|FIFA Street 2 (2006)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube
In case you didn’t already know, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Fans take the rise and fall of their teams quite seriously, and it’s even been rumored that some countries have executed players (*cough* Brazil *cough*) that performed badly in important matches. It hasn’t been until more recently that the American public has begun to show a genuine interest in soccer, thanks in part to the National team’s last performance at the 2002 World Cup, but sometimes it seems like they just don’t get the allure of the sport. One such example can be found in the very production of Electronic Arts’ “Street” franchise, a more recent creation that works well with sports like basketball and American football, but fails to deliver any of the excitement of soccer. The second installment of the series, “FIFA Street 2,” looks more like a pixilated version of those stylish Nike commercials than an actual game, and in doing so, replaces things like finesse and skill for a grab bag of flashy tricks that most professional players rarely employ.
In fact, the game is centered all on tricks, with the importance of goal making relegated to a secondary role in winning matches. Instead of forming a strategy and playing around your opponents with carefully placed passes, “FIFA Street 2” has you plowing right down the middle with an arsenal of trick moves and powered shots. Performing tricks actually takes a little getting used to, with a majority of them being accomplished by holding down the left trigger and flicking the right analog stick in a specific direction, but after a few hours of practice, it’s a piece of cake to get around any opponent and win any match. The simplicity of the gameplay is due to a feature called the Gamebreaker, a sort of special (and usually unstoppable) shot that you can earn by unleashing several combos and tricks. It’s even possible to come back from a 0-3 loss by stringing together a few tricks while in Gamebreaker. If done right, you can earn up to four goals (yes, off just one shot), and send your opponent back down to zero in a matter of seconds. It’s incredibly unfair and makes mastering the game’s extensive trick book that much more important.
The majority of your time spent with “FIFA Street 2” will be in the game’s career-like mode, “Rule the Streets,” where you’ll earn the respect of your peers by creating a player and accomplishing a series of missions like first to three goals or first to score three Gamebreakers. This becomes incredibly boring after a while, and unfortunately, it doesn’t get any better. You’ll progress in rank and skill, even getting to form your own team of world renowned professionals, but the gameplay hardly changes, and you won’t feel like you’ve really achieved anything other memorizing a few key button combinations. “FIFA Street 2” is on the same level of a fighting game, and though it’s relatively fun for the first few hours, you’ll quickly discover how very little there is to do. This isn't soccer by any stretch of the imagination; not even for American gamers looking for a little extra kick in their, um, kick.