Sunday, April 1, 2012

FIFA Street Review


Unlike so many people who flock to the annual FIFA iteration every year, I like to have a different experience once in a while. That is probably why I enjoyed the FIFA, NBA and NFL Street series back in the last console generation and was sad to see them die off after mediocre outings at the start of this generation. While NBA Street hasn't been seen since Homecourt, this promising rehash of FIFA Street may warrant another attempt at the series because this is a brilliant overhaul of the Street approach. FIFA Street was previously about unrealistic tricks and devastating game breakers, but this is more of FIFA... in the street.

Presentation

FIFA Street has had a lot more than just a cosmetic makeover, but it is the first thing that will jump out at you when launching this title. Gone are the characters that looked more like cartoon players as the actual FIFA engine has been brought over to Street. Having realistic player models is excellent and the players are top notch, especially the more well known athletes. Creating your own characters is also detailed and you can play around a lot with the detailed character editor found in FIFA as well.



A large variety of locations are present in the game and offer a choice of where to play. There are no stadiums since all matches are played on the street, but they vary from parks to backstreets, gyms, rooftops and in front of various notable buildings and monuments. The areas look cool but the amount of life placed outside of the actual playing area is minimal. Since you are competing in a tournament it would've been nice to see your fellow teammates and perhaps some more fans to cheer you on. The mix of location sizes is great to mix up gameplay though and a positive ploy by the developers which is more than just cosmetic.

Player movements and animations are spot on. Being based off the engine used in FIFA players move more realistically and you can't do stuff such as instant turns to escape opponents. Tricks look great and aren't made to look impossible. They are moves you can imagine happening in a real match on the street and that makes it all the more believable. Some of the smaller fields mean that collisions between players occur often. The collision system from FIFA 12 appears to be in this game, which adds to realistic collisions but also some rare funky animations when the legs of two players accidentally get a bit stuck together. This is fine though and doesn't really detract from the game.



FIFA Street is a fairly quiet game, which is emphasised by the lack of commentary and what seems minimal contribution from the games soundtrack. Having no commentators makes sense because a regular game in the street won't feature those annoying guys on the side repeating every play, but there needs to be a pumping soundtrack to get you revved up. Something like SSX's songs would have made this into an exhilarating experience but instead it is a quiet, mediocre time that is just craving for someone to drop the bass. Sound effects of players are good, but it needs more in my opinion.

Gameplay

I opened up my copy of FIFA Street with hope that this game would emulate the FIFA Street of old and put a large emphasis on arcade fun and not taking itself too seriously. After SSX's successful reboot which follows exactly this line, I expected the same for this title. My first few games I played in disgust because it required me to play like a FIFA gamer, something that I'm not very good at. I went in all guns blazing expecting to pull off some amazing tricks and finish off the match with a devastating game breaker but this wasn't the case. After a few games though, I realised how making this closer to actual soccer actually improves the game and makes it into a more relevant game. Previously the game was all about the street, but this game has recognised the FIFA in the title and made a great hybrid of the two.

In years past, ball control has become a vital area of improvement for FIFA and this advancement absolutely shines here. You can control the ball with immaculate detail, using the right thumbstick to move the ball around and between your own legs while holding the left trigger. This allows you to set yourself and your direct opponent up for a trick, whether it be flicking over their head or a panna through their legs. It feels rewarding to pull off a sick move because gone are the days where you press the button and the opponent automatically falls into an animation that shows him being shown up. Extreme tackling is gone and follows the more subtle nature of real tackles. I felt like with no rules that they could've put some ferocity into this movement however.



The bulk of your time will be spent playing World Tour mode which is the main career mode in the game.  In this mode you traverse around the world winning tournaments, gaining new players for your team and improving your players stats. It is a fairly barebones experience with no story, but obviously you are here for the soccer action. The great thing about it is that the game continually mixes up the play, with different sized arenas and game rules that not only determine how to win, but how many players are on the field at once. Past games have fallen into the trap of just providing the same old experience every time, this is the opposite case here.

Apart from World Tour mode you can play against friends locally or the CPU in standard matches or take your skills online. Online is a different beast altogether, with the option of taking fully levelled teams onto the field. This means that all tricks are unlocked from the start and may seem advanced for someone who doesn't take on the world tour first, which I recommend. It is a lot of fun to play against others and can possibly take up many hours of your time.

Conclusion

FIFA Street isn't what I expected it would be, but in hindsight that has made it a better game than I could've imagined. Instead of simply being FIFA Street 4, this is a brand new game that deserves to be considered as such. Nothing from the past games is present and this is more of an expansion from FIFA 12 which is a brilliant concept. Bringing true soccer to the streets could've have been done any better. Hopefully they get to kick start this series and provide a better career mode and pumping soundtrack. Apart from that it is hard to fault the courageous effort of this title.

Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 6.5/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Overall - 8/10

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