Fifa Street 3 Review
Written : Wednesday, February 27, 2008
By: Alan Baxter (GT: Bax x360a)
Football has long been known as “The Beautiful Game” thanks to the tantalising tricks and flicks performed by our heroes week-in week-out in the professional leagues. Most of us could only dream about pulling off these highly skilled moves, but now the famous developing studio Electronic Arts allow us to live the dream and recreate these mesmerising moments via their latest title, FIFA Street 3. This offering is the sequel to the successful arcade football titles FIFA Street 1 and 2 that were released on the Xbox and Playstation 2. Join us as we see whether or not Electronic Arts have scored a hat trick or shot just shy of the goal.
FIFA Street 3 is not your typical football game as it offers an arcade style of gameplay and graphics, in contrast to the tactical and realistic approach of other games in the genre such as FIFA 08 and Pro Evolution Soccer. Scoring goals in astonishing fashion and making your opponents look foolish is the main aim and appeal of the game, as opposed to scoring a lucky goal and hanging on for a crucial 1-0 victory. This will result in a lot of goals being scored, possession being switched between teams more frequently than usual, and fast, frantic gameplay being the main focus. In order to provide you with this style of gameplay EA have developed the game using the same engine as their previous sports title NBA Street Homecourt, a title also based highly on stylised gameplay.
Pick from 18 National teams
During your FIFA Street matches, you will perform fun and eye-catching tricks in order to fill up a bar in the upper left corner of the screen, which I will refer to as the trick bar. When this bar is full, you will be able to implement a special sequence known as a “Gamebreaker”, which I will explain later in the review. To fill this bar and perform the tricks, you have the option of pressing the Y button on your controller to juggle the ball and perform “keep-ups”, or swivel the Right Thumbstick in various directions to perform different drags and skills on the floor. Holding the Left Trigger whilst juggling will allow you to catch the ball mid air and hold it with a certain body part, which is a particularly impressive move to perform. From here, you can then string together more juggles and other skills. Along with these 3 buttons, EA have implemented interactive environments into the game which allows you to run up walls whilst still dribbling the ball. This is impressively done, and is an effective way of cranking up your trick bar to the max. Combining the 3 buttons together, as well as wall running, is the key to producing mind-boggling tricks, dazzling your opponents, and quickly filling up your trick bar. Showing off your original style in your opponent’s end of the pitch will also fill up your trick bar far faster than just standing around doing tricks near your goal. This is due to a higher risk of getting tackled by your opponent and losing possession of the ball, with the threat of them then keeping the ball for long periods and making you look like an average schoolboy as they nutmeg you and flick the ball over your head in showboating style.
The actual tricks themselves are disappointing however, due to a lack of variety being offered to the gamer. You are likely to see the same skill performed multiple times throughout a single game or series resulting in gameplay becoming tedious and repetitive, resulting in the replayability factor being rather minimal in a sense. Another disadvantage with the trick system is that all players seem to have the same moves in their repertoire. An example of this is with the players John Terry and Wayne Rooney, who appear in the game for the English national team. John Terry is a no-nonsense defender in real life, with Wayne Rooney being one of the most skilled and highly talented strikers in the world. Terry could only dream about performing some skills and techniques in real life situations that Rooney manages to produce, but in the game, both characters appear to have the same set of moves. FIFA Street is not trying to provide a realistic experience but by giving defenders, midfielders and attackers a different variety of tricks, gameplay could have been vastly improved.
After successfully filling up your trick bar, which will be indicated by it flashing orange, the real fun can begin. This allows you to start a sequence called a “Gamebreaker”, where the screen becomes grey and your shots near impossible for the opponent’s goalkeeper to save. Your Gamebreaker will only last for a short period of time however, and if the other team manages to score whilst your Gamebreaker is active or the ball leaves the arena, normal play will be resumed and you’ll have to work tirelessly to build your trick bar back up. Having a Gamebreaker active will allow you to score jaw-dropping goals and volleys, including overhead kicks from the halfway line and scissor-kicks from impossible angles. These look very impressive, and will help bring enjoyment from the game. As well as allowing you to score outrageous goals, the Gamebreaker can be the difference between you taking home the first place trophy or trudging back to the dressing room in disarray. If the game is a tight affair and tied at a certain score, the first player to achieve a Gamebreaker has a huge chance of finishing off the match and taking victory, because as long as shots are taken in your opponent’s half, they will more than likely find the back of the net. The computer A.I seemed to instantly improve against me when I activated a Gamebreaker, very rarely failing to make successful tackles or scoring a goal to void my Gamebreaker sequence. This could have been down to me getting over-excited, just plain sucking at the game, or the A.I improving when Gamebreakers are active; I’m not sure. Overall, Gamebreakers are a nice addition as they help bring intensity into gameplay, making you nervously battle it out knowing the first player to fill up their trick bar is most likely to become the victor.
