When it comes to the simulation of soccer there really is only two main companies in it, EA Sports and Konami Tokyo. They have year after year produced soccer games to try and take each other out and with varied success built up two very powerful franchises. EA has been branching out into an extreme style of sport recently with NBA and NFL Street. It seemed like only a matter of time until FIFA Street came along, especially considering street soccer somewhat exists. The game is only about five weeks away and we recently went hands on with a preview build to see what all the fuss is about, and boy has this title got game.
With the street format the developers have needed to make some drastic changes to the game otherwise known as FIFA. First of all only four players feature on each team, one goalkeeper, two strikers and a defender. In terms of game modes two will be on offer; exhibition and a street career mode. The exhibition mode will allow you to play two International teams of your liking up against each other somewhere in the world. It seems that all teams will be unlocked from the outset, but in comparison to FIFA, only the mainstream Internationals have been included.
The street career mode works a bit like the NFL Street career mode. You begin with a bunch of nobodies with no skill and as you progress through the various matches you gain skill to distribute amongst players and can gain better players by increasing the reputation of your team. The gameplay itself is quite challenging and really puts the right stick to good use. It plays just like any game of soccer except with a few rule changes but there are basically no rules. You can slide in from behind leaving a player on the ground in pain, kick the ball into the surrounding walls, in fact this is encouraged to get past players one on one and you can do almost anything to get the ball in the net.
The whole game revolves around the momentum of players. You can't really score a goal by running up and shooting at the keeper, that's not what this game will be about. Due to the fact all the players featured in the game are some of the best in the world, tricks need to be used. This is where the right stick comes into use. Depending on which direction you push, determines the trick. You can kick the ball over your head, loft it to a team mate, perform tricks with your feet and generally just confuse players. The game will also feature the now famous gamebreaker move to perform an almost unstoppable shot, even if the keeper gets it they will be on the ground for a period of time.
While the game has less individual teams than FIFA, they are somewhat editable. Each team may only feature four players, but EA gives you the choice of many more players to make up the squad. Of course this really comes into play in the exhibition mode with the International teams but also forms a major part of the main career mode. The players themselves look a great deal like their actual personas and it appears EA has fixed the problem of FIFA 2005 where they seemed to dull down the player looks and gave Pro Evo 4 the edge in that area.
Visually the game is looking superb and manages to keep up with the action. As mentioned before the players look like their real life persona and the animations are incredible. You can perform so many tricks that you can begin to trick yourself and lose the ball. The stadiums are not places like Wembley, instead replaced by street locations in the true sense of street soccer. Commentary is not a serious part of the game like FIFA, instead a man just calling out about the plays randomly during the action.
FIFA Street is EA's first crack at the BIG style for soccer and they seem to be well on the way to making a great game. The lack of Xbox Live may harm the game in the long run, so it will all come down to how long the career mode lasts but from what we have seen the game should be great. Look for it March 2005.