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Review | FIFA Street

by on April 17, 2012
 

 Around the world, children learn everything they know about the game on the streets. Many of those children from an early age at seven or eight-years-old take those raw skills and refine them at an academy for one team around Europe. This way the children grow up in the soccer culture and at the age of 15 or 16 they are ready to enter the reserves, where they hope to one day make the first team of their chosen club. The United States has started to go in this direction, but many of the kids playing the sport are still in it because it is something for them to do when they are little, or until they are big enough to play Basketball or American Football. Many of these children do not grow up on street soccer like a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. However, EA has pledged to bring true “Street Culture” to the globe, instead of their over-the-top version they have in the past, in their reboot of the “FIFA Street” franchise. I do not know if this game will get more youngsters out there playing soccer in the streets, but this reboot brings out the great things about street soccer. With a more traditional FIFA style feel and an authentic presentation, it seems this version of FIFA Street is headed into the right direction. 

From the opening introduction, soccer fans all over the globe will notice the difference in this reboot straight away.FIFA Street is all about an authentic street soccer experience. The tricks have been infused with realism and the soccer on the field actually plays intelligently as well. Anyone that has played FIFA in the last few years may see this as FIFA lite, or FIFA with a street skin, but I believe it is more than that.  FIFA Street has a gritty look to it, which really adds to the street culture of the game. However, it does have a sleek finish and all the player animations are smooth and the players look similar to their real life counterparts. The game uses the same player impact engine from FIFA 12 and along with that come a few of its issues as well. The smaller pitches will show some of the fallacies in the engine such as:  players running into each other in weird ways, players falling down from phantom collisions, and goalkeepers leaving their post for no reason. Some of the good things from FIFA 12 are here in the game too, such as:  better goalkeeper A.I., players making smart runs towards goal, and using the LB button to add some different things to passes and shots.

They have also brought in the Right Stick over from FIFA 12 as well. Many of the tricks are performed by flicking or circling the right stick in various ways. Most of the tricks feel organic, but pushing everything to one stick with a few buttons makes some of the moves difficult to do.  However, since tricks are important to FIFA Street EA made a great decision by adding in the LT trigger to the mix. If players press the LT trigger it stops the ball and players can then do tricks, while also shielding the ball away from the defender causing them to be open for a panna. RB also juggles the ball, which I found the easiest way to get by opponents on Hard, because you do not have much time to think about which trick to use when defenders are bearing down on you. Overall, defending is more important in this version of FIFA Street because you have to pick your spots on when to actually go for a steal. If you pick the wrong spot, the next thing you will see is your opponent dropping you to your knees as they blow by you. Due to the smaller pitches, I think it is probably a smart decision to do away with the slide tackle for this game.

Once players “Hit the Streets” in an exhibition game and discover the variety of play styles, teams, and over 35 locations available, those older street titles will be a thing of the past. In the other “Street” titles, everything was about achieving a special status that allowed players to do an unbeatable turbo shot or doing as many tricks as possible on a field that somewhat resembled a rooftop or a back alley.FIFA Streetfeatures Five-A-Side, Six-A-Side, Futsal (Five-A-Side with fouls and no walls to keep the ball in play,) Panna (Bank tricks and then score to get points and empty opponents bank,) Last Man Standing (4-A-Side where the team with no players left wins,) and Freestyle (Perform tricks and score goals to gain a certain number of points.)  These all have one thing in common, you have to score goals in order to win.

Even though the Panna and Freestyle modes are about gathering up a string of tricks or nutmegs, they do not turn into actual points unless players score a goal after them. Last Man Standing causes you to lose a player every time a goal happens. The person with no players left at the end wins. In a welcome addition, all of these play modes reward defensive play as well. Players can gain points in “Freestyle” by stonewalling a shot attempt or taking the ball away from an offensive player. In Panna and Last Man Standing, defense is crucial to achieving victory because there are no goalkeepers, so regular players have to block shots with their legs, and of course, taking the ball away can be a wonderful ally to scoring easily on the other end too.

Along with the game mode additions, EA added club teams to the “Street” series for the first time. Players can now take their favorite club rivalries to the streets and see if Messi´s FC Barcelona is truly better than Ronaldo´s Real Madrid. I should mention FIFA Street only includes the first tier of teams in each of the major leagues around the world, many of the lesser leagues present in FIFA 12, are not in FIFA Street. What really adds to the game though, is the different “real-life type” locations added to the “Street” series for the first time. There are still times where you will play in underpasses or rooftops, but there are also pretty Street Stadiums in different locations around the world to play in too. Each location has something that distinguishes it from the next one, and they will have a language specific PA announcer to match as well. It is really neat to hear the PA guy say goal and such and such teams name in the native language of the country you are playing in at the time. The players also talk in their native languages as well, so you could hear someone speaking German, French, Spanish, and English on the same team. These are not things that will matter to everyone, but these small changes really help make this version of FIFA Street truly different than its predecessors.