You may enjoy performing all the stylish maneuvers with the ball, but you won’t have as much fun on the defending side of things. An awful tackling system has been implemented making it extremely hard on occasion to win back the ball from your opponent. You will often go long periods without the ball, as challenge after challenge fails to make contact with the ball making you extremely frustrated. A perfectly timed tackle is needed to regain possession, which will take a large amount of practice and gameplay time to consistently do well. The X button allows a slide tackler, with the A button producing a more conservative tackle; with each being fairly ineffective most of the time. EA might have purposely made tackling a hard feature to allow skills to be performed successfully on a consistent basis and allow you to keep the ball, which is obviously a positive point. Without the ball however, screaming at the TV and pulling your hair out due to stress will be a likely occurrence. Having to watch the computer or human opponent juggle the ball for long periods of time might be too much for some players to handle, decreasing the enjoyment of the game immensely.
A poorly delivered tackling system is not the only bad side of the game with the biggest disadvantage being the lack of a compelling story mode or campaign. A campaign that allows you to take a group of amatuer freestylers and progress them to the status of world champions, or something similar, could have been implemented in order to provide excitement and prolong the games longevity. Instead, the main single player mode is called FIFA Street Challenge, where you will find 9 series’, each consisting of a certain amount of matches. Win the series to unlock the next events, which will become harder as you reach the latter series’. Each match in a series will have different stipulations in order to win, including scoring the most goals in the set amount of time, the first team to reach the score target and the first team to score the set amount of headers and volleys, among others. Having a variety of rules helps to make each match less repetitive, and is a nice change from constantly playing just original matches over and over again. However, the 6 modes can still become tiresome after a while, which suggests there isn’t enough variety in the modes, or not enough different modes to begin with. By the time you finish the FIFA Street Challenge and unlock all of the teams via progressing, you will likely lack the motivation to compete in the Challenge mode again; in the near future anyway.
As well as FIFA Street Challenge, you can participate in the basic “Play Now” and “Practice” modes. These are good for honing your skills in preparation for taking on the worlds elite online or playing on the same console with a friend, but neither of these will keep you entertained for long. Playground Picks however might change that frame of mind; this mode allows you to choose a team to use but each player takes it in turn to pick a footballer from the team to represent for them. For example, if England were chosen as the team, Player 1 could pick Rooney, and this would stop Player 2 from being able to use the striker. However, the footballer that Player 2 then picks would not be able to join Player 1’s team, and so on. Having your favourite player picked by your foe can be frustrating, but you can take immediate revenge in the form of picking his/her first choice picks. After the teams are picked, you then choose which type of match to participate in, for example win by scoring the set amount of Gamebreakers or normal goals etc… Playground Picks for some reason can’t be played against the computer, which I see as a strange choice from EA. If you haven’t got a friend round or do not have access to Xbox Live, you will not be able to play this innovative game type; which would be a real shame, as it offers the potential to have a large amount of competitive fun with friends.
Oh crap, not Ronaldinho again!
Head to Head mode is where you will venture if you want to play matches against a friend on the same console. Here, you can choose the from 6 different stipulations mentioned earlier in the review, creating a personalised match of your choice including which location out of the 8 available you want to play in, along with what ball you use, and whether you play to the best of 3, 5 or 7 games. The Head to Head mode is a good option if you just want to chill and relax with a couple of friends, and therefore is a nice and needed addition to the game.
Multiplayer via Xbox Live is available if you want to put your wits to the test and prove yourself as freestyle pro. All of the game types are available to play online, with the most popular among many gamers being Playground Picks. Multiplayer is where you are likely to find yourself most of the time during your FIFA Street experience, due to the lacklustre single player modes not offering indulging story-lines or many hours of gameplay. Playing through the FIFA Street Challenge might still be a motivation though, as you can take teams you unlock online to give you the extra advantage against your friends or random opposition.
