PS2 REVIEW: FIFA STREET 2

Fast and funky and not to be taken seriously by serious sports gamers. by Vaughn Smith

March 14, 2006 - To those who take soccer, football and basketball seriously, the Street series might seem like a "goof" on their favorite sports. If we look back at the origins of these types of games, we'd find that they originated in the arcade with games like NBA Jam and NFL Blitz. These games took artisitic license with the official rules, scaled down the teams and favored action over rules and gamers loved them. With the evolution of home consoles, arcade visits were on the decline and publishers stopped creating arcade versions of their "Wham, Bam" sports titles and released them for home play instead. At the same time, games based on the professional sports became more realistic and overshadowed the arcade-style sports games with unparelled depth, online play, real teams, sports stars and exciting visuals. But there's still a niche market for those gamers out there who just want to have fun, score some goals, shoot some hoops and get a touchdown without worrying about the mindnumbing details and that's exactly where EA's Street series falls into the scheme of things.

FIFA Street 2 continues the tradition of fast and furious, style over substance gameplay of the Street series and it definitely succeeds. FIFA Street 2 features 4 man teams comprised of created characters and soccer superstars, most of which I don't recognize because I'm not into soccer. The name of the game is scoring goals and kicking balls while being as fancy shmancy as you can with all sorts of wicked tricks and stunts to pull off.

Where FIFA Street 2 differs from games such as FIFA 06 and Winning Eleven aside from the obvious absence of players and real soccer stadiums, is the number of gameplay twists you'll have to master to win Career mode. It's not just about kicking a ball into a net and that becomes apparent the moment you come to grips with the games intuitive control system based largely on the right analog stick. No matter what system you own - PS2, Cube or Xbox - you won't have any trouble controlling FIFA Street 2, even if you're not exactly comfortable with using the R analog stick for moves right off the bat. The R analog stick control will be familiar to anyone who has played Fight Night in the last couple of years, although it can be slightly more intimidating because you will have full 360" degree control over your player(s) with the left analog stick. EA went to great lengths to keep the R analog stick usage fairly simplistic, which it most definitely is if you consider the cool tricks you'll pull off with the pull back and slight rotation of the stick. You'll definitely get more out of it than what you put in and you can't say that for too much in life.

As you progress, each game will take on it's own unique charm with objectives required to move on. Obviously EA isn't insane and some of the games will simply require you to score more goals than your opponents, but soon after the fun begins and you'll need to master all sorts of moves subject the other team to all sorts of devious humiliations at your hands....err...feet. Some games require you to score "Pannas" (nutmeg, rata, tunnel, cueca etc.) which requires you to shoot the ball through your opponents legs (and vice versa) to score points. Soccer players don't like that; makes 'em feel dumb. Other games include using Gamebreakers or scoring as many trick points as you can to win. You will even find the ability to play a real game of soccer within the confines of FIFA Street 2, but more on that later.

Before you start a game you can head directly into the create-a-player feature which could sideline you for hours if you're one of those "indecisive" types. EA has been honing this mode for years in almost every one of its sports titles and there are so many options to experiment with that it can be a tad overwhelming. You can also create your own "pitch" which is the area you're going to play in. While it's purely cosmetic, it's kind of nice to add your own artistic design to the place....uh oh, I've been watching too much HGTV with the wife. I'm losing my masculinity now that The Man Show isn't on anymore.

Since this is arcade soccer and not FIFA 06, you have to leave your expectations at the door, otherwise you'll be badmouthing the game for what it isn't. The actual soccer in FIFA Street 2 seems to be vastly improved over last years game, although I didn't spend days on end playing it. I found the tricks to be incorporated into the gameplay far more cohesively and it made for a more exciting and seamless game of soccer, where as last years title seemed to be soccer with some tricks but disjointed in both areas. I'll give EA Sports Big kudos for putting together a better game this year.

As mentioned you can play regular soccer without the tricks, but after you've invested the time in learning them, the game seems empty and shallow without them. It didn't take me long to go back to having fun as the game was intended to played. All I'll say is that if you want to play a regular game of soccer load up FIFA or Winning Eleven and get on with it.

Trick combos are what will separate the wheat from the chaff in Street 2 and this time out you're given counter moves that you can attempt to predict with a directional selection. If you select the correct one, you will be able to counter; if you don't (you have a 1 in 4 chance of getting it right) you'll be snagged into a juke animation which will render you completely useless while it goes through the motions. As this can happen quite a bit, it's no wonder why you will leave some players a wide berth as they come by, simply to avoid being yanked into this vortex of animation. When playing with human players this isn't quite as commonplace since the game is coded to follow a particular pattern of behavior.

Visually the game looks to be on par with last years game, although again, I'm not very familiar with the original FIFA Street. The trick animation looks great and it is more seamless integrated into the animations. Musically DJ Yada Yada Yada, the guy who would NEVER close his yapper is gone, and in his place is some other dude who doesn't blab all over everything. I'm not much into rap or hip hop, but I can at least appreciate silence, so that's cool.

FIFA Street 2 is like Napoleon Dynamite's Liger, you know, a lion and a tiger mixed, bred for its skills of magic. It's soccer and trickery and it's actually executed quite well. It's obviously far less cartoony than Nintendo's Super Mario Strikers and I'm guessing that game is the reason why Mario and Luigi don't appear in the Cube version of Street 2. It's not the deepest game of soccer you're going to play, but if you'll remember I already painstakingly explained for your benefit why this game exists, at the beginning of this review. It's a fun, fast paced arcade-style soccer title which you'll have fun playing alone or together for an unspecified period of time. It's not perfect, but it's chockfilled with entertaining gameplay modes. If FIFA 06 is fine cuisine, FIFA Street 2 is a corndog and a coke and sometimes, there ain't nothing better than that.

By Vaughn Smith
CCC Site Director

Rating out of 5
FIFA Street 2 (PS2)
3.8
Graphics
Better animations with some minor frame rate issues here and there.
4.4
Control
Using the R analog stick for tricks (in combination with the buttons) works really well once you get used to it.
3.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
DJ Blabbermouth is gone and in his place is some other DJ who gets down to the tunes. Yes! But I dislike rap, so I'm not very happy anyway. What is it with EA and Rap? I swear, before rap, some black dudes probably liked ACDC you know.
3.8
Play Value
Friends with the same passion for the game will elongate the value, but even if you're a lonely friendless loser, you'll still get a decent amount of mileage out of the modes. No online though.
3.9
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
System: PS2 (shown), X, GC
Dev: EA Sports Big
Pub: EA
Release: Feb 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Vaughn

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best