Despite the above-mentioned issues, this is still a sports game. What that means is that fans will find reason to come back, whether it’s to play against friends, learn new tricks or earn achievements. The unlockable list of achievement/trophy-awarding objectives found on this disc is quite accessible. They’re all straightforward, with the only really challenging ones requiring online tournament victories. Those aforementioned World Tour championship tournaments can be played against human players, and EA is planning to host occasional online tournaments.
What’s good about soccer games is how widespread their appeal is. It’s easy to come across gamers from various European regions, but be warned that they’re highly skilled. Electronic Arts’ FIFA Street servers did a good job of handling most of my long-distance competitions with only minimal lag factoring in. However, there were times where the game froze or completely glitched out, forcing both of us to quit back to the console’s dashboard.
In the end, FIFA Street is a decent game that could have been a lot better. I can’t help but feel that EA Canada missed its mark with this one, although they still delivered a relatively enjoyable experience. Those who were expecting something pulse pounding and incredibly unique won’t find that here, but hardcore footie fans will find a mild amount of enjoyment from this release. Casual fans will want to rent or borrow it instead of making a $60 purchase, because they’ll probably get bored after a week or so.
- DVD Disc
- Dolby Digital 5.1
- Online Co-op
- Online Versus
- Offline Co-op
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