Features & News

Demo Impressions: FIFA Street

March 2, 2012, Author: Phil Ubee

We, hopefully, are all fully aware that when it comes to churning out sports franchises, EA Sports rule the roost. We should also all be honest enough to admit that FIFA has surpassed PES on current generation machines in terms of the quality and the depth of its gameplay and mechanics, even if we are/were huge PES fanboys once upon a time.

However, there is still one thing missing from FIFA, something that the guys at EA Sports clearly feel can warrant enough excitement and desire to get us gamers to splash another £40 on a whole new game. That’s right folks Street Football is here.

Incredibly, the upcoming FIFA Street title is actually the fourth game in a spin-off franchise that takes the fundamental elements of Football and adds a dash of flair and trickery to proceedings. It moves the game away from all-seater, grand arenas with formally marked pitches to makeshift arenas that will take some of us back to our childhood on the playground. Jumpers for goalposts and all that.

The question clearly is going to be whether there is enough on offer to warrant an additional or alternative purchase to the mainstream FIFA 12 title.

It just so happens I’ve been spending a little time with the demo on Xbox Live to get an idea on the answer.

The demo shows the usual high level of presentation and polish from an EA Sports title with some familiar menu set-ups and player animations that look as though they have been lifted straight from the latest iteration of the FIFA franchise. Some of the traditional kits have been traded for more relaxed training gear, consisting of jogging bottoms or three-quarter length shorts and zipped jackets.

The menu music has that EA Trax feel about it, with an added dash of Urban to the mix to sit more comfortably with that Street flavour. In game, the stadium announcers speak in the native tongue of the country you are in and you will hear your colleagues and coaches shouting instruction from the sidelines, and praise you when you pull off a nice little dummy that makes your opponent look like, well, a dummy…

In this demo we can take to the practice arena, which is a one-on-one scenario, pitting you against a keeper and allowing you to practice your ‘mad skillz’. Then we have the “Hit the Streets” area, which is effectively your exhibition match. There are multiple options in terms of game type but for the demo only one unlocked, and that is a five-a-side friendly match.

Despite the Street tag this is essentially a normal game of football played out on a street pitch in Amsterdam. Anyone who frequents their local five-a-side centre will be very familiar with the half-size goals and enclosed match area that allows literal wall passes, but I will point out that in this five-a-side we can play the ball above head height.

There's no San Siro here

The general controls are the same as FIFA 12 with pass, shoot, long pass and through ball mapped to the same face buttons and the sprint and change player buttons on the same shoulder buttons as that title. The main difference is in the skill moves which form the fundamental difference of the Street titles.

The right analogue stick is used to perform the skill moves as it is in FIFA 12 but here you don’t need to be pressing the LT button to do them. If you do hold LT then your player fixes to the spot and just shifts the ball, which works as a good starting point for an attack as you can draw in an opponent and then release the LT button shift the left stick and knock the ball past a flummoxed defender.

The other game mode on offer is the main single-player game mode that you will experience in the full release, and that is the World Tour. Here you begin with a friendly match and then are prompted to create a team, including a team captain (who can also be imported from your FIFA 12 Virtual Pro). The rest of your squad will initially be made up of the players from your friendly match or more created players. Similarly, you can import created players from your friend’s games. You can also create the club badge with a fairly good editor and even get the chance to choose your kit.

Is it a Messi game?

The demo then gives you two matches a timed match in Amsterdam or a freestyle game in Shanghai. Freestyle differs from the timed match as it is all about skill points, and it’s here where Street sets itself apart from the main franchise. It is perfectly acceptable to lose the game in terms of goals scored if you reach the trick score first.

In this demo that target is 1000 points and these are accumulated by nicking the ball off your opponent, beating players and pulling off flair style passes. Then when you hit the back of the net, all those points accumulated count. Lose possession and it’s back to square one. What follows is a game balanced by pulling off tricks and feints, taking on the same player two or three times at a risk of losing the ball (and all your hard work) with just passing into space and scoring goals.

After each game, your players performances will earn them some XP and level ups, while your captain will also earn some medals depending on his own individual performance. With increased levels comes the ability to perform more tricks and feints thus opening the game up a bit.

At this stage I can see this being an enjoyable little aside to the mainstream football titles and there could be some really enjoyable online play to come. The debate for me comes in whether there is enough content here to warrant a £40 purchase, especially if you already own another football title on your home console. We’ll know the answer to that question in a couple of weeks.