Playing FIFA Street 2 is like picking a lock, except you've 200 keys, the clock is ticking and the treasure might be in another room. Despite its bewildering combination of key presses and skill moves, you're never sure how to score a goal, or whether to bother at all.
You rarely hit the net unless you've done about three tricks, while some games can be won by ball skills alone. To make things even more complex, other matches can be won by making men fall over.
Confusing? Yes. Rubbish? Not entirely - because while FS2 yields inconsistent results, the process is invariably entertaining. One second you're cursing the porridge-like tackling animations, the next praising the fluidity of an overhead kick as you dance around three players and detonate the net like a missile.
The key isn't to treat it like football, but basketball. Or 'sports entertainment'. Its core controls are a dead-ringer for NBA Street 3.
As a simple test, if you a) Love PES5 b) Can remember when Blackburn won the Premier League and c) Aren't entirely comfy with doing a Back 2 Biscuits to earn 800 Skill Bills while rocking to DJ Marky and Bungle's 'No Time 2 Love', then FIFA Street 2 isn't for you.
MC Harvey has gone, replaced by a 'radio' featuring Grooverider, some Brazilian bloke and - every silver lining has a cloud - Radio 1's Zane Lowe. On the flip side, Harvey was always going to get canned, because FIFA Street 2 is the pinnacle of committee-led game design - a scientific tapestry of market research designed to look messy and 'real'.
The soundtrack flits from Editors to Coldcut to DJ Fresh in a calculated attempt to appeal to people of all ages, tastes and backgrounds.
Ball juggling is the key addition. Hold L1 and your players will do keep-ups, which can be linked to skill moves (via right-stick twirls), or chained into combos with lofted passes.
It's possible to, say, flick the ball over an opponent's head (R2 + right analogue), catch it with keep ups (hold L1), back heel it to a team mate (square), and reverse volley it into the top corner (circle) - and that's a 'basic' combo.
Combos mean points, and points mean Gamebreakers - a slow motion race against the clock where goals count double (since they take -1 off your opponent). It's even possible to win a game instantly if you dribble around three players before scoring. No, we're not joking.
And that's the problem - FIFA Street 2 has little to do with football. Getting yourself in a good position to score (ie. one-on-one with the keeper and aiming for the bottom corner) sometimes works, but doing loads of tricks, and thrashing an improbable shot from an acute angle is often as effective, and loose ball first-time shots are almost impossible.
Passing the ball around builds combos, but there's little advantage in 'unlocking' teams, since the tricks are so powerful, you can beat anyone, from anywhere. There are hundreds of tricks (using combos of L2/R2 with right analogue directions) but each is equally powerful, save the occasionally self-defeating overhead flicks.
Winning boils down to crude timing (ie. don't ball juggle into an opponent, or pass to their feet), and raw statistics. A powerful player will almost always win a tackle, however poorly timed, against a weaker player, while a powerful shooter can score from almost anywhere.
Some matches aren't about goals, but points, so the challenge is knowing which buttons you haven't pressed to vary your combo, rather than football. Still, few games let you dress Wayne Rooney in a pink jacket and show his 'mad skillz' to the Scottish street team, or provide such a cheesy ballet of slick passing moves and blistering shots.
It isn't easy to score, so goals are always satisfying, even if you can't distil how you did it. Crudely, for every move, there's a counter move (the right analogue stick activates tricks and tackles), and if you can surrender to its perverse logic, few games offer such obvious thrills.
We've still got no love for the streets, but we do have some grudging respect <+10>.