FIFA Street Review
FIFA Street is four-on-four soccer with three players in the field and one goalie. Most of the matches don't 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 aren't that many players on the pitch and it is surrounded by walls that keep the ball in play. The triangle button performs "beat" moves which is a hip way of saying "juke" I'd 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 it's always the CPU that does the blocking when you're up big. Hopefully you get the controls down on your own because the game's training mode is an absolute joke. It's non-interactive, and the narrator not only has an accent making him tough to understand, but he speaks so fast that it's impossible to get all the information in one viewing.
In the "rule the street" mode, which is where a bulk of the gameplay takes place, you'll 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 it's 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 "skill bills" that allow you to boost your attributes. The rest of your team can be improved by earning players off of vanquished teams. You don't 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 aren't 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 there's 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 there's 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 you're behind the play and the move isn't even designed to fake you out. It's 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 can't 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 wouldn't have a problem pulling the plug. They don't 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 you're down in your own area, and they will kick the ball right into one of your players, so it's not like they don't do anything - it's just that they don't do anything right.
FIFA Street's visuals have several appealing aspects, but there are several problems to point out as well. The player models look nice, but they aren't very detailed and can't hold a candle to NBA Street's players. The animations for tricks and shots are nice, but there isn't a whole lot of variety, they don't transition from one move to the next very well, and they are too long. The create-a-player also isn't 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 don't, 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 doesn't 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 you're playing in a real place.
Let's get this out of the way first - the announcer is simply awful. This really isn't a big shock if you've played any of the street games, but this new guy is simply mind-numbing. There's no chatter between players, and no crowd noise, so the only thing you'll get to hear is the awful yelling of the commentator and the game's music.
The soundtrack has an international flavor and features artists from all over the world. It's 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 aren't that great, but there are several good songs, and it's a nice change from what EA usually forces people to listen to.
There's a solid base for a franchise in FIFA Street, but it's buried under several layers of crap, so you're not likely to have much fun with it. There's no question that this title was rushed out the door, and it's appalling that anyone would be expected to pay $50 for a clearly unfinished game. There's 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