Reviewed: March 6, 2008
Released: February 18, 2008
2008 is the year for soccer games on Xbox 360! In the coming months we’ll get to play Sega’s Pro Evolution 2008 (March), EA’s UEFA Euro 2008 (April), and FIFA 09 (September)… and there are a few lesser known titles coming for the Wii and DS.
But my first soccer game for 2008 is FIFA Street 3 for Xbox 360. This is the first FIFA Street for next-gen systems. I’ve played previous Street games on the original Xbox and PS2 but that was a few years ago and FIFA Street 3 has been overhauled. In that overhaul most if not all of the game engine has been borrowed or re-written from the other street style “EA Big” games and FIFA 08. I really enjoyed FIFA 08 so I’m looking forward to some slick soccer action.
Your opinion of FIFA Street 3 is going to be determined by your expectations. If you are just looking for a quick arcade type unrealistic soccer game, you’ll probably like FIFA Street 3. But for people like me who want accuracy, statistics, realistic play, and everything that will bring back the memory of games gone by… you’ll think FIFA Street 3 is complete rubbish.
FIFA Street is basically a 5v5 small side game. FIFA officially calls it Futsal and they even have their own World Cup which the USA has done surprising well in the past 20 years. How many of you even knew we had a Futsal National Team? They primarily use players from what’s left of the once great Major Indoor Soccer League, so not many names you would recognize.
That said, FIFA Street 3 doesn’t follow Futsal rules as such. It is a street game so the rules are pretty much put the ball in the goal. It’s too bad because like regular 11v11 soccer, Futsal (aka “court soccer”) is hugely popular in other countries. Many of which would love a video game version of their game. Once again, EA has completely missed the potential of a game.
Even though this is a “street” arcade game, there is of course no fighting or leg breaking tackles. I’m sure FIFA wouldn’t allow it with all their sportsmanship and “fair play” politically correct nonsense. Somebody really needs to make a good next-gen hooligan soccer game. Midway had a game called Red Card a few years ago which was a lot of fun. It went along the lines of their Blitz and Hitz sports games. Those were the days.
EA could have really made a special game here. You could have created a player, started him out on the street playing all that is in FIFA Street 3, and then have him be recruited by youth teams for bigger clubs. There is potentially a whole career path for the player as he or she rises up the ranks to play for the National Futsal team. Instead we got a small fraction of what could have been. We got the street part and that’s all.
When you start up the game you get a choice of 6 play modes. “Play Now” obviously puts you straight into the action. There are only 18 National Teams to choose from, and 10 “Street Teams”. It’s a shame there are no club teams or leagues.
“FIFA Street Challenge” lets you test your skills against some street all-star teams with various themes. There are teams based on player characteristics such as “playmakers” and “defenders”, “stocky” and “veterans”. Once you pick your team you have to complete several challenges to unlock other teams. The matches have specific things to achieve such as “be the first to score 5 header and volley goals”. Don’t worry; it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Before long you’ll have most of the teams unlocked.
Then there is the “head to head” competition where you and a friend pick a type of game varying from timed games to total goals.
“Playground Picks” is similar to the dreaded school dodgeball game where you take turns picking players to form your team.
Xbox Live functionality is pretty basic but also a good source of fun. The console AI never really comes close to matching spontaneous real live players. Xbox Live play includes quick match, playground picks, World Challenge, and a custom match. Playing on Xbox Live was probably the most fun I found in FIFA Street 3. But again it basically comes down to whomever gets the most gamebreakers is going to win. It can get pretty frustrating.
The AI has been completely re-written which is a welcome change. But once again we have to judge a tree by its fruit, and overall the gameplay is incredibly boring. It’s made to be a quick game of soccer for people who just want to jump in and score a few goals. FIFA Street 3 succeeds at that easily. If you are looking for more than that, move on to FIFA 08.
Winning a game is pretty much determined by who can get the most gamebreaker powerups. It’s ridiculously easy to get a gamebreaker. Just do some tricks, juggle the ball, and on goes the gamebreaker. At that point it’s pretty much a guaranteed goal from anywhere on the court.
The animations are great. The over-the-top skill moves are fun for a while, but it all gets old quickly when after you’ve played a handful of games you realize you’ve done everything the game has to offer and your wallet is $50 lighter. There was so much potential for FIFA Street. It’s too bad EA decided to take the easy route.
The one area of praise I can give to FIFA Street 3 is in visuals. FIFA Street 3 runs at a nice smooth 60 fps. They used the same animation and rendering engine as in NBA Street: Homecourt. Which is a good thing – the graphics are certainly nice.
There are 7 courts to play your matches. Never one to deny sponsor money, EA has also provided 12 game balls from Diadora, Puma, Addidas and Nike. There are even some old style balls and a specialty ball for winter.
EA did something a little different for this version and converted the players to exaggerated superhero style cell animation. It takes a little getting used to… this isn’t FIFA 08. Instead it is an arcade style game with all the unrealistic ball physics and over the top player antics. It’s different, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s fun.
Going along with the “street” theme, the sounds are limited to what you would hear on a playground. So you get players taunting each other and just the normal environment noise. Teams are announced when selected, and players are announced when they score a goal.
EA Trax music includes 30 songs from all over the globe from all kinds of bands I’ve never heard of like Hexstatic. Hopefully no one chooses to buy their games based on included music tracks.
I grew up playing soccer and continued playing well into my 30’s. I love the game. I even have actual USA National Team Futsal games on DVD. But I just couldn’t make myself love FIFA Street 3.
I tried, Lord knows I tried. I played and played. I realize this is an arcade game, not a simulation. But the more I played, the more it felt like FIFA Street 3 is about one step above an Xbox Live game. There just isn’t much in the game to bring anyone back. FIFA Street 3 retails for $49.99 and EA should be ashamed of themselves. At best, FIFA Street 3 is a $19.99 game. It’ll get to the discount bin soon enough. There just isn’t enough there to justify paying anything more for a game you’ll play for a week.
FIFA Street 3 has 27 achievements available. The majority of the achievements are easy to get just by playing a handful of matches. The most difficult ones are just time consuming – like winning 25 ranked online matches.
I wish I could recommend this game to people. I suppose if you have kids that really like soccer and Mario Strikers is too young for them, FIFA Street 3 might be a good alternative. But for everyone else, I just can’t recommend this game. It’s just not very fun and has very little to set it apart from other games. EA really needs to take a look at what they are doing with this series.
Recently the head of EA spoke to a group of Wall Street analysts and spent a good deal of time talking about the downward trend of review scores for EA games. For him to mention game review scores in his investor presentation is unusual. But it’s also very telling of their priorities. I wish it translated to a better experience in FIFA Street. I’m glad I don’t have stock in EA. If they keep pumping out games like this, their stock will be worth about as much as FIFA Street 3.