Fifa Street 2 PS2 Review

Despite the general propensity for EA-bashing on forums around the internet, I actually quite like them. They have brought us some excellent games over the years, especially under their extreme sports mantle, EA Sports Big. Games like SSX and NBA Street brought me hours of fun. However, they have always lagged behind in the football (read soccer) sim market, with the various incarnations of FIFA playing second fiddle to Konami’s Pro Evolution series. FIFA Street was an attempt to combine the two and give some urban action to the beautiful game. It failed. However, EA have clearly not given up on the franchise and have recently brought us this, the inventively titled FIFA Street 2. Let’s see if it improves on things and, more importantly, if this is worth your hard earned cash.

Graphics

The game looks nice, make no mistake. EA have always been able to produce a looker of a game, and while this isn’t up there with the best of their efforts, it’s an attractive looking game. The stiff player models and odd ball physics of the first game have been addressed, and everything moves at a good frame rate. There are a nice, varied selection of pitches to play on, all set in different areas, with a decent mixture of surfaces and night/day action. The create-a-player option, mainly used in the career mode, is deep and it is possible to get a good likeness of most people if you spend a bit of time tweaking it. The graphical quality unfortunately doesn’t carry through to the cut scenes you will see in the career mode. These look very rough compared to the rest of the game and it’s a good job this game isn’t relying on an immersive story as these cut scenes certainly wouldn’t convince.

Gameplay

On the first few plays, you will be convinced that EA have delivered a fast paced, frenetic football game that captures the mood of street soccer perfectly. However, the cracks soon begin to show on repeated plays. Whilst the graphics are very nice and the animations are very well done, it just doesn’t feel convincing or interactive enough. Let me explain. Say you are the attacking team and a wide variety of tricks are available to fool your opponent, but exercising them isn’t nearly satisfying enough. Once you’ve completed the requisite button presses, a lengthy animation begins over which you have no control. Think Final Fantasy style cut scenes, only much shorter. What I’m driving at is that once you’ve pressed the buttons, you may as well just sit back for several seconds until the game decides to allow you to take part again. It’s the same when defending. If the attacking player performs the move right, you are powerless to do anything about it. Your player will look confused, probably fall on his backside, and it’s been absolutely nothing to do with you. This means that games, particularly against another human opponent, tend to resemble air hockey in that it’s just goal after goal with little skill involved. Whilst this may satisfy our American friends and their demands for high scoring sports, it just doesn’t sit with the football purist. Games tend to involve cricket scores, with my last game before writing this review being a close 18 – 16 win over a mate.

The career mode, “Rule the Street”, is pretty typical of the Street range of EA games. Create a player, start at the bottom and gradually work your way up to bigger and better teams and pitches. It’s all deep enough, but the gameplay soon begins to drag and it becomes an effort to keep playing long enough to progress.

Sound

There is a good selection of music accompanying the game, split across various stations, each with its own DJ. Whilst nowhere near as annoying as the commentary in the first game, these DJ’s do soon begin to repeat phrases and this can become monotonous. EA Trax is present and correct, and I have yet to meet anyone who thinks this is a good feature. It would be interesting to be able to ask EA why they persist with such a disliked feature. The rest of the game is just your standard football sounds, like the smack of boot on leather. These are done well enough, as are the crowd effects.

Lifespan

As stated, the career mode is deep and will take a good 15 – 20 hours to plough your way through. The versus mode is also available to play against friends. The question is, though, whether the gameplay is engaging enough to keep you coming back, and I suspect most gamers will answer this in the negative.

Overall

EA Sports Big have certainly improved on the first version of FIFA Street. However, many of that game’s fatal flaws remain. The gameplay is clumsy and doesn’t make you feel in control at all. The graphics look nice, but you feel you have little to do with what is actually happening on screen. The soundtrack is okay, but the DJ’s still annoy.

This is a move in the right direction, and I remain convinced that there is room for a good street football game in today’s market. This isn’t it, though, and whilst decent enough for a night or two’s play with mates after the pub, there is nothing here to warrant spending your cash on. A rental at best, but I will keep an eye out for the third in the series. Maybe, just maybe, EA will then deliver a football game to sit proudly along its other, excellent Street series of games.

5 out of 10
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