There’s no doubt about it. When playing FIFA Street, I was surprised at how I really got inside the game. For a game full of the process of leveling up so you can play tougher teams, that’s an accomplishment.
EA Sports for PS3, Xbox 360
Replay Value: 8.5
Overall Score: 7.9
Pros: Fun simulation. Great level design makes you want to play more. Jump in for one game or go on World Tour.
Cons: Animations should be more varied. Occasional screen freeze online. Can be very difficult to win.
Here’s how they make FIFA Street a very good game: The developers pay so much attention to detail, you often feel like you’re living the life of an amateur soccer player. For instance, your early games are played in parking lots with very few fans watching as you perform your skills. The lots are dark and kind of dirty. People you can’t see hoot and howl.
And it’s good that you don’t have a huge crowd watching: Your performance isn’t great when you begin your journey to glory in World Tour.
Even at that skill level, you’ll hear a constant banter of appreciation from your teammates. What’s even cooler is that they react to your moves and goals, not only onscreen, but through their words as well. There’s one creepy cackle that never gets old. The experience can feel enthralling as you travel to 35 locations around the world.
MOVING ON UP
Although your level of play is pretty miserable when you start, don’t worry: You’re given some skill points for making a great goal. But that’s not all. Do some cool tricks while moving the ball, and you’ll get points to level up as well. There are 50 dribbling styles and moves that let you show off as you play.
You’ll learn how to goad an opponent into making a crucial wrong move. Once he steps out of position, you’ll have freer rein to score goals. Getting him to run as fast as you run, then stopping in your tracks to move in another direction can leave your opponent confused and in the dust.
I suggest that you start on Easy Mode, and try the tutorials. (You’ll even get an achievement when you check them out.) Once you get up to level 15, switch to Normal Mode for more of a challenge. Hard Mode is terribly difficult, about the hardest of the EA Sports games. Leave it alone unless you feel very confident.
If you’re a beginner and don’t know the terms associated with soccer, you will soon. For instance, “panna” means you knock the ball through the legs of a defender and then continue to move it toward the goal. It’s thrilling for you, but also embarrassing for the other player.
FOR THE WIN
FIFA Street is very addicting, and I have the sore wrists to prove it. Even though the games are very short, you just want to keep going to get better.
You can level up by doing tricks that give you points. Scoring goals after the tricks tallies up points. If the opposing team scores before you do, you lose those points.
But forget the points. You want to win, too. You’ll get a bronze, silver or gold cup at the end of a match to prove your worth. Gold is associated with the hardest mode. But if you play online and win a match, you’ll get a gold cup, no matter what your skill level.
Once you win, you can take a seasoned player from the losing team, if you like. Once you get to the World Stage, you can compete against licensed clubs, too.
EXCITING BUT WITH SOME GLITCHES
Each step of the way, it’s exciting. But it would be more exciting if the animations at the end of a game and match were more varied and looked better.
You can play with a group, too. Offline, you can play with four friends (seven, if you have the PS3 version). Online, you can play with up to eight pals. Playing over a broadband connection, I found there were only occasional lag times during a match. Yet the game did freeze once, which is really unacceptable.
FIFA Street features an online pass with a code that works for you alone. You have to enter the code before you can go online. It’s a pain to add the code, even though it takes just a few minutes. There has to be a better way to do this. Companies are implementing this pass system to try to prevent you from reselling your games. They figure if there’s no online access, people might not buy the game you want to sell when you’re done.
One of the problems I saw with FIFA Street is the angle you’re presented as you play. Since it’s from above, you don’t see the goal straight on. That makes for some cringe-filled near misses, especially before you reach Level 10. You’re better served by the End to End camera, which looks from one goal to the other. Change it in the options menu.
The customization aspect lets you add details to your avatar. But I wish you could just add a face and body photo via Kinect. That would be easier and save time.
Finally, I’m not sure I care much about the outfits and shoes you unlock for playing well. I’m not concerned about what I look like on the field – as long as I do well on it.
Overall, the FIFA Street experience is a very good one. Hopefully, they’ll work out some of the problems so that next year the experience will be totally excellent.