FIFA Street Gamecube Review

The “EA Sports Big” branding has been attached to some very good games in its time, most of these games have fallen under the “street” category. Its last two, NBA Street V3 and NFL Street 2, were very good games, packed full of features and nice touches. Now comes the latest in the street series, and it’s a first. EA have now given the street treatment to its biggest selling European sports series, FIFA. Developed in a very short space of time by the team responsible for the FIFA series, will it live up to the billing? It’s time to find out.

Gameplay
The most important control mechanic in this game is obviously how the tricks are pulled off, The C stick or the “Trick Stick” as it is dubbed in game is used to pull off the majority of tricks. Each trick is pulled of by pushing the C stick in different directions. Better tricks can also be pulled off by combining the left trigger with the C stick. This method is intuitive and very easy to use, all the tricks are different and can differ depending on which situation you are in, for example if you’re next to the wall and you push the trick stick, your player may use the wall in the trick, pressing the “Y” button will pull off a random trick.

The games consist of 4 vs. 4; each team is made up of a goalkeeper and three outfield players. Games can differ in the way that some are won by scoring the required amount, whereas others have time limits. One difference between this and your normal football game is that there are no rules. Some real moments of hilarity can be had when you slide tackle an opponent and watch them fly 3 feet into the air, though the same can’t be said when they do it to you.

Like most EA street games, FIFA Street makes use of the “gamebreaker” system.The idea behind it is that you pull off tricks until your meter is full. You are then able to execute a thunderous shot; this has its drawbacks though. If there is a defender or the goalkeeper in the way of the shot, they will block it, leaving you with nothing. It’s a bit of a pointless system and has no where near the depth of NBA Street V3’s gamebreaker system.

The main single player mode is the career mode, called “Rule the Streets”. This consists of you creating your own player and picking other free agents to form your own team. The create a player option is average at best, you can pick out some nice boots and clothes but there aren’t much options to customize your players looks, just a few hair and mouth options.
Once your team is created you can name them and give them badge. Rule The Street is made up of 10 worldwide locations in which your team must travel to, the aim is for your player is to earn “skill bills” which are used to upgrade your player’s stats, of which there are five. You earn them by winning matches, the more tricks and gamebreakers you get in matches the more skill bills you will receive afterwards. Each location has several options you can choose from, “kick about” – allows you to play against local teams in order to earn skill bills. “Upgrade Squad” gives you a list of players to challenge, beating their team will allow you to add them to your squad.
The final option is to enter the “Rule the Street” tournament, in which you battle against teams in order to win the trophy for that location. At first these options are good and add a little variety to the game but after like the 3rd location it starts becoming very repetitive and boring, more could have been added here especially as it is the main game mode, the game difficulty barely increases as you get to the final locations, a bit of shock being that your are suppose to be playing against the best players in the world. The other play options include you being able to create your own team from the other players in the game. You can also play multiplayer and exhibition matches, but that is it I’m afraid, not even any online play for any consoles.

Graphics

The FIFA series has always been one of EA’s superior graphical efforts, with well designed players and nice textures. FIFA street is no different, the players are very well detailed and if you know your football, you won’t have trouble seeing who is who. You can even see the branding on the apparel wore by the players. The textures are all there and the framerate is steady, unfortunately that’s all that is good about FIFA Street’s graphics. Being that this game is all about pulling off outrageous tricks that seem in-humanely possibly, the motion capture has to be up to scratch or else those nice tricks will not look good at all. When playing by yourself in your own half, working on your tricks the motion capture is very good, you can easily see what your player is doing and it all appears realistic, As soon as an opponent appears, it all changes. The motion capture of the players’ chugs and the animation becomes rather jerky; watching a player then attempt to run with the ball is an ugly sight. The clips are poorly edited and the sequences are all wrong.

The ball graphics are outrageous to say the least, the ball moves in ways you don’t think possible and at times seems to deflate in mid-air. The surroundings are ok, if nothing spectacular they are are small and caged in with no fans in sight, also the colours used are rather dull and very unappealing.

This game isn’t really about the graphics, so they don’t need to be top notch; it’s just a shame that the motion capture is so poor, as it is the one graphical area that is important to the game, no point having all of those beautiful tricks if you can’t see them properly.

Sound

As is the norm for any EA game nowadays we get the stupidly named”EATrax”, and I’m afraid it’s all down hill from there. The music is a mix of rap and R’n’B and is mostly shocking. Even if you’re a big fan of that genre of music you’ll find it hard to like these tracks. They’re full of obnoxious lyrics that go straight though your head and very poor melodies that have no hook in them whatsoever. I’m not finished there though as it gets even worse, the commentary is provided by the supposedly famous “MC Harvey”. He speaks the worst drool I have ever heard in a game, half the time he isn’t even talking about what is happening and has an awful tendency to add terrible raps to the commentary that almost make you feel physically sick. Towards the end of playing this I had to play it with the sound down, because if I had listened to him any more I would have thrown the controller at the television.

There are not that many sound effects to speak of, but the sound of a gamebreaker shot hitting someone in the face is rather funny, the rest of effects are nicely done with sound of the ball bouncing around right on the money. It’s a shame that because it’s a street game, EA feel the need to get all urban on us and introduce very substandard music, we can only hope it improves for the sequel and they get rid of that MC Harvey as commentator.

Lifespan

This game isn’t going to be one that will last you a long time, it has nearly no replay value and its game modes are very limited. The only option with any length to it is the “Rule the Street” mode and I would be surprised if the majority of people can even stomach that. Perhaps online play would have benefited this game, but i’m beginning to see why EA did not include it, in its current state it is not a title that would top the most played list on Xbox Live, I’d be surprised if it even made it on the list. The only way I could see this lasting at least 10 hours of play is if you’re a big multiplayer fan.

Overall

It’s a real shame how the final product turned out, as on paper it had a lot going for it. There is no escaping though the shoddy graphics, repetitive gameplay and terrible lifespan. Perhaps if EA had given it another few months of development time, things could have turned out a lot better. As you read this, EA has recently announced a sequel to this game. If EA Canada can improve the motion capture, increase the gameplay options, include some decent tunes and get someone who can commentate properly then perhaps the sequel can be the game this should have been. But as it stands I would not recommend this game to anyone.

4.8 out of 10

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