Currently there are four soccer games on the PlayStation 2: Konamiís Winning Eleven, 989 Sportsí World Tour Soccer, and EA Sportsí FIFA Soccer and FIFA Street. All but FIFA Street attempt to recreate a realistic portrayal of the game, meaning there are 11 players and no funky things going on with the ball physics. Street, which is produced by the same EA Big company that launched SSX, NFL Street and NBA Street, bears a similar look and feel to its counterparts. The soccer genre is not unaccustomed to an "arcade" game, as Sega released Soccer Slam in 2002. But Soccer Slam, which received mediocre reviews, stocked in its game fictional players that looked like they belonged in Jak & Daxter; whereas, FIFA Street has in it real players from Argentina to South Korea to America. And, unlike Soccer Slam, Street has a four-on-four game, instead of three-on-three. In terms of sales, FIFA Street has performed quite well, ranking as the No. 1 selling game on some charts.
Presentation/Graphics : 71
The player models lack the detail seen in both FIFA and Winning Eleven. That is an unacceptable quality gap because Street has much fewer players. The models look like they are from the first NBA Street, which was released in 2001 when the PS2 was first released! What saves the gameís aesthetics are the beautiful environments surrounding the soccer fields. You will play in 10 areas across the globe, from the dusty back-alley streets of Rio de Janeiro to the city outskirts of Nigeria to the Nikeplein Court in Amsterdam. Iím not sure what a native of the countries would say about the accuracy of the environments, but they are nice. The number of soccer balls and player equipment is vast. The animation set introduces to gamers dribbling moves, feints and kicks that occur rarely
Presentation/Audio : 62
This is the weakest area of the game, especially the play-by-play commentary. Unlike NBA Street where the announcer brings a lot of energy, by acting like a fan hollering on the sidelines, the commentary for FIFA Street is a name repeater. X player scored a goal. Y goalie made a save. His comment after a blowout game: "This wasnít even close to being close." The soundtrack attempts to provide the same type of international flavor the locations do.
Interface/Options : 77
The game modes are skimpy, as you can play an exhibition or the Rule the Street mode. In RTS, you travel to different locations and challenge local teams and play in tournaments. The goal is simple: accumulate points for your created player or unlock stadiums locations. Once you juice up your playerís wardrobe or add enough players to your roster, the game fades out in terms of relevance.
Gameplay : 86
This first sentence is important: FIFA Street is not Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution Soccer -- nor does it try to be. That means the standards in looking at each game are not the same. If I were to hold both games up to the same lens, it would be the culinary equivalent of comparing McDonaldís to a meal made by the Iron Chef. FIFA Street has its flaws, even for an arcade sports title. The breakneck speed that has made NBA Street (and to a smaller extent NFL Street) a perennial hit doesnít cross over to FIFA. You get the flashy moves, but the control set-up makes precision of such moves difficult. Unlike Street where you can dictate your move based on what shoulder buttons you press, FIFA uses either the triangle button for a random trick or the right analogue stick. Now wait. The instruction manual lays out 40 or so moves at your fingertips. Ahh, yes, but itís all based on your ability to tilt the right analogue stick at the precise 27 degree angle. The difference between holding the stick to the far left to one that is far left and slightly up results in two different moves. Itís not that a certain move counters a defensive position, but the ability to pull off a certain trick when you want to is critical for a game based on flash and dazzle.
The basic controls are simple enough, X is pass, circle is shoot, triangle is the random trick, and square is a lofted or driven pass. The shoulder buttons augment tricks or dekes. The D-pad allows you to taunt your opponent. The problem begins and ends with the imprecision with the right analogue stick but continues with the slowness of players. Even on the Super Hard game mode, players have such poor reaction that you would think they were playing with blindfolds! The ball will often roll across the ground as players plod toward it. This isnít the fast-paced soccer action weíve grown accustomed to. Still, the game has gained popularity because it lacks the main cogs of real soccer: patience, quick passing, team work. FIFA Street has emphasized a style of soccer that actually is similar to basketball.
The passing system sucks, so the natural tendency is to advance using one-on-one moves. In that regard, EA was smart by throwing all of its energy into this one area. I think that is why the game has gained strong sales here, because it doesnít have a steep learning curve as in WE/PES. That said, the gap between the supremely talented players like Brazilís Ronaldhino and Ronaldo, Englandís Rooney or Spainís Raul, and the lesser ones, from Australia or USA is huge. The gameplay bogs down when you can not pull off tricks and jet past the players. Speed is not a key component in the game.
But even if you burn past the defender, you are still subject to a slide tackle. Normally thatís a red card, but in FIFA Street the only reprimand is a small deduction in trick points. Gamebreakers are handled in the same way as in NBA Street, as you pull off dribbling moves until your meter fills. However, there are no double Gamebreakers and a goal is not guaranteed once you trigger it. All you get is a stronger shot that either scorches past the goalie or knocks over an opponent. One side note about the Gamebreakers is a useful COMBO meter that will let you visually see how many moves youíve linked together.
Once youíre ready to take the shot, sliding a shot past the goalie is difficult as they snatch most shots that come their way. One-timers and headers work better than dribble and shoot, but this is where the quirky ball physics look worst. Many times the ball suctions to the goalieís hands.
Replay Value : 78
While the single-player mode is unexciting, the game does have multi-player potential. The stuffiness of the individual moves detracts from the "embarrassment" factor of making your friends look bad, but for mild soccer fans the similarity to street basketball might be a strong point.
Overall : 72
If EA Big can improve the reaction time and make the dribbling moves more fluid, FIFA Street could accomplish its goal: becoming the NBA Street on the pitch. But this first year version is marred by a lack of game modes, camera angles (low, medium, high), and poor A.I. Still, the ability to pull off bicycle kicks and wall passes with real-life players from a dozen countries provides some cheap entertainment from WE/PES or FIFA.