FIFA Street Review: A Winning Goal

Right around the beginning of the year 2000, EA Sports set out on a journey to create engaging Arcade spinoffs of some of their most popular licensed sports franchises. The end result was the creation of a brand that lasted for almost a decade, known to many as EA Sports BIG. Memorable franchises such as Def Jam Vendetta, NBA Street, FIFA Street, SSX, and NFL Street succeeded in bridging the gap between hardcore simulations and casual quick pick up and play titles.

Now several years later, EA Sports is rebooting some of these games to cater to both old and new audiences alike. FIFA Street is an exceptional reboot that adds style and substance to a sport that many have known to come and love. Here are a few reasons why this game should be on your must have list.

The award-winning FIFA series continues to impress every year due largely in part to the hard work of the team over at EA Canada. To maintain a sense of authenticity and gameplay aesthetics, that same group signed aboard this project. While the game controls aren’t drastically different from FIFA 12, it’s worth noting that there is still a deep learning curve involved in mastering techniques.

The controls are split up into one of the following two categories: Fundamental Moves, and Special Tricks. Basic moves like shooting, sprinting, and juggling are good examples of fundamental moves. There is also a new feature called Street Ball Control that allows you to perform responsive dribble moves to bait and escape defenders seamlessly. The successful execution of special tricks depends on a player’s attributes and skill level rating.

Typically, stringing together a combination of moves nets you style points that are then reflected in your overall abilities. The more you play and improve, the more you’ll be rewarded with new special tricks to perform. The one setback that may frustrate people about this is that there aren’t detailed tutorials that dive into each special trick. However, there is a practice arena option and brief video tutorials that cover the basics and can be accessed at the pre match setup screen. The four main modes that serve as the framework for the FIFA Street experience are as followed: Hit The Streets, World Tour, Xbox Live, and My Squad.

Hit The Streets contains a series of match types designed to get you into the action immediately. The lineup includes 5-A-Slide, Panna Rules, Futsal, Last Man Standing, and Custom Match. 5-A-Slide are generic 5 on 5 matches where you can play either against the computer or another player locally in two 3-minute halfs. Panna Rules is a point-based matchup in which you score the most points by pulling off panna moves.

Futsal are matchups that take place inside stadiums and force you to be more strategic in a much more restrictive environment. Last Man Standing is a match type where scoring goals eliminates people from your team until you are the last one eliminated. Lastly, you have the ability to create custom matches to suit your taste. Most of the modes described allow up to 4 players locally based upon the varying game rules.

World Tour is essentially the centerpiece of FIFA Street. Within this mode, you create your own player and build up a squad of 10 players to help you conquer the world. You travel to many different locales including the likes of Brazil, London, and New York City. For every match that your team wins, each member is awarded style points, and improved attributes.

Different types of attire are also unlockable based upon the difficulty setting you choose to play on. For every 3 challenges that you win, you’re granted the opportunity to add a previous opponent to your team. The My Squad mode is complimentary to this mode because it acts as the official hub to edit your team members, and player performance upgrades as you receive them.

The Xbox Live feature is the standard option to play FIFA Street online against others. Players can participate in 10 game street seasons where division rankings skyrocket or plummet based on how well their teams perform. Online Team Play allows you to use your created player on a five-player squad and participate in competitive matchups.

The only setback with these features are that you’re restricted to only using created players instead of the professional athletes that are represented in the game. Having the ability to mix and match custom players with real-life athletes was one of the aspects that made NBA Street fun and immersive. Perhaps in the future games these ideas can be elaborated on further so as to provide a little more variety to the series.

FIFA Street is an addictive title that dares to be different and adds further charisma to an already exciting sport. The dedication and hard work of the team over at EA Canada sets the standard for exactly how an arcade style FIFA game should be done. While some areas of both customization and tutorials may be on the slim side, it’s not enough to dismiss this game altogether. In closing, if you’re a diehard fan of FIFA do yourself a favor and check this game out.

This review was based on a retail copy of the game for the Xbox 360 provided by EA Sports.

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