Preview - FIFA Street


Preview - FIFA Street
It's time to take it outside!
Forget what you know about the FIFA Street franchise to date. The 2012 release of FIFA Street is the first to be developed by the FIFA team and the proof is in the pudding. The cartoonish, over-the-top animations and models have been dropped in favour of a more realistic and familiar approach. Fans of FIFA 12 will recognise certain elements immediately, but there is enough to appease football fans, players with flair and newcomers to the series.

Anyone who knows FIFA Street knows that skills moves, flair and pizzazz are at its core. Thankfully, it can be quite easy to look like you know what you’re doing. Skills are done with the flick of the right stick, while the new Street Ball Control is simply a matter of holding the left trigger and moving the left stick. Unlike FIFA 12, trick commands are not based on the direction the player is facing; this can take a little time to get used to when certain skills are hard-wired into muscle memory, but the moves are intuitive. While all tricks are quite doable it is the mastering of them, the utilisation of them when it counts and linking them together that takes effort. However, as FIFA YouTuber Marius Hjerpseth showed first hand, when you can do them and chain skills together it is a magnificent sight to behold. Football becomes the beautiful game once more.

This may sound intimidating, but defending against skilful players is possible. The defending takes it cue from FIFA 12 and the same basic principles apply. Don’t lunge into tackles, position yourself correctly and contain properly and you ensure that the opponent has to know all the tricks of the trade to get past you. However a mistimed tackle or lunge will leave you stranded and could cost you dearly. The one-on-one battle is key in FIFA Street; the pace of the game is actually slower than FIFA 12, there is an emphasis on close control and players always face the goal as if to draw a tackle before moving into space.

Crunching tackles are allowed on occasion. This is street rules where men are men, and are able to ride challenges. The impact engine from FIFA 12 has also seen some tweaks. There were notable instances highlighted in FIFA 12 on YouTube and the development team has tried to ensure that this does not reoccur, especially in a more confined arena. FIFA Street may be more of an attacking orientated game, but defence is still key. The only unfortunate element is that defending players will occasionally stumble, seemingly of their own accord, even if you are not shadowing the opponent as they twist, turn and flick the ball.

Of course, every player will have their defensive lapses and it comes down to the goalkeeper to save the day. EA has managed to toe the line between acrobatic keepers that save everything and players that should be told not to quit their day job. Goalkeepers will pull off some impressive saves and will rarely be beaten by long distance shots, but if you leave them completely exposed, you can hardly blame them when you find yourself a goal down.

There is great variety in terms of the game modes included and some modes that can even up the playing field between two players. The most straightforward mode is 5-A-Side, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Futsal is a similar mode, but is officially recognised by FIFA. The pitches are bigger, there is a referee and players must watch their passes as there are no walls. However, the three other modes are where FIFA Street really cuts loose and shows its distinctive character.

Freestyle rewards players who can combo tricks and skills together as they rack up points. To cash in the acquired points and bonus, players must score. It is the tricks that matter more than the goal; the latter is there to cash in on the hard work that has gone beforehand. Panna gives points to players for beating a defender with a skill move and especially if they can panna, or nutmeg, them. Again, these points are put in the bank until a goal is scored. The pressure rises as more and more points are put into the bank, but the highlight of this mode is scoring when your opponent has several points in the bank and you do not. This mode rewards tactical play; players may be left with an open net, but can always choose to try to take on the opponent once again to earn additional points.

Last Man Standing has proven to be the most popular mode and it is easy to see why. The objective is to score goals to remove players from your own team. The team that loses all players first wins. This is a mode that can put better players on a level playing field with their friends. Good players may get a few quick goals, but are then going to be heavily outnumbered as they search for that final killer goal. This allows for dramatic comebacks and of course many will seek the bragging rights of denying their friend to score at all. Between players of equal skill, the match will come down to a one-on-one battle which is what FIFA Street is all about.

These game styles feature in the main “career” mode of FIFA Street called World Tour. Players start out as a local team with created or downloaded players. The ultimate goal is to become world champions, but along the way there are challenges to complete and reputations to be built at more local levels. This is the mode where players level up their characters and shape their personal style using style points achieved in matches. It is a mix of Ultimate Team and Be A Pro from FIFA 12, as superstars from around the world can be signed if challenges are completed. The most novel feature of this game mode is that matches can be played online or offline. To make the journey even more personal a friend’s team, controlled by the A.I., may be the opponent faced in a crucial game.

FIFA Street features great variety. All of these modes give an indication of what is wrapped up in the full package. The Head to Head Seasons mode was a popular addition to FIFA 12 and has been ported to FIFA Street. Players start in Division 10, but every match counts as players push for promotion or strive to avoid relegation with a total of 15 divisions in the mode. Allowing players to drop divisions from the off also means that struggling players can avoid good players who simply never started this online mode. There is also an online mode that is reminiscent of Clubs. Players can play as a team online with their friends.

FIFA Street is a fun game to play from the moment it is picked up. There is great variety and diversity ranging from the tricks and skills to pull off right through to the game modes that are at its core. There are teams missing, but Ireland’s long ball tactic doesn’t really fit the style of the game and this is a minor gripe considering there are plenty of international, club and all-star teams to choose from. EA aimed to create an authentic street football game and FIFA Street seems to strike the balance between staying true to those values and creating a game that is fun and accessible, yet harder to master. It is certainly the closest many players will get to pulling off impressive tricks or representing a team on a major stage, but still feels as rewarding when everything gels together.

Those curious about FIFA Street will have a chance to try it out for themselves when the demo arrives on February 28th. The game will be released for those with an EA Season Pass ticket on March 10th with the full release arriving on March 16th.

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