FIFA Street Review

Developer: EA Sports Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: February 22, 2005 Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

Soccer sure isn’t America’s favorite pastime. It is the world’s favorite pastime, however, and that’s probably one of the reasons why Electronic Arts put the effort that they did into this game, targeting a European audience, and casual American gamers that just might need a soccer game for their collection. For soccer enthusiasts, FIFA Street might be as insulting as SlugFest is for me as a baseball fan. Otherwise, it’s safe to say that FIFA Street is a fun alternative to simulation soccer.

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Before you do anything else, you need to create a soccer player. You can customize his looks right down to hairstyle, hair color, skin color, facial features, height, muscle tone and definition, clothing colors, etc. Basically, there’s enough here to create a player that matches or resembles your likeness, and use team colors that match your personal style, such as green and gold for the Notre Dame soccer team.

After you select the physical features that meet your wants, it’s time to distribute ‘Skill Bills’, FIFA Street’s equivalence to currency. Skill Bills, at the start, are used to allocate skill improvements for the single player that you create. Later in the game, Skill Bills will be needed to open matches, buy new players, etc. The last thing you’ll do before hitting the street is picking the other players that will consist of your team.

Shortly after this selection process is complete, you can hit the street. To start, you will have three locations to choose from, and your team’s headquarters for managing personal attributes, fitting your players in unlocked clothing, etc. The cities available from the start are Marseilles in France, New York City, and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. By competing in tournaments, you can unlock new locations, including Amsterdam, London, Berlin, etc. There are ten total locations to select from, once all of them are unlocked.

In order to ‘Rule the Street’, you’ll need to build up your team’s skills. Instead of upgrading each individual character, you will only upgrade the one character on your team that is ‘you’. Skill Bills are used to upgrade the six or so attributes available to upgrade, including speed, shot accuracy, etc. In order to upgrade the rest of your team, you must acquire new talent by beating a player’s team of which you want.

In total, there are 80 matches to be played across each location, 8 matches per location. You don’t have to complete these matches to partake in the ‘Rule the Street’ competitive tournament, but you do need an entry fee and minimal team skill. Your team skill is an average of the skill level of each player on your team. The ‘Rule the Street’ tournament is a single-elimination, 8 team tournament.

Rule the Street games, unlike the non-tournament games where the rules are ‘first to five’, has a 3 minute time limit per half, 5 minutes for the championship game, respectively. Calculating the math for that shows that it roughly comes to three and a half hours of gameplay for the Rule the Street tournaments alone, which is a strict interpretation, not including pauses for replays. This doesn’t even include the 80 other matches that you’ll have to complete in order to beat the game. You’ll have no problem in playing this game for well over 15 hours.

While I’ve been rambling about the inner workings of the game, I’ve left little to how the game actually plays. Even though I’m a newbie to any of the Street series games, it’s probably safe to say FIFA Street plays a lot like its brothers, in that it offers a lower number of players than a simulation game for the respective sport, a smaller field of play, and the ‘Gamebreaker’ one-shot near-guarantee.

For me, the newcomer to these EA BIG sports games, it took about an hour or two to get a firm grasp of how the game played. I’ll admit to getting whooped the first few games, figuring out how the controls worked for both offense and defense, how the tricks played into the game, and how to trick the keeper. Unless you have patient friends, they’re likely to be intimidated by the learning curve, but once you get a grip of how it plays, you’re going to get in an unstoppable groove, and likely never lose again.

Tricks are the name of the game, at least if you want a ‘free’ shot. The Gamebreaker is sort of like a Matrix-meets-soccer game concept. Basically, if you collect enough trick points, you earn a ‘Gamebreaker’, which, when using a button combination (L1 and circle for PS2), will give your player a freeze in action on the field, allowing you to kick freely. The only time you’ll miss is if an opposing player trips you while you are pressing the button combination, or if a player is blocking the goal.

If you’re a person that gets bored easily on the weekends, like me, then FIFA Street is the perfect source of entertainment. I found myself playing until 3 a.m. Sunday morning (whoops, sorry God!), about four to five hours straight. It’s the perfect weekend rental, but for the lack of a cohesive multi-player experience, it’s hard to warrant a purchase for anyone that’s not a junky of soccer video games. Online multi-player wasn’t included, but that will be fixed with the inevitable sequel. Still, whether soccer is your thing or not, FIFA Street is worth your time.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 7.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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