FIFA Street is absurd, but not entirely unrealistic. For all its fancy flicks, deft touches and brilliant goals from impossible angles, it’s not that different from the football you think you’re playing while down the park with mates. Best of all, thanks to revised gameplay and new looks, FIFA Street 3 lets you live out your Kaka-esque dreams without the toe-curling urban ‘vibez’ - and dire MC Harvey commentary - of the old games.
EA Big’s bombastic PS3 debut comes with a new look, turning the players into caricatures. Rooney is built like a bear with massive shoulders, a stocky chest and a pug face, and Crouch looks like he’s made from a string of sausages.
Different players are put into one of four categories: Enforcers - defenders like Puyol who can tackle well, Playmakers like Kaka who can pick out more accurate passes, Tricksters that can dazzle with skills like Ronaldinho and Finishers - player’s of Raul’s quality who can score from all over the pitch. These talents are accentuated when you fill the Gamebreaker gauge by pulling off tricks and activating it. Each of your five players - from goalie to striker - will become even more powerful as the screen drains of colour except for the rainbow trail of the ball. Shooting is almost a guaranteed goal in this mode as long as you don’t smash it straight at the keeper, so tricking your way up to this status is well worth it.
FIFA Street 3 feels more fluid, too, thanks to the silky-smooth animations and new free-running elements. The moves are tinged with an element of parkour - you can run up and across a nearby wall with the ball still at your feet or sprint straight up it and backflip over a chasing defender. You can even vault over an opponent and perform a volley.
You can now juggle the ball and upset the opposition further. While standing still you can perform keep-ups using your feet, knees, shoulders and head, and for an extra bit of flair you can trap the ball on your shoulders or foot. The skills certainly look ace and varied, but we soon found ourselves using the same run-and-juggle technique - it easily builds up your Gamebreaker bar and makes it almost impossible for the opposition to get the ball - especially when you’re playing against the computer, it seems.
The reason we adopted this one-dimensional approach, aside from it being the simplest way to win, is because FIFA Street 3’s Challenge mode is dull - and you’ll be keen to blast through it. Other modes offer traditionally timed-matches where the most goals wins, or matches where you can score with headers and volleys only, modes with no Gamebreakers and games with a variety of score targets to meet. You unlock new teams and players as you go, but there’s no payoff after each challenge is completed. It all feels patchy - you jump from one challenge to another without so much as seeing your players actually celebrating. And because there isn’t an ultimate goal - except for unlocking new players, teams and kits - it starts to feel empty after a short while. Playing against a mate, as ever, is miles better because at least there’s someone to humiliate with your mad skillz. But the single-player challenge will leave you cold.
Still, FIFA Street 3 ticks all the boxes - and it’s more accessible for ditching the hammy urban sheen. You can dip in for a quick game, but you can also go a step further and create your perfect team, tailor your play to each of your players' strengths and weaknesses and go up against the elite online. There’s limited solo fun to suck from it, but rope some mates in and you’ll be able to digitally show just how good your real-life skills are. Well, how good they are in your mind, at least.
Feb 19, 2008