FIFA Street review for PS3, Xbox 360

Platform: PlayStation 3
Also on: Xbox 360
Publisher: EA
Developer: EA Canada
Medium: Blu-ray Disc
Players: 1 – 8
Online: Yes

It has been a couple of years since EA has released a new game in the FIFA Street series since the ho-hum FIFA Street 3. With the new FIFA Street being helmed by the actual EA Sports FIFA development team, have they brought enough ?A? game to this scaled down version of the famed football game? Or, is there still some ways to go before not only hardcore fans, but casuals fans will want to get their hands?or in this case?feet on it.

For the unfamiliar, FIFA Street is a 5 vs. 5 game played in city streets but actually has a real life following and stars to go with it, unlike games like NFL Blitz or NFL Street that were merely arcade versions of a real sport. With over 35 competitive locations all over the world, the fan base may be scattered thin, but the folks who follow it are loyal. In the video game version there are tons of variety in the moves, tricks, and skills offered by the game?s stars, so no two players will be exactly alike. This trick heavy system makes great strides in being a very enjoyable video game as well as not only will you be able to perform moves like neck stalls, flip-flaps, roulettes, swirls, etc., but also you will find ways to gain money and experience to add more value and hone your skills as well. What also makes this sport unique is while the play area is smaller, you have more ball control and freedom to perform slicker dribbles, moves, and shots than you could hope to perform on a traditional soccer pitch. It?s all about style and creativity if you are going to be successful, and not become overly predictable, or you will find yourself being scored upon and schooled faster than you can say New York blackout.

Visually FIFA Street looks very solid with some great player animation, city landscapes, and impressive move sets that really stand out when you string a few combinations together to get the edge on your opponent. Not that the visuals will astound you by any means, but for what the sport provides, the uniqueness of each individual city street at least feels fresh from game to game. The audio and presentation do their job by providing the proper commentary, player taunts, and other specialties that attempt to provide as much fluff to the game as you could possibly squeeze out of it.

If you find your place in this niche title, there are plenty of features to keep you kicking the night away from single player and co-op, to online play. Toss in Street Challenges and Tournaments that will have you gaining respect online and on the leaderboards. You also have the option of some customization features, a Street Network where you can share your videos of your sweetest tricks, and a FIFA Street community to share thoughts and create matches with folks all over the world. The real meat and potatoes of FIFA Street is the game?s World Tour Mode that allows you to create a player, pick a country or origin, and then find a region to start your FIFA Street career. You will participate in a pickup game to begin with, and from there you get to chose from the players who you were just matched up against and create your own team to take on the world from there. Along the way you will participate in other matches, pick up other players, and gain skills and abilities yourself and see if you have what it takes to be the best. What?s more, all your games are shared within the Street Network so you can play games in this mode offline against the CPU, but even better, take on the world in online play as well that all tie into the same career without having to bounce back and forth online.

When the smoke clears, whether or not diving into the world of FIFA Street is for you will most likely already be known. It depends not only on your love of soccer, but also of this street style of game play that adds a bit of flare to the sport thanks to its bigger frills, smaller pitch, and aggressive scoring attitude. If you loved this series before, expect tighter controls, better combinations, cooler skill move sets and shots, and improved visuals overall. Add to the fact the World Tour Mode is pretty extensive and you have a nice little title to play during soccer?s off season or between your already progressing FIFA seasons. I?m not sure if there is still enough glitz to draw in the casual masses, but it is engaging and entertaining enough for the curious to give a look. As long as EA Sports continues to bring this out every so often and not beat it like a dead horse, then I can foresee a following that will be happy to venture into this sport when it comes around.

Grade: B