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FIFA Street
Graphics: 7
Gameplay: 6.4
Sound: 5.5
Control: 3.9
Replay Value: 6.5
Rating: 6.3
Hoops fans just got their fix of street balliní with the recently released NBA Street Vol. 3, and now just a short time later, Soccer fans can get their game on with FIFA Street. If you havenít figured it out, FIFA Street is Ea Bigís take on street soccer mixed with all the gamebreakers and over-the-top tricks youíd expect to find in one of their ďstreetĒ games. Unfortunately one ingredient that is missing is polish, since there is absolutely none to be found in this game. It does have its moments when itís fun, but the unresponsive controls, horrible AI, lack of online support, and a bevy of other issues point to a title that was rushed out the door.

FIFA Street is four-on-four soccer with three players in the field and one goalie. Most of the matches donít have a time limit and are played to 5 goals, but there are matches that have the traditional time limits of regular soccer. The game feels like indoor soccer since there arenít that many players on the pitch and it is surrounded by walls that keep the ball in play. The triangle button performs ďbeatĒ moves which is a hip way of saying ďjukeĒ Iíd suppose. These are random when you use the triangle button, but flicking the analog stick in specific directions will perform the same move every time. You can combine the moves with the L1 button, and pull off fancier moves as well. When you fill your gamebreaker meter, pressing L1 and the circle button simultaneously will activate the gamebreaker and your player will rip a huge shot towards the goal. The variety of shots is nowhere near what you find in NBA Street, and they can be blocked quite often which is obnoxious because itís always the CPU that does the blocking when youíre up big. Hopefully you get the controls down on your own because the gameís training mode is an absolute joke. Itís non-interactive, and the narrator not only has an accent making him tough to understand, but he speaks so fast that itís impossible to get all the information in one viewing.

In the ďrule the streetĒ mode, which is where a bulk of the gameplay takes place, youíll have one created player on your team, and three players that are either real or made up default characters. The game features over 250 real players, which might not seem like much compared to FIFA 2005, but itís on-par with the other street games, and is more than adequate. Your player will stink initially but winning games will earn you the horribly named ďskill billsĒ that allow you to boost your attributes. The rest of your team can be improved by earning players off of vanquished teams. You donít earn players in the kick about mode (only skill bills), but when you take on teams led by real stars you can swap them for one of your lesser skilled players after the match. Despite the fact that rule the street offers many hours of gameplay, it gets repetitive after just a few hours, since the three different matches you can play all feature the exact same gameplay, with only varying rewards to distinguish one from the next.

The lack of variety is just one of the many things that points to this title being rushed out the door. The gameplay is repetitive because there arenít that many moves, and simply running down the field, juking once or twice and then firing off a shot works all too well. Defense involves little more than slide tacking, and thereís absolutely no strategy involved. Perhaps allowing you to cancel a gamebreaker shot while on defense would be a neat feature to add next year, since thereís no incentive to play any defense when the other team has a gamebreaker, since they will eventually score.

The controls are horribly unresponsive, players will run away from the ball, stop every time they get a pass, and the computer actually takes control away from you if you are the closest person to a player performing a beat move. This happens even when youíre behind the play and the move isnít even designed to fake you out. Itís frustrating because the AI is so bad that your only hope of stopping a play is to chase down the ball because nobody else will do it. Other problems include: funky ball physics, you canít do much with rebounds, one-timers are slow to develop, the computer will let you fill your combo meter with at least four tricks before deciding to pressure you on your own half of the field, and slide tackles are just plain broken.

Play down by the goal is simply appalling as the goalies are so brain dead that even Jeb Bush wouldnít have a problem pulling the plug. They donít come up out to stop breakaways, and will just stand there waiting for a shot as you dance all around the penalty area. They do spring to life to occasionally to do annoying things like breaking up one of your passes when youíre down in your own area, and they will kick the ball right into one of your players, so itís not like they donít do anything Ė itís just that they donít do anything right.

FIFA Streetís visuals have several appealing aspects, but there are several problems to point out as well. The player models look nice, but they arenít very detailed and canít hold a candle to NBA Streetís players. The animations for tricks and shots are nice, but there isnít a whole lot of variety, they donít transition from one move to the next very well, and they are too long. The create-a-player also isnít very deep, and not being able to put your team logo on licensed apparel is yet another way of EA selling out to product placement. Who cares if I can wear a licensed shirt in your game? I donít, so let me put my shark logo on my shirt and be done with it.

There are plenty of places to play a match, and the locales are from all over the world. Marseille, NYC, Rio De Janeiro, Lagos, Amsterdam, Rome, Berlin, Mexico City, Barcelona, and London are the available cities, but it will take a while before you can unlock them all. The fields each feature a unique theme, but the game doesnít take advantage of the different fields in any way. They are also strangely devoid of life with no animated spectators, or anything else giving the idea youíre playing in a real place.

Letís get this out of the way first Ė the announcer is simply awful. This really isnít a big shock if youíve played any of the street games, but this new guy is simply mind-numbing. Thereís no chatter between players, and no crowd noise, so the only thing youíll get to hear is the awful yelling of the commentator and the gameís music.

The soundtrack has an international flavor and features artists from all over the world. Itís best described as world music with a hip-hop/dance flavor. A few of the artists include Max Sedgley w/Moby, Dizzee Rascal, Sur Choc, Crooked Stilo, Ozomati, Shimano, but there are many more. Some of the songs arenít that great, but there are several good songs, and itís a nice change from what EA usually forces people to listen to.

Thereís a solid base for a franchise in FIFA Street, but itís buried under several layers of crap, so youíre not likely to have much fun with it. Thereís no question that this title was rushed out the door, and itís appalling that anyone would be expected to pay $50 for a clearly unfinished game. Thereís no point in buying this game; just wait for the sequel that will surely feature online play, more game modes, and better controls.


3/18/2005   Aaron Thomas