FIFA Street 3
Football sells. The clubs know it, the shirt manufacturers know it – and EA certainly knows it. The football video game market is a goldmine for developers ready to exploit eager armchair fans ready to splash out to play as their favourite team from the comfort of their home – so it’s no surprise we’re inundated with games that are football related. The FIFA series comes and goes with a yearly update, and with every World Cup we get a tournament-themed game to complement it. So what does FIFA Street 3 bring to the table to convince fans to splash out? From the off the differences between Street and the regular FIFA series are easily noticeable, instead of eleven a side football FIFA Street 3‘s all about the five-a-side, instead of tactical play it’s all about the flamboyant flicks and tricks us mere mortals can only dream about pulling off, and instead of photo-realistic graphics it’s all about over the top cartoon character models.
First impressions are good, from the second the game boots up we’re greeted by EA’s trademark polish and shine with easily accessible menus to navigate which make it easy to get straight into the action. Gamers that have played the previous Street incarnations will be right at home with the controls, as the gameplay’s largely the same as the first two efforts on the previous generation’s hardware. Tricks are performed by flicking the right stick, while the traditional Cross to pass and Circle to shoot control scheme from FIFA‘s used, allowing players playing for the first time to easily get into the thick of it if they’ve played any of the FIFA series before. For every trick pulled off your ’Gamebreaker’ bar fills, which once full dulls the screen and allows the player to enjoy near-impossible to stop shots for a short time, the game sometimes does suffer for it though, as losing possession to your opponent starts to make your bar slowly decrease and in turn promotes keeping possession rather than going for goals. FIFA Street 3‘s all about being over the top, the goals you can score follow suite as some absolutely spectacular goals can be scored from nearly anywhere on the pitch – and it’s mighty satisfying when you send an overhead kick screaming into the top corner. A new addition to the franchise is that each player is given a different speciality such as Ronaldo being a ‘trickster’ and Rooney a ‘finisher’, which while being a nice idea in theory, there’s no real difference between each class of player, sadly – and renders its inclusion rather pointless.
The 5-a-side football on small pitches ensure the game plays frantic and fast with end to end football, and since the game’s played in a caged environment, the walls and fences that barricade the pitch can be used to play the ball off and create some nice flowing moves which can look rather awesome at times. With only the craziest cannonball shots able to escape over the fences, and the lack of fouling, it keeps the game momentum flowing nicely. A problem does arise with the defensive aspect of the game, attacking play uses most of the SIXAXIS/Dualshock 3’s buttons and triggers, while defensive play basically consists of two types of tackle (aggressive and gentle) and sprinting; which does tend to grate after a while, leaving defending seeming wanting and very frustrating. The computer AI works well, making a tough opponent (especially later on in the challenge mode).
Typically for an EA produced game, Street 3 has high production values in both the audio and visual departments. The game soundtrack fits brilliantly with the fast paced nature of the game, and graphically the 250 players included in the game are brilliantly brought to life and easily recognisable with the over the top cartoon-styling. The over-exaggerated physiques of the stars and environments you play in snuggle up nicely with the laid back style of play. I witnessed a few moments of shuddery slowdown but nothing that impacted the actual game play in any negative way, which is always a worry for third-party produced PlayStation 3 games.
The offline component as a whole is pretty thin on the ground, the only options are either quick play or ‘Street Challenge’ mode, where the aim is to play through set challenges to unlock different teams to play as. It’s bizarre EA have negated to add a master league type mode which would be perfectly suited to this type of game, allowing you to buy and sell players to build a dream team would be a great addition and something you could potentially lose hours in. Unfortunately, you can’t play as any real teams, but as groups of famous players selected by physical traits and appearances. Games aren’t decided by who has scored the most goals at the end of a set period of time but by meeting certain criteria such as scoring 5 headers or volleys and not scoring using the ‘Gamebreaker’. There are around 30 challenges to complete, which should be achievable after only a few hours play time – which is disappointing and leaving FIFA Street 3 severely lacking in content if you‘re not on PSN.
If you are however, the online modes kick some life into the game when the offline mode has long outstayed its welcome. Pick of the litter (pun intended), is the ’Playground Picks’ mode where both players take it in turn to pick a star to line up in their team just as we all did back in school. Bar this interesting gimmick there’s little other else that FIFA Street 3 does online that’s anything particularly great, games tend to be lag free and connecting to players is quick and hassle free – but there’s nothing to make it standout and keep your attention online for very long.
To sum it up, FIFA Street 3 is a fun, yet relatively short lived game that won’t keep you entertained for too long compared to the likes of Pro Evo 08 and FIFA 08 – but there are far worse ways to burn a short while here and there. The offline mode’s a big disappointment, although the mechanics of the game have been improved on since the previous instalment, the lack of content offline really is a massive let down and doesn’t make the game look like a sound investment at full price. Maybe if they add a more expansive career mode in the next instalment it may be, but as it stands; it’s not.