Like a coin, football has two sides. One side is played on a pitch in front of thousands of fans. Then there’s the other side, played everywhere else – in the streets, in parks and backyards. It’s not a game of tactics, money, or fans; it’s a game of love – love for the sport. And EA has something to say about both sides of the coin.
The most interesting thing about FIFA Street is that it runs on FIFA 12’s engine, retaining the newer physics and collision system. Although it’s a safe approach – easier to adopt for FIFA players – it isn’t as responsive on some occasions since this game is on a much smaller scale, making actions like turning and running appear sluggish. What does work is the tricks. Thanks to a simple control scheme and EA’s new Street Ball control system, the game captures the street feel very well. The Street Ball controls work similar to jockeying, but with the ability to control the ball rather than the player, giving players room to bait the defending player and pull off all sorts of tricks on him.
The game sports a huge arsenal of tricks, ranging from simple nutmegs and rainbow flicks to advanced humiliating tricks, and surprisingly, the learning curve is not steep at all. The game has the capacity to often give you the ‘you got served’ moment too. Sadly though, due to the exclusion of the Gamebreaker feature, the tricks don’t count for much in most game modes. Disappointingly enough, the passing system is barely existent. It’s more of an excuse to play the ball forward than to someone there. The same applies to shooting too, with no influence to the direction of the ball at times. There is also a lack of any solid defence system, with just a single tackle button to use against any sort of attack, creating a hit or miss scenario.
FIFA Street exhibits stunning graphics. Since you have a constant close-up of the players, EA needed to deliver solid, crisp visuals, which they did. Supporting the graphics is one the best soundtracks in sports games. There is also constant chatter between the players in the game, but it is sometimes off cue. EA has included an arena mode too for players to practice their tricks.
The game features four match types. Five-a-side has the simplest setup – five players a side with the objective of scoring highest number of goals. Panna Rules mode pits the opposition in a classic trick-based affair, where you accumulate points for different types of tricks and finish off with a goal to make them count. The Futsal mode played inside an indoor stadium with application of some professional rules. Lastly, there’s Last Man Standing mode, where the objective is to keep score and eliminate your own teammates. To my delight, a custom match option is included to tweak the rules and even the number of players in a match type. It was also great to see that the size of the goal changes as the number of players increases, ranging from a small box in 2vs2 to a futsal-like net in 5vs5.
The game has three difficulty modes instead of the five settings included in FIFA games, and quite rightly so. There is highly noticeable change in the opposition AI when switching to a higher difficulty level, requiring immense skill and talent at the higher levels. Friendly AI is supportive, but the goalkeeper is disappointing for most part, behaving more like an outfield player.
The finest aspect of FIFA Street is undoubtedly the World Tour mode. You’ll need to create your own Pro for this mode, but you do have the ability to import your Virtual Pro from FIFA 12 or even use your friends’ Pro to build your team. The mode starts off by putting your team through regional competitions, followed by national, continental and world stages. Qualification requires you to go through single matches and tournaments, which vary in type and number of players. The opposing teams also vary depending on the region you start in, including the national league teams of that country.
Points are awarded to players for their involvement in the game i.e. tricks performed, goals scored, etc. The points further add to the XP of your player and upon levelling up, you get points to spend on either increasing the player attributes or unlocking tricks or skills for the player, paving the way for a very balanced progression system. You are also given a chance to swap in a player from the opposing team after some victories. A chance to select difficulty is given before each match or tournament, and that affects the items that will be unlocked and the points that will be earned. It’s one of the better unlocking systems I have seen in sports games. The mode is packed in content and will keep your thoroughly entertained for several hours. You’ll even find yourself replaying older matches to unlock stuff. Oh, and you can play the tournaments online too, earning you the Gold (hard) medal if you win. Good job, EA!
Complementing the World Tour mode is an impressive multiplayer component. You can choose to play in the Street Seasons mode, which is like the head-to-head seasons mode from FIFA 12, giving you ten matches per season to play for a chance to get promoted to a higher division. There’s also Online Team Play mode, where you take control of your Pro and play along with seven other players. You can choose to play with or against your friends in 5-a-side, 6-a-side and Futsal modes in either 1vs1 or team play modes. The game also includes the EA Sports Football Club feature, giving you up-to-date news, including your friends’ achievements and suggestions on players to add. The only downside to multiplayer is that you’re limited to playing with created teams.
EA has hit the nail on the head with a deserved reboot of a franchise they were never fully successful at. The new direction the game has taken has worked its magic. It’s not without its flaws, but FIFA Street presents a brilliant street experience in every way possible, accompanied by a very interesting World Tour mode that’ll keep you busy for a long time. Being able to humiliate friends online with the flick of the analog stick is worth every penny.