FIFA Soccer has become a staple of the EA Sports lineup and an integral part of many gamer’s lineups. The yearly iteration has seen consistent improvement to which many fans have praised the series for its ball control and trueness to the sport. Touted by EA as the number one selling sports franchise in the world, FIFA looks to take players back to the street, a place where they have not been since 2008. FIFA Street is a complete reboot to the franchise adding realism and real life street venues from around the globe to take players into the life of a street soccer rookie playing in small time court games and moving up to high intensity 6v6 championship tournaments. Can this breathe new life into the street series or does it belong on the curb?
FIFA Street offers fans of the FIFA Soccer franchise a chance to transfer their created ‘Virtual Pro’ from FIFA 12 right from the start, enabling them to build a street team around him. Players will be able to customize their team and create more players than just their import in the ’World Tour’ mode. Customization of individual clothing, team name, logo, attributes, play style, and various other in depth team options. Throughout the World Tour mode you’ll travel the globe facing off in a variety of game types from 2v2 to full on 5v5 or 6v6 tournaments made up of three qualifiers and then bracket play. Events also range from ‘freestyle’ - where you gain points to your bank by doing tricks and pannas while scoring goals to reduce the opposing teams bank to nothing. Last man standing requires teamwork and great solo effort to win, as each time you score a goal, your team loses a member until one man is left and you score the final finishing goal. Another great mode is ‘First To Five’ where you simply have unlimited time and it requires you to be the first to five goals. The World Tour mode is littered with modes like these aside from the 5v5 and 6v6 solid street ball or Futsal - which is like regular FIFA but with dribbling and street mechanics.
Each event in World Tour will put you to the test and allow you to choose one of three difficulties; bronze (easy), silver (medium) or gold (hard) with each giving you a different reward for the win while unlocking the lower tiered rewards. For example, if you beat an event on gold, you unlock the silver and bronze rewards which range from clothing, street teams, or even new arenas to play in. World Tour also gives you the option to play the events online against other players but sticks the AI at a set gold difficulty. In order for you to progress and be eligible to compete in the variety of game types in Street you should have at least six players on your created team, but you can have a maximum of ten. Through online connectivity you can take the Virtual Pro from your friend’s FIFA Street team and use him as your own. World Tour will throw players on a lengthy ride through four tiers covering regional, national, European and global street ball. Each tier requires you to place in the top three in the finals to progress. Tournaments play an integral part in advancement giving you points in the current tier on your teams rankings. Another great element is that your opponents during World Tour are gathered by the EA Online servers and are actual teams created by players around the world. It assures that no two players will ever have the same opponents at a given time.
The controls are one thing that FIFA Street take to heart, and players will agree when they pick it up. FIFA fans will be familiar with the control layout and take to it almost immediately. Dribbling and juggling will become a key attribute with many players as it will be your easy way to deke around defenders and even fake or trick them so you can kick home the goal which is simple and done by holding down the R1/RB while pressing a direction the left stick to kick the ball up or juggle it over the defender. Dribbling is done in what is referred to as street ball control by pressing L2/LT and utilizing the left stick to confuse the defender. Players who get a little over confident can show off some flair with the L1/LB button while passing (X/A) or shooting (O/B) to do some over the top techniques; like kicking it with the back of your foot or a behind-the-back shot. Skill shots can be done by toying with the right stick against a defender and deking them in a variety of true to street, stylish ways where the ball passes through your opponents legs - s0mething known as a ‘panna’ or ‘nutmeg’. As you progress with each player, you can use attribute points to purchase more skill moves to use. On defense your job is simply to regain the ball by either square/X or O/B while doing your best to defend your ground. The game also usually auto selects the player closet to the ball when the ball changes hands to the opposite team or chosen manually by choice with L1/LB on defense.
The more you play in FIFA Street with your team, the more experience you will gain by competing in events by doing tasks such as scoring, pannas or simply deking around defenders. Players will be notified after every event regarding level progress via a progress bar by each character who participated in the event. Players on the bench or not participating will also gain experience albeit at a lowered rate. Once you level up you’ll earn a smaller little ‘level up’ symbol - a green ‘^’ sign by the players name. Every time you level up you will gain ten (10) attribute points to distribute throughout your player’s various seven attribute categories (athleticism, defense, dribbling, goalkeeping, passing, shooting and speed). Depending on how you choose to distribute these points throughout your players progression, they will earn various specialization roles. Starting out at ‘balanced’ and branching out into varying types that sort of mark their importance to the team such as power finisher, keeper, playmaker and so on. You can also choose to spend attribute points on styles as well as new tricks for the player to learn, but it isn’t necessary. To say the least, the character and team development are some of the deepest in any sports game to date. And that is a plus for any FIFA fan. As you progress and defeate licensed teams from FIFA, or real street teams you’ll unlock the ability to have a key player join your team if you choose to. They’ll be unable to level up but will retain the base stats they were created with.
Online takes to the streets as you would expect and allows the usual ‘play now’/'quick play’ type of modes. But the bread and butter is the online head-to-head seasons where you can compete online in seasons with your team where ten games are equal to a season in fifteen different divisions for you to engorge in either 5v5 or 6v6 game types. Also available for online play are cup matches which reset every few days with a new game type to keep things fresh for players. Leaderboards are apparent in World Tour events and even in the online modes. Players can capture video at any point to show off tricks or incredible feats and upload them online on the fly. EA Sports Football Club makes a return and will contribute to your identity across all FIFA titles.
FIFA Street manages to hit all the notes on the gameplay side of things. Solid controls, addictive gameplay and a deep team creation system as well as a diverse World Tour mode makes for at least 8-10 hours of main mode football, and even more if you plan to level your team and take on the Gold standard. Graphically it is on par with FIFA 12, which is great, however the crowds seem to suffer and for the most part appear lackluster. The soundtrack is engaging and upbeat as you would expect any street title would be, something that makes you move your feet in tune with the almost graceful action of the players. All in all, FIFA Street stays true to the sport and crafts a near perfect street soccer title. FIFA Street as a reboot is better than any fan could have hoped for and one for gamers to enjoy for some time.
Final Score: 4.5/5