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FIFA Street

Jumpers for goalposts? You're havin' a laugh. EA may well be taking football back to basics but FIFA Street isn't just a bunch of scruffy urchins having a kick-about in the park, before legging it home to a clip round the ear from mum because dinner's gone cold and they've worn a hole in their school trousers.

We're talking glamorous locations in football's global hotspots, such as Rio de Janeiro, Marseille and Rome. We're talking the world's greatest players representing their home nations in ultra-cool sportswear that's entirely impervious to grass stains.

And we're talking four-on-four footie action that puts the skill back into skilliant as you flick the ball over your marker's head before unleashing a flying volley into the top corner. Striker!

Coming from the same EA stable that gave us the US sports madness of NBA and NFL Street, this is similarly urban in looks and style, and raises two fingers to the word 'simulation' by putting almost as much emphasis on how you score goals as how many goals you score.

A boring tap-in might win you the match but it goes against the cavalier spirit of FIFA Street. Instead, you're encouraged to rack up the combos beat-'em-up-style - linking a string of skill moves into awesome attacking forays that hopefully end with the ball in the back of the net, but even if you miss at least you'll have done so by larging it big style.

Boasting two dedicated skill buttons, plus short pass, high pass, sprint and, of course, shoot, the controls do take a bit of getting used to.

But once you start thinking Street Fighter rather than FIFA 2004, you'll soon get the hang of how to link a roulette with a step-over flurry and when it's best to throw in a cheeky nutmeg (hint: it's not when your last man is facing two on rushing opponents).

All this trickstyling tomfoolery not only looks cool but when you fill that combo-meter you're rewarded with the opportunity to hit a Gamebreaker - a zoomed-in, slow-motioned, blockbusting shot on goal that's virtually unstoppable.

And there's plenty of substance to the style. You can take part in multiplayer 'friendlies' and basic matches between 16 world-class footballing nations.

All the game's biggest stars are here - Henry providing the va-va-voom for France, Brazil's goofy duo of Ronaldo and Ronaldinho playing samba football, the pug-like Rooney terrorising defences for England.

And if you don't fancy filling their boots you can always build your own pro thanks to the hilariously in-depth Create Player options. But the mode that will undoubtedly keep you off the streets the longest is the globe-trotting delight Rule the Streets.

Starting out with a mediocre squad and your own created player, your task is to travel the world taking part in street tournaments and earning enough Skill Bills to buy better players or boost the ability of your humble squad.

Skill Bills are acquired through winning games and scoring goals but you can earn just as much cash by simply turning on the style.

Beating an opponent one-on-one with a piece of skill, linking combos and hitting outrageous passes all rack up the points. And what do points make? That's right, Skill Bills!

Before you know it you'll be banking those bills and bringing in some big names to help you climb the street football ladder.

There's massive scope here and even when you've won the ten Rule the Streets tournaments, the incentive to keep earning cash to turn your created player into a football genius should keep you playing for months on end.

FIFA Street is in position to hit the pavement on 11 March for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube

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