|FIFA Street 3 (2008)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
As the sport of soccer continues to grow, so do the chances that a great soccer game will ever be made. Of course, that’s still probably a good few years away, but after completely retooling the “FIFA” franchise last year, the sports-obsessed nerds over at Electronic Arts certainly seem up to the task. Their latest success story is “FIFA Street 3,” and while past installments of the arcade soccer franchise haven’t yielded great results, the newest edition offers the style and attitude of street soccer without making it feel like a shallow button masher. Though the series still has leaps and bounds to make before transitioning into a must-have title, “FIFA Street 3” represents an excellent improvement in what could have easily been a soccer version of “NFL Tour.”
For those of you who’ve spent countless months perfecting your game in “FIFA 08,” it’s not going to be much help here. The control setup is fairly straightforward (A and X pass the ball, B shoots, Y juggles and RB drags), and though you can create some pretty cool combos by stringing together different moves, they can just as easily be done accidentally. That shouldn’t take anything away from the gameplay, however, which is made exponentially more enjoyable with the ability to perform wall jumps (no matter how useless) and bang assists off the walls.
Featuring more than 250 players from the world’s 18 best international squads, “FIFA Street 3” isn’t lacking in name recognition, but it is a little light on game modes. Still, while there’s no actual career mode to be found, EA BIG has done a commendable of keeping things interesting, with modes like: FIFA Street Challenge, a series of goal-oriented tournaments where you’ll unlock new players and teams; Playground Picks, an old-school setup that has you taking turns picking a team from a pool of 10 players; and World Challenge, an online-only mode where you’ll represent your country by taking them to the top of the table. Standard head-to-head matches are also available, and along with determining the winner by goals scored, you can also set up timed matches, and goal-specific matches that require the players to score so many headers, volleys or Gamebreakers.
Speaking of which, the Gamebreakers in “FIFA Street 3” are no longer controlled by God himself. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but let’s just say that you no longer have to worry about an opponent defeating you with a single shot. Instead, the Gamebreakers are only worth one point, and while it’s a lot easier to score when you’ve activated this ability, it’s not like you’ll have to depend solely on them to win games. Plus, even if you’re getting owned by an opponent who’s gone Gamebreaker crazy, you still defend against them; something that the makers of “NFL Tour” seemed to completely ignore.
Of course, like any arcade sports game, “FIFA Street 3” gets old fast. There aren’t as many tricks as the last installment, and while the simple ability to score goals with actual talent is a nice improvement, there’s no stopping you from eventually getting bored. The title gains some additional excitement when playing online or with a friend, but until EA BIG is able to figure out a way to balance the fast-and-furious fun with the strategy of the real game, the “FIFA Street” series will never be taken seriously.