FIFA Street 3 Review (Xbox 360)
The FIFA Street franchise is attempting a series reboot in its third form; but, unfortunately much like past versions of the game, FIFA Street 3 fails to fully capitalize on the “street” soccer experience.
The Goal of “Arcade” Games
My belief is that an arcade sports videogame should be simple to pick-up but hard to master. That’s probably an important feature for all games, but arcade games and fighting games in particular must meet this requirement in order to stay in my gaming rotation.
The lack of depth was one of the many reasons why I thought NFL Tour fell flat, but FIFA Street 3 fails in the depth department for an entirely different reason. In this case FIFA Street 3 does have depth, just with the lack of a proper pay-off.
Usually in a good arcade sports game you start to figure out better counters or moves by coming up with deeper strategies or more complex or better timed button presses -- simply not the case in this Street game. Instead FS3 is completely backwards because after an hour or two of on the job experience, you will realize a single button press is your best bet to achieve victory…Yes one button.
That single button is the Y button, or what I like to call the win button. On offense the Y button will allow your virtual footie star to juggle the ball in mid-air. There’s no timing involved to keep the juggle going, just continually press the Y button and the juggle continues. This is far and away the most effective and efficient way to build up your gamebreaker meter, as well as the easiest way to avoid losing the ball. And that’s a real shame because while playing the game you really can tell how much time was put into making the hundreds upon hundreds of trick animations look and transition so smoothly.
So while FS3 games should be about style, efficiency trumps looking cool -- especially online or versus friends.
Go Away Gamebreakers
There’s an even greater impetus to use the Y button because scoring is limited in soccer, and using a gamebreaker is the easiest way to score. Now perhaps I’m in the minority, but I think it’s time to move away from the gamebreaker mechanic in these Street games because it’s an arbitrary mechanic that has overstayed its welcome Specifically in FS3, gamebreakers completely ruin the flow of an intense match-up. Besides that fact though, you should want to pull off moves in the game to avoid the defense and because they are fun to do not because it fills up a meter.
Then again, outside of the dribbling tricks creativity is lacking a bit. For example sometimes I want to pass the ball to myself off a wall to get around a defender, but that’s simply not possible. The same goes for wanting to try out various passes or crosses -- there really isn’t an abundance of variety in these departments.
But that pitfall is partially tied into the somewhat unresponsive controls. On multiple occasions you will find yourself wondering why your player made a pass when you clearly were pointing the analog stick in a different direction.
It’s a Shame…
FS3 fails to deliver proper depth on and off the pitch because the art and especially the sound design are top notch in comparison to other arcade sports titles out there. Beyond just EA Trax everything within the varied arenas makes the right sound. Bang a ball off a huge metal container or kick some guy in the shin and you’ll hear the right sound; or play as the various international teams and listen to them chatter amongst themselves in their native tongue (maybe it’s just gibberish, I’m no polyglot after all).
So What’s the Verdict?
I find soccer to be at peak excitement when both teams are being creative throughout the match and countering consistently during the match. So imagine the polar opposite of a typical Serie A match and that’s what I find exciting. Furthermore, an arcade sports game should try to embellish and exemplify a sport’s more exciting moments, which FS3 does not pull off often enough.
Graphics: The washed out art style and exaggerated player models fit the game quite nicely. Somebody needs to give Peter Crouch a cookie though. Also with so few real players in the game, it should be a bit easier to tell most every player apart.
Sound: The EA Trax and the in-game sound effects really add to the immersion of the game experience.
Entertainment Value: If you’re playing the single-player portion of the game you’ll be bored within a few hours; there’s no career mode, just a series of repetitive and dull challenges which unlock various teams. But you should be playing this game for multi-player anyway.
Learning Curve: It still should only take a match or two to understand the core mechanics and controls. The one odd part is there are 3 buttons for defense (slide tackle, conservative or auto tackle) and none of them work very well.
Online: The gameplay online is mostly lag free. There are a good amount of modes to choose from, including a world challenge mode where you pick one of the 18 international teams and compete worldwide to try and make your chosen country number one on the leaderboard.