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FIFA Street 3

FIFA

Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. We have all believed that we belong in the world of football; rubbing shoulders with past legends, attracting beautifully shallow women and showering with Wayne Rooney after a hard day’s training. Somewhat outrageously, this view on the world quickly evaporates, and the harsh reality of life settles in as we return to the life of clumsy spills rather than expensive thrills. But hey, if that talent scout didn’t spot you there is always next time right? Or if all else fails, enter the world of FIFA Street 3, a playground built to make those farfetched dreams feel within your reach.

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As this is the first next-gen addition to the FIFA Street franchise, many fans were looking for a new approach on the older games, as only a minute amount of progress was made between the first title and its sequel. There is little change in the core gameplay this time round, but it is fair to say the visual style of the series has been taken into a humorously artistic direction. Players now take on an appearance that mimics the work of a caricaturist in a look that hints that this game isn’t taking itself too seriously. The entire appearance of the game is impressive, as the variation of vibrant locations and a fresh approach to all of the 250 world superstars who are available to play as gives the title a sleek new exterior. Cleverly, EA BIG have also rooted a fundamental new gameplay element into their altered visual style.

Although the fresh approach to the physicality of each player is a visual delight, there is a hidden depth to each footballer’s wacky stature. This comes in the form of specialities, as each individual has a particular aspect of play that they are extremely effective in. These include the inevitable “Tricksters”, “Enforcers”, “Playmakers” and “Finishers”; a range of abilities that are vital for building the ultimate team. The premise is that if you combine the different techniques, they will compliment each other in a five-a-side team, and provide the player with an unstoppable driving force that will obliterate the opposition. In practice though, this may be a little over exaggerated. Many of the players feel hugely similar, even if their specialist area is completely different. There is little difference between the “Tricksters” and “Finishers”, especially if they are the highest rated players on the game. This is disappointing as it means a large majority of the specialities become irrelevant, and highlights that there is actually very little new gameplay elements to get to grips with.

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It comes as a surprise that this title doesn’t offer the gamer the chance to create a young starlet and take them from rags to riches in what would be considered the main single player mode. Instead, there is only a measly nine challenges to complete (all with multiple stages), something which makes this title tremendously light if you don’t have an online connection or some friends to play with at home. These challenges can be completed in only a few sittings, which means any longevity this experience has is down to the multiplayer. Completing the aforementioned challenges means you will unlock a number of new teams to take control of as well. Don’t expect to take on the likes of Manchester United and FC Barcelona with your favourite club though, as all teams in the challenges are usually made up of similarly acquainted players. An example of this would be the “Tall” team, made up of the lumbering giants of the football world such as Peter Crouch and Jan Koller. These teams aren’t necessarily a negative point, but it would have been more favourable if clubs were on offer to play as alongside these fictional squads. It is a shame that, given the new style and approach to the game, players don’t have the opportunity to create fictional characters, as this would have huge potential online as the public’s wackiest creations battled it out on the pitch together.

“It is a shame that, given the new style and approach to the game, players don’t have the opportunity to create fictional characters, as this would have huge potential online”As with other EA BIG titles, FIFA Street 3 is largely about showboating and pulling off skilful moves in order to build up the mightily effective “Gamebreaker”. Once you have nailed enough tricks to fill your “Gamebreaker” bar, you can unleash the immense force for a short period of time. The “Gamebreaker” acts as an insanely powerful momentum bar that allows players to complete a range of stunning tricks (such as flipping over an opponent’s back), and gives them the means to score from anywhere on the pitch with an alarming ease. A slightly concerning point that must be raised is the animation after a goal is scored, as the players seem to quickly teleport to a different part of the pitch in a certain design flaw. As its name suggests, the “Gamebreaker” is something that can swing proceedings in an instant if used correctly. As the challenges mentioned earlier are made up of different match types, it becomes apparent that contests that do not involve the “Gamebreaker” become much more satisfying and entertaining to participate in. Tricks are largely executed by moving the right joystick in any direction, and take minimal skill to work successfully. This means that most the time is spent guarding the ball from your opponent in order to fully build the momentum up. This is hugely tiresome; as it means the amount of actual football played in each game becomes the least important part. The realistic, five-a-side contests that do not feature any special changes in momentum hold the biggest pleasure in the title, as scoring without a “Gamebreaker” is far more rewarding. This may come as a surprise to the developers, as their tried and tested formula begins to feel lacklustre in actual practice.

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“Tricks are largely executed by moving the right joystick in any direction, and take minimal skill to work successfully.”Whenever a new football game is released there is often a large amount of players waiting to descend upon the main source of competition: the online multiplayer. Unfortunately for FIFA Street 3, it seems those players have already joined the sacred communities of the other football titles, Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 or Street’s elder brother FIFA 2008. It isn’t particularly hard to find a game, that would be unfair to say, the main problem is that I received the same two opponents a number of times. After winning only three matches I already ranked in the top four hundred players in the world, a fact that highlights Street has a tough task to fulfil in order to keep up with the competition. During online play there were small patches of lag; something the developers will surely try to iron out as more players begin their online careers. As mentioned earlier, the only way this game is going to last long in the limelight of footy titles is if the online mode is up to scratch. With that said, the multiplayer does provide a thrill, but doesn’t provide the same grit and passion as the other football simulations available already. The most interesting part of the multiplayer is the “Playground Picks” mode, a set-up that forces players to choose who they want from a certain team one by one, and then complete the match with those selected stars. This is as tactical as the entire title gets, as a range of players are needed in order to create a menacing team to play against.

As with most of their recent releases, EA have got the audio track completely correct. The artists on offer aren’t world renowned, but they provide a track listing that captures the feel of the title perfectly. A mixture of pleasurable beats and fast-paced dance productions add to the action on the pitch, and completes the new, contemporary spectacle of the game.

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“EA have got the audio track completely correct.”Rather than offering gamers a complete overhaul, the developers at EA BIG provide an enjoyable and completely playable addition to the FIFA Street series. Unfortunately, it looks as if there isn’t enough content or new ideas that will make many gamers readily come back for more once the original challenges are completed. Ultimately, a formula that now seems over-used out weighs the impressive new art style, and makes this game one for die-hard football fans only. For this franchise to progress any further, EA need to start bringing in more style and innovation, as somewhat ironically, this title lacks just that key ingredient far too often.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in September 2007.

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