Most of a player’s time will be spent in one mode, going around the globe in the “World Tour” mode. World Tour is FIFA Street’s single-player campaign (though you can have local or online friends join your team in matches as well, online friends can only do so for the tournaments.) Players can create their own player or use their virtual pro as the captain of the squad. Then players have a choice to create up to nine other players or just pick a few guys from some of the starting teams and get things going. Players can then choose the region of the world in which they want to start their journey on FIFA Street’s global domination. Players can go through World Tour at their own pace, as the Tour asks players what difficulty level they would like to play before each match. Players are also shown what apparel they will unlock depending on the difficulty they choose. I think that was a nice way to give players an incentive to play matches at a higher level of difficulty. The players on your team will gain levels as you win challenges and gain style points for scoring goals, performing a lot of tricks in a match, and a few other things.

Players can then distribute the points for each character as they see fit, to create Playmakers, Keepers, Stoppers, Strikers, or even Dribblers or Sprinters. A lot of the players will gain levels at once, making sure that your team remains equal whether you use half of your players or not. However, it can make leveling up a tedious endeavor for those that do not care to have a little bit of RPG with their sports game. I think the next iteration might want to include an automatic leveler, where you can typecast your player and the A.I. levels them up automatically. If you play on Hard it means you will earn more points than playing on Medium or Easy as well.

After winning the shorter challenges, a final stage tournament is unlocked, in which you have to win to go on to the next region. As players progress through the regions, they will have to play more tournaments along with the challenges to get through that region. As a nice bonus, World Tour tournaments can be played online against real players too. Certain challenges and tournaments allow players to unlock members (including real players) of other squads but is not seen heavily until you reach at least region 3. As the club teams make appearances in the World Tour Mode as well. Players can also download a friend’s created players too. So, there are various ways to fill out your roster if you do not want to create a bunch of players at the beginning of the “Tour Mode.”

Players will decide whether they like FIFA Street by how much they enjoy World Tour because it really is the “meat of the game.” While you can also upgrade your squad of players by playing the “Head to Head” seasons online against other random opponents, you will need your World Tour squad to play online as well. If you have not leveled up the players on your squad or have barely played the “World Tour Mode” at all, then you are kind of “Shit out of Luck.” The other online modes are Online Team Play or Friend vs. Friend matches, which also require the created teams from World Tour. I liked the World Tour mode a lot, but generally I also play a lot of games by myself, so having a grind it out single-player campaign suits me.

However, I think EA did the wrong thing by making FIFA Street really all about one mode. Since they attached everything to the World Tour Mode it makes the game feel very empty, especially if you do not have a lot of friends to play with locally to play against in exhibition matches. I am not saying FIFA Street needs to have as many modes as FIFA 12, but they could have at least allowed players to play online with their favorite clubs. I actually like creating teams and such, but I also like a break from my created team every now and then.  It would be nice to feel like I can do something meaningful with the other teams available in the game. They may also want to think about making a separate World Tour, which includes club and international teams as well, where you can take your favorite club team through the ranks of the world.

Overall Thoughts:  This reboot of FIFA Street is probably the best out of the entire FIFA Street series by a wide margin. Personally, I like the choice to push it towards a more trick focused version of the FIFA series. What truly separates this from a FIFA lite, is the attention to detail in the stadiums, the different match types, and the streamlining of the tricks. At some points, I really felt like I was back in my youth playing in the streets with friends, including the part where I run into my friend as I am looking for the ball.

In all seriousness, there is a lot of right done in this game. The addition of the LT trigger to the tricks is actually something I would want to see in FIFA 13. The degree of detail to the visuals is truly wonderful to behold and I really liked each of the match types.FIFA Street is certainly not a game anyone can pick up in play if they want to trick everyone out of their minds, but the game can still be played like a regular soccer game and that is a plus, as is the addition of club teams to the series.

However, EA made one big mistake; they exhausted the game by attaching everything to the World Tour. The World Tour is great on its own, especially if you like creating your own team and seeing them grow as you progress. The issue is the online modes should not be all about using the same created team constantly, to where I almost got tired of seeing my players. Players should have more choices, similar to the regular FIFA series. I mean really? There might be people that did not buy FIFA 12, who bought FIFA Street. Why could they not play online against random opponents or friends with their favorite club teams? The main problem with FIFA Street is that the only thing worth investing your time into is the World Tour, and if that is not your cup of tea, there is not much else for you to do, because all the other modes not named “Exhibition” are only fun if you chose to delve deep into World Tour, not a good idea for a sports game.

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