For basketball, there's NBA Jam. For football, there's NFL Blitz. And for soccer, there was Fifa Street, EA's over-the-top arcade-inspired soccer game. But after a few successful iterations, EA Sports has gone back to the drawing board with the Fifa Street series, and revealed a newer, more realistic Fifa Street that more accurately represents actual street soccer - a brand of soccer that has been rising in popularity over the last few years. We took the game for a spin, and came out missing the insane action of the past Street games, but appreciative of the new additions.
In order to bring the authentic street football experience to Street, the developers decided to build the game on the Fifa engine. Putting it on the same engine as Fifa 12 let it borrow some of the game's mechanics, like the precision dribbling and the player impact engine. And it shows. In many ways, Fifa Street really feels like Fifa, just, well, played on the street. Or the grass. Or the beach. It makes sense, too - Fifa really nailed the feel of soccer, so it makes sense that it would feel the same when played in different settings. The ball physics were immediately recognizable, and jumping from Fifa to Street should be easy for fans of the genre.
Above: We talk to Fifa Street's Line Producer, Sid Misra, about the series' reboot
That's not to say that the gameplay isn't different at all. Fifa Street's goal is to capture the feel of street soccer and they do a good job of it. The games are faster in general, and set in smaller areas with less players. We tried a new mode that has each team starting with five players and losing one every time they score. It's a unique gameplay type that really nails the "bunch of guys grabbing a soccer ball and heading down to the basketball court to play" vibe that the developers were going for. It was also quite fun, even for those who might not typically want to get tied up in the intricacies of a traditional Fifa game.
Above: Why isn't anyone on fire? We demand someone be lit ablaze!
It was a lot of fun, and we're looking forward to checking it out again as its release approaches, but is it enough to justify a full, retail release? That's the point we're still unsure of. If it had a wholly new feel and an arcade vibe, the developers could get away with saying it's a new experience, but a pared down version of Fifa with street locations and some new game modes may not be enough to send us rushing to the stores once it hits shelves early next year. Then again, it just might scratch an itch for street soccer we didn't know we had.