Mesut Ozil tunnels the ball through Gareth Bale's legs, performs a spectacular lob, and passes to Cristiano Ronaldo, completely alone. The latter, rather than accommodating the ball and score easily, throws himself into a choreographed scissor kick and torpedoes the ball into the goal.
The situation described above occurred in the first ten minutes of my first game of FIFA Street. It immediately makes me think the developer has been frozen in time, and we're seeing but a continuation of the previous games.
But it's not. The scissors, for example, occurred only once in the game, something that would happen at least five or six times in previous games.
The first three titles in the FIFA Street series had a relaxed attitude towards realism, and acrobatic excesses were frequent enough in some games that you could tell it didn't take itself too seriously.
This has greatly changed with the latest newest release, primarily due to developer manager position falling into the hands of EA Canada. They are the ones behind the "real" FIFA series, and the changes can be felt. From control, ball feel to the visuals - all remind heavily of FIFA 12. This is both good and bad.
There are a few modes in FIFA Street, ranging from the classic match 5 on 5 to the Last Man Standing mode. They're a good variety of different rules.
It is also possible to create a custom game, based on variants from the main modes, letting you modify the number of players on the field, the type of ball, time duration and such.
FIFA Street also has a mode called World Tour. Here you can create your own player and make a team sourced from in-game players and user creations. If, for example, you begin in England, the team has to win some matches in the southern regions, and then participate in a regional tournament. Then you work your way up to national tournament, continental and global events.
In all the challenges in the game you collect so-called "style points", triggered by dribbling, precise objectives and the like. In World Tour these points raise the level of the players, and allow you to acquire specific skills. In this way you can change the individual player to fit a specific role in the team.
The matches in World Tour are on three different levels of difficulty, each of which unlocks a useful item to customize your own team. Obviously, if you win a game at the highest difficulty, you unlock the prizes awarded by playing in the lower classes of difficulty. You can unlock t-shirts, Nike shoes, and the like, and later you unlock special teams and new playgrounds.
It is also possible to play World Tour online against human opponents. Also available is an online service called Seasons Street, where after ten games you'll shift to the next division or avoid relegation in the one where you are. There are a total of fifteen divisions, so expect several hours of fun before you reach the top.
In FIFA Street the real purpose is to perform tricks during play. The controls are borrowed from FIFA 12, but adapted to the new formula, so that there is a chance to do some additional tricks. To go into precision dribble-mode, you hold down the left trigger and then with the left stick control the position of the ball. You can then use the right stick to perform some of the most spectacular and humiliating tricks.
If an opponent tries to make a tackle, with the right timing we can jump and blow the ball through his legs, gaining extra style points and simultaneously humiliate your attacker.
This emphasis on dribbling is fundamental to the experience of FIFA Street, and to build game strategies.
There is great deal of background diversity in the game, ranging from indoor soccer fields, ugly parking lots and, last but not least, a field located in a favela in Rio.
However, not everything is perfect. The fact that the control is taken directly from FIFA 12 also means that the system of defense tactics was also included in FIFA Street.
It works well in larger pitches, but can be problematic on smaller ones. If the opponent is dribbling, sometimes, it seems that an invisible barrier raises, and causes the opponent to fall. If you try and steal the ball with the wrong timing, the result can be quite disastrous. In many cases the opponents fall for almost nonexistent contacts, which is frustrating (and unrealistic).
When you play the games without a goalie, it's also near impossible to keep players by the goal as they arbitrarily choose to leave every time you take offensive. Small problems, but on a game built around accuracy and tight control, it can frustrate.
FIFA Street is a fun game of football, which encourages creative play and humiliation of your opponent - the sort of tortuous play that makes the game so fun, especially when playing with friends. Yet I believe that FIFA 12 will continue to steal their evenings - aside from the smaller fields and dribbling, for all its visual and control similarities, FIFA Street could well have been an expansive DLC pack for the predecessor.
This does not change my assessment: the game is fun, and is sufficiently well structured to give longevity. So if you, like me, you love to humiliate both the artificial intelligence that the other players, prepare to take to the road, to turn up the stereo and chase the ball: the challenge to become the best player from the road has just begun.
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