FIFA Street is the ‘pick up and play’ soccer game that mixes normal football skills with all manner of tricky moves, hoping to appeal to a wider audience than the regular FIFA game.
Taking a far more serious approach to street soccer this time around, EA gives the “FIFA Street” franchise a comprehensive makeover, introducing several different game formats, a zoomed out camera focusing, on some cases, on bigger pitches and, overall, a more entertaining and satisfying gaming experience. These games formats are an excellent addition, significantly enhancing FIFA Street’s long-term appeal.
‘Hit the Streets’ offers up five modes for you to play with ‘5-a-side’ being the regular game and ‘Futsal’ an indoor football where you can’t use the walls, resulting in kick-ins and corner moves. Free kicks are awarded, too, giving scoring opportunities from dead-ball situations. This is probably closest to actual football, so there’s less emphasis on tricks and more on fluidity in the passing game.
Next there’s ‘Panna Rules’, where you get three points for a Panna (putting the ball through the legs of your players), banking points when you score tricks and then ‘cashing’ them in when you score a goal. If the other team scores in the meantime, you lose your banked points. Panna Rules is definitely the mode for players who like to show off more, and focus on their mad skillz!
‘Last Man Standing’ is a great inclusion that, much like the similarly-named modes in racing games, removes a player each time a goal is scored. Last Man Standing introduces an interesting dynamic, since the more successful you are, the more you’re handicapped on the pitch with fewer players.
Lastly, there’s ‘Custom Match’, which allows gamers to create a game where they choose the number of players, ball type, scoring method and even if you want a goalie or not.
There’s online play over Xbox Live and also a World Tour mode taking you to different countries, each major city hosting one of the game formats, often in multi-round tournaments where success rewards the player with extras such as clothing and equipment.
FIFA Street is great fun, and plays very well for the most part. New players can start with the stick for movement and two buttons – pass and shoot – building up their capabilities as they go. Hidden below the surface of FIFA Street is a hefty list of special skills and moves, which familiarity and progress within the game will unlock, revealing much more depth than it first appears.
Sadly, non-player AI is frustrating, as the computer players both frequently ‘stick’ to yours, inhibiting movement and failing to really understand movement on the pitch. Generally, you’ll find players either getting in the way or get in good positions to help you out.
There’s plenty of scope for players who like to get the hood up and tinker with the engine, allowing customisation of player clothing to create a distinctive look for your squad. Points earned during games can be used to unlock new moves, from ‘fundamental’ skill sets or specialised, more impressive maneuvers, or to purchase ‘celebrations’, so your goal scorers stand out from the crowd. It’s definitely worth buying these because your stock of trick moves is very low when you start out, though it’s slightly annoying you have to buy them at all and would be better if they were available from the start, like in a fighting game.
Regardless, FIFA Street is a more complex, entertaining game than it ever was before, considerably improved from previous iterations with the new game modes. There’s still some work to do on the frequently woefully dumb AI, but even that can result in some funny replay moments, and for a less serious, accessible game of footy, FIFA Street is a terrific success.