It’s actually laughable that Electronic Arts has no less than 3 footballgames lying on the shelves at this time. Besides this brand new one, UEFA Champion’s League 2004-2005 and old faithful FIFA 2005 are also available. That’s enough to make even the most diehard soccer fanatic put down his controller for a while. However, FIFA Street is different from the other two. How different? Do read on.
FIFA Street is just like the other EA Sports Big titles; show and daring moves are just as important as actually winning a game. You play 4 on 4 (3 field players + 1 goalkeeper) on small fields. The constant shift between offense and defence makes the gameplay a lot more intense than previous FIFA episodes. Both sides will have a ton of opportunities. Furthermore you won’t see any referees and commited fouls remain unpunished. All of these changes keep the game pacing very fast.
Unlike FIFA 2005, the controls feel very fluent. The wooden feel of 2k5 (say what you want, but Pro Evolution Soccer is miles ahead in that department) has finally disappeared. Tapping the right analog stick (or pressing L1 + right stick) lets you do the most daring dribbles. If that sounds too difficult for you, you can always press triangle to do a random move. Experienced players should certainly use the right stick, because it earns them a lot more points.
All of those moves are animated exemplary. Even neck-breaking ones like overhead kicks and flying volleys almost look real. Same goes for the fields you play on. They look somewhat drenched in poverty, which fits the urban style setting. Most players are easily recognized, but they don’t look as detailed as in EA’s other titles, but that didn’t bother me too much.
The more tricks you perform in rapid succession (combined with some airplay), the quicker your gamebreaker-bar fills. Once filled, you can unleash a very powerful slow-motion shot on goal, that hits the nets 8 out of 10 times. It looks nice and, even more important, it’s extremely convenient, especially if you consider the fact that most FIFA Street matches end after 5-five scored goals. One of those “cheap” shots can make your chances for succes grow exponentially. The goalkeepers also aren’t easy to beat; they save a lót of shots on goal (you hear that FIFA 2005???) and shooting from a distance is usually a waste of effort. You’ll have to make fluent combinations, otherwise it could take quite a while before the ball goes in.
But of course, the saying “practice makes perfect” also implies here. After some hours you’ll also create exciting combo’s and score very spectacular goals. The Rule the Street mode is very fit for this. First of all, you need to create your own player, customize his looks and give him some skillpoints. You’ll also select seven players to join your team. As was to be expected, you start out with a bunch of clumsy clods that should be out playing golf in stead of football, but as your reputation grows (by earning skill bills) and you win more matches, you’ll unlock better players. You can also use them to improve your player and believe me: you’ll need it. Your teammates start out with stats of 14 to 16 (out of 100!!!), but luckily you’ll quickly unlock players such as Rivaldo (38) or Helguera (55), who at least know how to send a decent pass. The really good players like Raul (90) or Ronaldinho (97) will only become available near the end of the game. The only con I can think of here is the fact that Zinedine Zidane, his royal French highness, the master, the greatest player of the last decade, or God in short, isn’t in the game. However, this flaw is largely compensated by the many great things about Rule the Street.
During the game you’ll be hearing catchy latin music that also fits the urban theme well. The only drawback is that there aren’t a lot of songs in the soundtrack, so you’ll hear the same songs over and over again, which can be kind of annoying. Especially when you compare it to FIFA 2005′s extensive list of songs, Street falls short in that department.
So, is FIFA Street a worthy addition to the neverending FIFA saga? I’d say yes. The refreshing EA Big approach finally gave me the feeling that I was playing a “new” game. The smooth gameplay we’ve experienced in Pro Evo Soccer and earlier FIFA’s (98-2002) is present and that’s a great thing. I’d even say this is the first football game since PES 4 that’s actually worth you hard-earned cash.