Despite the growth of Electronic Arts’ FIFA franchise to the point where it’s almost as popular and ubiquitous as football itself, the spin-off FIFA Street series has never really managed to ignite the passion and loyalty of videogaming football fans in quite the same way.
While the games always found acceptance and appeal with a certain strata of FIFA fanatics, this audience was in no way big enough to qualify any of them as successes. So, while it’s slightly surprising to hear the company once again barking at FIFA Street to raise itself from its heated seat in the EA Sports dugout and start getting warmed up, discovering that, this time around, there’s a bigger commitment to linking the game more directly and cohesively with the genre-dominating main franchise comes as much less of a shock.
Developed by some of the same team that helped FIFA 12 earn such high praise – most notably creative director Gary Paterson – this fourth title in the FIFA Street series is looking to create a more authentic street soccer experience. At its core lies a reworked version of the FIFA 12 game engine, one whose framework still delivers unrivaled realism through its intricate animations and ball physics systems and its robust player impact engine, but has also been tailored to reflect the specific nuances of the urban game.
The emphasis here is on accurately recreating the range of skills and close control necessary to succeed in tight, small-sided matches on confined pitches. And while the headcount on the number of show stopping tricks and flicks has seen an increased from both FIFA 12 and FIFA Street 3, the specifically revised controls are equally important in capturing the flow to matches.
A new dribbling and ball control system, which members of the development team have likened to using the accelerator and brake on a car in a driving game, allows for replication of the quick, staccato pace to many possessions in street soccer. Stopping dead on the spot and employing some tight ball control to try and coax an opponent in to an ill thought out challenge before snapping past them in a Riverdance-style flurry of feet and barreling onwards towards goal is set to quickly become the norm.
FIFA Street’s newly found dedication to realism doesn’t end there, however. The game is also set to offer variety with a selection of some of the most popular forms of one-on-one to six-on-six matches from different countries around the globe. While the likes of Futsal and Panna may not be recognizable to all FIFA fans by name alone, as soon as they’re experienced in practice, their rules will quickly become familiar. And the cultural diversity is also set to extend to the styles of play you’ll encounter in the game’s roster of locations, with matches in London, for example, more physically intense than the skill-heavy contents you’ll experience in Rio.
With all the biggest stars in world football present and correct amongst the real-life players from over 100 teams, and compatibility with the EA Sports Football Club introduced in FIFA 12 to encourage you to keep playing both on and off line to keep leveling up, EA Sports really are straining every muscle to make FIFA Street a relevant and realistic game this time around. It’s a goal that’s definitely worth aiming for, and this FIFA Street reboot has the best chance of any title in the series to date of seeing a net profit.
FIFA Street is due to be released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Europe on 16th March and in the U.S. on 13th March.
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