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DS  header logo

FIFA Street 3

For: DS

Jumpers for goalposts

Product: FIFA Street 3 | Developer: Exient | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Format: DS | Genre: Sports | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
 
FIFA Street 3 DS, thumbnail 1
Poor old Peter Crouch. Not only does he have to suffer the indignity of possessing an unintentionally amusing surname, but his appearance on the cover of FIFA Street 3 – a moment that for most professional footballers should represent a career high watermark – is marred by the fact that his video game alter ego looks about as graceful as a giraffe with piles.

You see, EA has decided against furnishing the game with photos of everyone's favourite footballing stars and has instead opted for amusing, distorted caricatures. So Italy's Gennaro Gattuso looks uncomfortably like a Neanderthal brute, Spain's Raùl has a conk that Pinocchio would be proud of and the aforementioned Crouch… well, let's just say that we sincerely hope he doesn't have hang-ups about the way the world perceives his impossibly gangly frame.

It's fair to say that FIFA Street doesn't take itself too seriously. The series has been happily juggling balls in the shade of the traditional FIFA brand for a couple of years now and is much less concerned with statistics and tactics; the world of FIFA Street is focused on skilful play and offers a multitude of soccer-related trickery designed to help players earn the esteem and admiration of their rivals.

Ultimate success isn't just based on winning a match; if you manage to humiliate a rival team with a cricket-style score line, execute plenty of deft touches and don't concede any goals then your 'Respect' rating skyrockets. And as your reputation grows, so do the numbers of options available to you.

Given this preference for flair and fancy footwork, there's little shock in learning that the bulk of FIFA Street 3's play mechanics revolve around extravagant displays of footballing proficiency. Shimmying around opponents, juggling the ball, effortlessly volleying difficult passes – it's all here, and these moves are thankfully straightforward enough to access once you learn the necessary button combinations required to perform them.

In fact, control is one area in which FIFA Street 3 is a pleasing success. Using the traditional D-pad and buttons grants a fine degree of command over the onscreen action but the innovative touchscreen interface is unquestionably a far more intriguing proposition.

Those of you that have experienced the sublime stylus-driven system present in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (given the astonishing quality of that game we imagine that's most of you) will already know how much latent potential is present in the oft-abused DS touchscreen. FIFA Street 3 excels with a thoroughly well conceived application of the technology. For example, passing is merely a case of tapping the player you wish to receive the ball and shots are executed by drawing a line in the direction of your opponent's goal.

Given the vast array of different tricks you can perform, the stylus interface is surprisingly robust, although as is often the case with gesture-sensitive commands there are naturally moments where your movement isn't recognized successfully; mercifully these are few and far between.

Whichever control method you decide you're most comfortable with, it's unlikely that you'll become frustrated when guiding around your team of soccer superstars. Controls aren't an issue with FIFA Street 3, fortunately.

Unfortunately, however, there are other problems.

Despite the inclusion of dexterous trick play and the compelling 'Respect' system, the game is ultimately dull and repetitive. While the developer has at least attempted to move away from the tried-and-tested blueprint of entering cups competitions or leagues, the Street Challenge mode still boils down to just playing lots of different teams.

Even the core principle of the game is flawed. It's far too easy to run rings around opposing players and the punishment for fluffing a particularly cocky Cruyff turn isn't anywhere aggressive enough. In short, there's no real risk to being arrogant on the pitch and this robs the game of any challenge it might have possessed.

In addition, scoring goals is an annoying illogical affair: perfectly good shots fail to get past the goalie yet weak, inaccurate punts seem to sail into the net with worrying regularity. The chance of successfully bagging a goal is also determined by how many tricks you've performed prior to the fateful kick, which swiftly causes matches to deteriorate into a few seconds of mischievously juggling the ball around before heading in the direction of your opponent's goal. Tactical play isn't really on the agenda.

The lack of an in-game referee may sound gloriously liberating, but it transforms FIFA Street 3 into an unfocused, infuriating mess. It's intensely frustrating to see your combination of crowd-pleasing manoeuvres end abruptly when a rival player shoulder-barges your wily centre forward to the ground. It's actually curiously at odds with FIFA Street 3's ethic of celebrating talent and ability above all else.

FIFA Street 3 desperately tries to claw some approval back with excellent wi-fi multiplayer options and some agreeable visuals and animation, but the aforementioned grievances sap away much of the potential enjoyment offered by the concept.

There's definitely mileage in the idea of 'fun' versions of FIFA, but after three attempts (this being the second on Nintendo's DS), EA is still no closer to creating a game worthy of that immense promise.
 
FIFA Street 3
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 14 March 2008
The FIFA Street idea has potential but unfortunately the execution is disappointingly sloppy. If you desire soccer entertainment on your DS, we recommend you stay off the streets and pick the standard-issue FIFA instead
 
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