Like a lot of sports games these days, FIFA now comes in two flavours; the conventional FIFA titles that are released yearly and FIFA Street, the NBA Jam of soccer titles. This time around, EA has tightened up the nuts and bolts of the series, creating a hardcore, trick-based football game that is addictive yet difficult to master.
Integral to any decent football game is a formidable control scheme. With FIFA Street the majority of it is spot on, with players reacting quickly to whatever inputs you might feed through the controller. EA has taken a leaf out of SSX’s book here and gone for some dual-stick magic, with the right being used for any complex ball control. Passing, shooting and all the rest are done very conventionally, but it’s this right stick that really makes FIFA Street such a fun game to play.
The number of moves your player can pull off, once you have them unlocked, is fairly extensive. Never do you feel like you are repeating play styles or using the same attack and defend techniques over and over. For a game based around such tiny pitches and with so few controllable players, this is definitely commendable.
Best of all, though, is the way that the game gives you the same amount of enjoyment at any skill level. It’s just as rewarding for a beginner to pull off a simple trick-and-pass combination as it is for an expert to have the ball flying all over the place, eventually ending up in the goal.
In terms of presentation, FIFA Street doesn’t quite approach the levels of games such as FIFA 12. It does do away with some of the slightly cartoony looking player models of previous games in the series. This is no bad thing, because it helps reinforce the game's more serious approach.
Lighting looks okay, pitches are varied enough so as not to feel like every match is being played in a pub car park and the customisation is there, should you want to change the way players appear.
What really elevates FIFA Street’s looks is the player animations. EA has really tidied up the way they move about the pitch in this reboot. Nothing is clunky and every single pass, tackle and trick move looks super-smooth. The result is a game that runs and plays quickly - which is crucial for a title like FIFA Street.
Rags to riches
FIFA Street actually has a very enjoyable career mode to it. In a nutshell, you create a single player, start off as a footballing nothing and then work your way up through the five-a-side ranks. On the way you earn experience points, which can be spent on improving your characters in various ways, like adding new moves or bettering skills. Players will flock to your team the better you get, and more-exciting pitches and venues will become available.
It’s a very simple, fluid and addictive experience that’s perfect for hour-long play sessions. FIFA Street is a game you can pick at without worrying about losing too much time in your evenings.
This is helped, in part, by the different game modes. Take Futsal, for example, this is the sort of official version of street football with fouls and the rest. We found that a quick Futsal match is all you need for a fix. Panna - a more trick-orientated version - will help boost any skills you have with ball control as well as the right stick and left trigger moves. Finally, there’s an online mode, World Tour.
Here, player matches become localised based on your region. So teams all based around London, say, will battle online. The game is also built for multiplayer and works perfectly when played with friends online and offline.
FIFA Street has been a rather nice surprise. A game that we weren’t particularly excited about, after the last title’s shortcomings, has clearly been rethought in a big way. The slightly more serious approach to street football, as bizarre as that might sound, actually complements the way the game plays.
By tidying up player animations, creating a smooth multiplayer experience and drawing on a little technical expertise from FIFA 12, FIFA Street is a worthy title for EA’s now rather elite footballing line-up. It also makes the game a worthwhile purchase on top of that ubiquitous single football game per year approach. A game that even the most ardent of football-haters will end up enjoying, FIFA Street strikes just the right balance between fun and realism. And it has an ace soundtrack.