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Submitted by Chris Leyton on February 9 2005 - 14:55

Replicate the Nike commercials as we go 4 vs. 4 on FIFA Street...

As the FIFA brand continues to improve since its emergence from the wreck that was FIFA 2002, the debate as to whether Pro Evo still holds onto the crown or has relinquished its grip to EA continues to rage on; however recognising the popularity of the sport, and never one to pass a good opportunity, the EA BIG! Studio is currently putting the finishing touches to their own take on the worldâ??s most popular sport.

Taking obvious influence from the glamorous Nike and Pepsi commercials featuring an assortment of talent that would make even Mr Abramovich blush; FIFA Street takes the action to the courts as you engage in 4 vs 4 matches to rule the streets. EA have been quick to push screenshots featuring the likes of Ronaldo, Beckham, Henry, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, which should emphasise the â??sensationalâ? nature of the game; however as weâ??ve discovered from playing the latest build, FIFA Street offers something completely different to the popular FIFA franchise.

Focussing on individual skills and the types of tricks that you always attempted as a kid but probably ended up on your arse, FIFA Street naturally offers a more lightweight experience then its big-brother, although the chance to focus on the tricks rather then the tactics would hopefully offer a complementing experience to the FIFA offerings.

Sadly itâ??s hard to get a full understanding of what the final game will offer, as the preview build that weâ??ve received features numerous bugs, glitches and crashes that hinder progress through the game and understanding what matches have to offer; that said weâ??ve played through enough to get a handle on how the game plays, and those believing this to be a re-jigged version of FIFA will find themselves in for a surprise.

FIFA Street takes place in enclosed environments similar to the indoor modes that featured on FIFA way-back in the days of the MegaDrive and SNES. The game throws out the rule-book, so you can slide-tackle to your heartâ??s content and not have to worry about the offside rule or a red card. As weâ??ve said before the emphasis is on tricks and in this respect FIFA Street utilises the right thumbstick delights of the FIFA series, but definitely in a different manner. The focus is really on close-ranged skills and stringing them together into one combo which will hopefully result in a goal; doing so successfully not only grants you a goal but also mega-points which are used to build up your â??GameBreakerâ? gauge and to purchase new players and additional content.

Much like other Street titles, a fully charged â??GameBreakerâ? allows you to pull off an extremely powerful shot towards the goal, and carries on the over-the-top style associated with the series. If we had any complaints at this stage itâ??s that the trick system needs a little more finesse; the focus on close-control is commendable but at times it feels as though youâ??re flicking the right thumbstick and the triangle button with relatively little skill and knowledge, which can make the whole experience a little messy as you mistakenly give away possession and pull of moves that you didnâ??t intend.

Set inside closed arenaâ??s and taking in locations from across the globe, including the USA, Spain, Nigeria, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, UK, France and Holland, FIFA Street also throws up another difference from traditional football, in the form of using the walls to your advantage. Youâ??ll often find yourself penned down by an opponent, however a quick rebound against the wall can often be as effective as a carefully placed cross. This also ties in with the trick system, allowing you to score mega points and combos by flicking a trick against the wall and catching control again to sustain the combo.

The game does suffer from the pinball like nature of indoor football, so the lack of finesses coupled in with the frenetic pace does occasionally create moments when youâ??re recklessly pressing the buttons. Other niggles include the obscene length of time it takes to get up from a sliding tackle, one false move and youâ??ll find yourself screaming at the player to get off their arse, whilst the opposition take it up the pitch and highly likely to score because of it.

It must be noted that the build weâ??re playing is from a few months back, and so we fully expect tricks and general control to be tightened for the final release along with the elimination of the various bugs and glitches that reared up throughout our playtest. One particular area that needs improvement is the ability of the goalkeepers; admittedly indoor games often feature higher scores then the traditional game, but too frequently the keepers let in unbelievable screamers from the other end of the pitch. It can be satisfying to scream in a belter, but when it happens so frequently the end result just feels cheap.

The main bulk of the single-player mode lies in the â??Rule the Streetâ? mode, which challenges players to scour the globe, taking on the locals, developing your skills, buying new players and hopefully winning the various tournaments. You get to create your own player from the beginning and start out with a team of nobodyâ??s, but by winning games you can upgrade your playerâ??s skills and eventually entice the likes of Ronaldo, Beckham and Zidane to your team in the pursuit to rule the streets.

Again due to game crashes and glitches it was difficult to get an understanding of how fleshed out this mode is, but it certainly looks likely to provide depth to what is otherwise a style over substance experience.

Visually the game is shaping up nicely, with character models expectedly featuring a distinct level of similarity to their real-life counterparts, although it is strange to see players such as Beckham and Zidane dressed up in street clothing. One particular area where FIFA Street makes a major departure from the FIFA series is that of player animation; with the game focussing on tricks thereâ??s a lot more of variety on offer, including delicious nutmegs, rolling the ball around your foot, 360 spins and various assortments of volleys.

In-keeping with its BIG! heritage and the urban style featured throughout, the game features a â??Mockney-Cockneyâ? commentator which suits the game, but is highly likely to have you reaching for the mute button after only a few minutes into the match. Being an EA title, the game features an assortment of licensed tracks courtesy of EA Trax, which again suits the nature of the game but will come down to personal taste.

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