FIFA is back with EA Canada’s latest iteration of the Street series. The 2012 edition of FIFA Street brings the main series’ physics engine, along with slick moves, a user-friendly interface, fun gameplay modes and an overarching feeling of having played it all before.
To preface, I love FIFA. It is my favorite sports series ever and will hopefully continue to be the standard by which other sports titles are measured for the foreseeable future. That being said, I have found FIFA Street to be a high quality game, but much too similar to the main series to be considered anything more than a supplement.
Right away, you will notice the simple and clean interface that does everything right, but is not exceptional or innovative by any stretch. This, in a certain sense, can be an indicator of what to expect with the rest of the game.
Options for teams and players are expansive and you will definitely be able to play as your favorite players and teams from around the world. But honestly, that should be expected anyways.
The game modes are anchored by the World Tour, where you build your own player and team in order to compete in various tournaments and challenges, with the eventual goal of being named the best street team in the world. There are numerous other game types that add depth to Street, including 5-A-Side, Panna rules, Futsal and Last Man Standing, along with custom options. All have their special features, but they all sort of run together and provide a similar experience throughout, hurting the overall depth and replayability of the game as a whole.
The online features are great, though, offering your competitive side tons of opportunities to test your mettle against other players around the world. You can compete in 10-game seasons where, if you play well enough, you will be promoted to a higher division and play against better quality opponents. There is also online team play where you can enter the pitch with up to seven other users.
The gameplay itself is fun, hectic, fast-paced and satisfying. Chaining a great juke with a pinpoint goal is a great feeling and makes the whole experience pretty much worth it. Being able to use the walls adds another element to the relatively deep gameplay features as well. Although goal scoring is not as epic as it is in the main FIFA series, Street gets style points for some impressive and accurate shooting mechanics. In the main series, you’re effectively “placing” the shots. In Street, you’re “sticking” them….with authority. This makes the scoring more satisfying in the sense that you feel more like a pro because great shots usually require the least effort, as strange as that sounds. However, it must be noted that, if you do not shoot the way the game wants you to, you will be ripping shots right at the goalie or woefully missing them.
This last statement leads to one of the make or break aspects of FIFA Street. Although it’s not as deep as the main series, Street does require a stricter adherence to what the designers would say is the “right way to play.” If you do not implement crosses and thru balls, along with proper cuts and runs, and finish up with slick one timers, your progress will stagnate and the game will devolve into a back and forth scrum. In an action-oriented title such as this, there should be an emphasis on allowing you to play like you want. If this means ripping shots, then you should have an option to do so. Muddled action is the last thing you want in the “beautiful game” and can make the Street experience become broken and forgettable. Conversely, if you keep the proper way to play in mind, FIFA Street can be a blast.
As for the graphics, they are quite good….from far away. Once the camera zooms in on the pitch and players themselves, graphical issues become visibly apparent. Along with stiff movements and choppy celebrations, the outfit design is atrocious. The uniforms are plastered onto the players and the shorts in particular are completely out of sync with player movements. The best way to describe this unfortunate issue is that it looks like everyone is wearing starched, lampshade-shaped pants for some reason. Although this seems like a minor issue, you see it in EVERY single game, and it takes its toll after a while. Simply put, the art and design just seems a bit lazy at times.
The sound effects are much different than most FIFA games in the way that they emphasize intimacy, with individual voices commenting in real time. This visceral approach to audio has the players, as well as a few fans, yelling out instructions, encouragement and insults throughout each match. It’s very refreshing in a sense, due to its ability to make you feel as though you are in the middle of the action. But it falters a bit with the repetitive, delayed and confusing nature of the comments themselves. Since there are no real announcers, you never really know who is talking and what exactly they are talking about. It becomes obvious early that the shouts are mostly random and cannot be used to actually help you during the match. This makes an innovative new feature quite unnecessary and, unfortunately, somewhat annoying after a few hours with the game.
As for the music, it must be stated that I have always loathed the FIFA soundtrack. Not a particular game’s soundtrack mind you, but rather every single soundtrack in the series. As for FIFA Street, the music is, well, good in terms of the lackluster history that preceded it. This, in very simple terms, means that it is decent for an EA Sports title and terrible for video games in general. I came in expecting very little satisfaction from the soundtrack, and FIFA Street delivered, sadly.
The glaring issue with Street is the fact that it is too similar to the main series, and the flaws that you may not have seen in FIFA ‘12 will be on magnified display in this game. The FIFA engine is great, when implemented properly, but this game actually does it somewhat of a disservice. The issues with the main series are less visible because you are far from the pitch when playing. With Street, you’re up close and personal, so the small issues are readily apparent. These issues could have been avoided if Street focused on making a fast-paced action soccer title instead of a FIFA clone with different match rules. This would be akin to if Madden decided to make a 7 vs. 7 football game and simply kept the engine and all of the features of the main series, while adding different play modes. Just like Street, this may be interesting and fun, but it simply does not differentiate itself enough, and in effect, muddles the experience.
I found myself wishing I had FIFA ‘12 in my Xbox because the pair is just too similar and I might as well just play the better one. It is obvious that FIFA Street is suffering from an identity crisis, and aligning itself even more closely with the main series is sending the game in the wrong direction.
All in all, FIFA Street is a fun diversion from the main series but does not bring enough to the table to be thought of as anything more than a good supplement to the excellent FIFA brand. Since it is very difficult to outshine one of the best sports video games of all time, it would have been in Street’s best interest to separate itself a bit more and focus more on the arcade experience than trying to meld action and simulation into a nice, compact and accessible form.
FIFA Street is a successful sports title, but it does not offer the depth nor replayability of its blue-blooded sibling. It is just too similar to the main series to really differentiate itself. Even with this gripe, this title is recommended for the simple fact that FIFA is still an excellent sports option and has enough redeeming factors and pedigree to warrant a rental or purchase.
This review is based on a copy of the game that we received for review purposes.
FIFA Street offers the classic FIFA experience with fun, accessible game modes and a focus on stylistic flair.