FIFA Street: review


A retail copy of this game was provided to us by price comparison site for the purposes of this review. Compare FIFA Street PS3 prices here

The fundamental problem facing the FIFA Street games has always been that a sports game which places the emphasis on showboating is, by definition, shallow. This new, numberless entry in the series clearly sees itself as a reboot; not least because the goofy caricatures which populated previous games have been replaced by “realistic” character models a la FIFA 12. While the FIFA Street gameplay has been matured like a fine wine, the FIFA Street presentation and organisation has matured like a fine cheese; it stinks.

The basic setup remains familiar. Two small football teams face off against one another in a vaguely ‘street’ stadium (e.g. basketball court or car park) to play flashy football. Humiliating beats, athletic shots on goal, and inventive passes are the order of the day here. How entertaining you are is almost as important as the final score. While happy to offer traditional five-a-side matches, this game spreads its wings further to also incorporate.. er… four and six a side matches. But wait, there’s more!

Futsal is played in stadiums where the ball can go out of play, with no walls for rebounds; it’s also the only mode where you’re penalised for fouls, and it seems that the game is less generous here when it comes to readjusting your passes and shots to ensure they stay on target. Last Man Standing is an interesting mode whereby each team loses a player whenever they score a goal, the winner being the first team to lose all their players; Freestyle is all about racking up style points by showing off; and Panna rules is a nice break from the norm too. A 2v2 mode played in ultra-small arenas, each pair earning points by getting the ball past the opposition in particularly humiliating style. Points are ‘banked’ by scoring, which also wipes any unbanked points the other team earned.

Much as we'd love to say otherwise, players never actually look this camp while performing tricks.

Though initially daunting, the controls are – crucially – exceptionally well designed and surprisingly intuitive. At their most basic level they will be familiar to fans of regular FIFA games, though the right stick will get an awful lot of use as most tricks rely on it. A simple flick in the right direction(s), or a fireball style sweep, and this stick will instantly see your player attempt the kind of showy footy move you always dreamed of perfecting as a kid. These tricks aren’t just for show, either. You’ll soon realise that, by carefully observing your own player as well as the opposition, perfect timing will see you fly past those trying to tackle you – in great style. There’s true satisfaction to be had in an unstoppable, trick-fuelled run topped off with an acrobatic goal.

It is however this obsession with flashy footy and making this play style accessible to all that serves to quickly highlight the game’s main faults. EA are happy to boast of “over 100 officially licensed clubs”, each of which makes every trick in the game immediately available to the player. What EA are significantly less keen to shout about is the fact that you can only use these clubs in one-off matches – and only offline. Read that again. There are “over 100 officially licensed clubs” – and you’re not allowed to use a single one for online play. Not even for playing the main chunk of the game, a story of sorts going by the name ‘World Tour’ (you can play the whole thing offline, but online play is integrated should you so wish). This now shines a light on two more problems. This is besides the game being so determined to have everything look hip, the freaky geeky captain we wanted ended up looking like a catalogue model…

Firstly – incredibly – four a side and even Panna and Last Man Standing are not available for online play, in or out of World Tour. Secondly, as you can’t use club teams for 90% of the game, you almost exclusively rely on your player created team (which can include licensed players). This is a problem simply because each and every one of your players must be levelled up, which involves just as much grinding as your average RPG. Earn points by winning matches and playing stylishly, then spend said points on tricks (most of which are locked out until a certain level) and upgrading attributes such as shooting, passing, and “athleticism”. Try playing online without putting hours into grinding, and your team of Mr Beans will likely get hammered.

There are approximately 1500 licensed players to not choose from when playing online.

Online certainly has its upsides. Matchmaking is impressively fast, and most matches we played experienced no lag at all (though a rematch option would have been more than welcome). Team Play, where each person (maximum of eight per match) controls just one player, works much better in these smaller environs than it does in vanilla FIFA. Unfortunately, it’s 50/50 on whether you’ll be lumped with morons who forget the pass button exists, and cost you a 7-1 defeat.

Allowing up to seven people (PS3) to play together offline is a brilliant move, but refusing to allow multiple people to go online on the same console is not. Neither is forgetting (refusing?) to put a comprehensive invite system in so you can team up with friends and take on the world in Team Play. Strange omissions for a game that worships bragging rights.

If you are playing with friends – and/or once you do have a half-decent team to take on strangers with – FIFA Street is immense, unpretentious fun that will greedily devour hours of your life at a time. World Tour is varied and engrossing enough to grip you until the end, even if you play it exclusively offline. Sadly, however, daft decisions have prevented this good game from being great. Also: maybe it’s because we’re too old and jaded to be considered ‘street’, but the soundtrack is bloody terrible.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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