“My FIFA Street”, located in the main menu is an important section of the game as it allows you to change the difficulty level, among other things. 4 difficulty levels are available, being easy, medium, hard, and the cleverly named “Cheeky” mode; due to the computer performing rather cheeky tricks which will make you embarrassed and full of rage wanting revenge the next time you take control of the ball. The 4 difficulty modes allow players of all abilities a good time in FIFA Street, with easy being most suited for beginners, medium and hard for the average sports and football fans, and the cheeky difficulty providing a tough challenge for any gamer. As well as changing the difficulty level in My FIFA Street you can choose whether you want replays to be shown or not. Having this option is a very nice choice, as watching replays after every goal can become very tedious after a while, and therefore this option is welcomed.
The graphics in FIFA Street 3 have been very controversial leading up to the games release with some gamers stating they fit the game perfectly and they adore the cartoony art style widely compared with that of Valve’s Team Fortress 2, with others despising the choice made by EA, slating character models for having the same tall, lanky appearance. Whether the graphics appeal to you or not is definitely a personal choice with this game, and personally, I rather like them. Each environment you play in is nicely detailed with some gorgeous lighting effects present coupled with awesome detail on walls and floors, such as graffiti. The interactive environments are also a welcomed addition to the game and work well to add more tricks and style to the gameplay.
EA TRAX is once again featured, where a soundtrack of songs plays through the game’s menus and matches. The songs can also be listened to in the My FIFA Street section, allowing you to choose whether you want them to play during the game or be switched off. Having this choice is handy as it obviously lets you avoid songs you dislike and only listen to the songs you enjoy, if any are present in the game. FIFA’s soundtrack won’t win any awards, but is solid enough to avoid getting on your nerves and asking yourself “What the hell is that I’m listening to?!”.
You will be glad to hear that FIFA Street 3 is an easy 1000 gamerpoints, taking no more than 12 hours for most gamers, and can be completed in approximately 6-8 in some cases. Both single and multiplayer achievements exist with the former being the most dominant. Multiplayer achievements are mainly rewarded for winning Ranked matches, but this can be hard to achieve in certain situations. If you are winning by a large margin or with time rapidly running out, your opponent might quit the game. “Fine” you might think, I’ll take the win and save some time; but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. If you are winning and your opponent quits, you will not be credited with the win, and therefore quitting a match can be seen as a very cheap get out clause if chances of success are unlikely. The required amount of games to win for the sweet 100 gamerpoint achievement is 25 ranked matches, but in theory, you may have to win many more before credited with the achievement. You will earn single player achievements by just playing the single player modes, and can unlock most of them without even aiming to.
EA TRAX provides a solid soundtrack which will neither make your ears bleed or force you into a world of tranquillity. Most of the songs suit the game’s style well, and will not feel out of place as you flaunt your skills to the world.
The visuals in FIFA Street 3 are like Marmite; you’ll either love them or hate them. Personally, I like the cartoon style graphics and think they suit the arcade style gameplay well.
The lack of a story type mode is a real shame, with only the FIFA Street Challenge being available to play through apart from the usual Practice and Play now modes. Fun, playable modes are present for when your friends come round, and multiplayer via Xbox Live can add a lot of hours to the game; but if you’re not a fan of multiplayer or have no access to Xbox Live, expect to play this game for less than 8 hours before completion and boredom sets in.
The lack of modes and solid but lacklustre trick system are huge disappointments, which could have easily been rectified and improved upon before the game was released. The menus look gorgeous and there is a solid soundtrack to tag along, but nothing awe-inspiring.
You will be pleased that FIFA Street 3 is a very accessible 1000 gamerpoints, which can be unlocked in an average of 8 hours for most gamers. Both online and offline achievements have been included, so make sure you have Xbox Live if you plan on unlocking the full 1000 points.
FIFA Street 3 had the potential to be an outstanding game, allowing you to recreate the moves your heroes seem to pull off with great ease in real life. Unfortunately though, a lack of game modes, love them or hate them graphics, along with a questionable trick and tackle system make the game only a rent instead of a buy in my book. The game feels rushed, with an obvious lack of love and passion.