Review: FIFA Street (Xbox 360)
Back to Planet Earth now for a reboot of an old, familiar franchise. FIFA Street was a familiar name through the mid-to-late part of the noughties, with appearances on the Gamecube, Xbox (original) and PS2.
Now, EA has built a new game for the next-gen consoles, with a view to giving the crucial FIFA franchise a shot in the arm and a breath of fresh air.
It certainly is different to other football games. FIFA Street has an unusual and varied selection of modes and a huge wealth of techniques to be mastered.
The game types range from five-a-side, with or without walls, to Panna – a two on two game with tiny goals which can be scored conventionally, but the real fun comes from gaining points for pulling off tricks.
And it’s all about the precision of the controls – using the sticks and buttons, it is possible to control exactly what your player’s leg is doing with the ball – you can move it inches to the left, right, forward or behind to juuust frustrate your opponent and evade their grasp.
Then you can humiliate them by standing on the ball for a second, chipping the ball into the air, around your back, over your head and many many other techniques.
This mechanic wouldn’t stand up if the controls didn’t allow for such precise, measured amounts of ball movement – more often in the air than on the ground – and I’m happy to report that it works.
It’s a different type of challenge to regular football games, for a different type of player, in fact it was this unusual mix of elements that attracted me to it.
There are many top tier teams from all over the world to play as, including the England squad and the whole Barclays Premiership, as well as top US teams such as LA Galaxy… are they a top team? I don’t know.
I don’t know much about football at all in fact – and this game was far more accessible to me than the regular FIFA games, because it is not a strait-laced, conventional football sim. I like it all the more for this.
The real fun comes from creating a player of your own. I created a player that looked as close to me as possible (far more fit though), I created my team “The Sea Dogs” (look us up on MW3 – TheSeaDogs), designed a suitably nautical club crest and started the game properly.
I chose London as my player’s home town. Firstly, my virtual phone received a text – some friends wanted a friendly match – 5-a-side on some concrete football ground beneath a flyover. I almost won it...
When playing 5-a-side, the feeling is to play a bit more like a conventional football game, albeit with a smaller, different looking pitch.
If it is a conventional 5-a-side game, you can use the walls deliberately to set up rebound shots, like a huge game of pool. It is possible to use the tricks and acrobatics but for purely tactical reasons – there are no points bonuses for tricks in this mode.
After this game I was invited to play in a London tournament – with rounds in Enfield, Croydon and Hounslow. So I chose Hounslow as my next virtual destination, where there was a Panna game to play. Again – it was two on two with tiny goal nets. At first my instinct was to play this game conventionally too – racking up a few goals, despite the small goal mouths. But as the game went on, my confidence grew and I started to try a few moves and tricks… The emphasis and the balance of the game changed.
Of all the games it could remind me of – it reminds me of the Project Gotham Racing series. They are pretty accurate simulation games, with a lot of real tracks accurately recreated, detailed car handling physics and fully accurate cars. You can play them as a serious race game if you like. But they have the Kudos system, where you can gain extra points for long drifts, high top speeds, aggressive overtakes etc. So to a degree, you can play the game how you like – you can drive seriously or aim for mega high-scoring tricks. FIFA Street now feels like its football equivalent.
The graphics are detailed and fluid. They show body movement in all the detail necessary for the fine control of each leg position that is needed. A lot of famous footballers are accurately recreated – the ones that I recognise anyway. Crowds shout encouragement while you play in regional accents – estuary English has been very well integrated into the game!
There is also a very competent multiplayer mode. Now this reminds me of playing Street Fighter IV – take some time to learn every button combo, every move and tactic so you can take people on and battle at high levels. As usual no quarter is asked for or given. Playing 5-a-side with nine other people is an enjoyable challenge and everything ticks along smoothly without lag or interruption.
So it’s an interesting little game. It appeals to me more than the mainstream FIFA games precisely because it is a bit different. But there is a lot of familiar content as well as the innovation in this game. It’s worth a look, particularly if you appreciate football skillshots, or like to play 5-a-side after work!
FIFA Street is out on March 16th for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.