Football might be the worldâ€™s most popular game, but in New Zealand it comes in second to rugby. Kiwi kids are hardly dumping down a couple of school jerseys to use as goal posts. But anyone that has been to a barbecue, had a few drinks, and ended up kicking a football around a tennis court will tell you just how much fun street football can be.
There are no throw-ins, no corner kicks, and play very rarely stops. It is the pure essence of football. It is this essence that FIFA Street 3 attempts to capture, and it makes it the perfect football game for the more casual fan.
Published under the EA Big brand, FIFA Street 3 is a loud and extroverted game. From the presentation to the gameplay, everything is bright, colourful, and in your face. Serious football fans looking for a serious football game need not apply; you will not find the droids you are looking for.
In terms of graphics, the game isnâ€™t technically impressive. However, the art direction definitely makes up for it. From the wonderful caricatures of famous football stars to the vibrant backgrounds that forsake the rules of conventional architecture, everything looks exactly as you would expect from the label that brought you SSX.
The sound also stands out as a highlight of the package. From the various EA Trax, which not only serve as a driving beat for the action but also manage to capture the international feel of football, to the subtle sound effects such as calling for the ball or laughing during a cluttered play: everything helps reaffirm that this is a fun, frantic take on the beautiful game.
And fun and frantic it is. Six-a-side madness in a closed arena, FIFA Street 3 captures what is great about football and sacrifices all the tedium. While the ball does occasionally go out of play, most of the time players will wall run or backflip off the boundaries in moments that always inspire glee â€“ and there are bicycle kicks aplenty.
Indeed, the game is about showing off. Performing tricks and juggles is as important as slamming the ball in the back of the net. With each trick, each drag, and each shot on goal, a power meter fills. Once full, a move known as a gamebreaker can be executed and teams go into overdrive mode â€“ accompanied with a snazzy artistic effect.
Gamebreaker doesnâ€™t live up to its name and break the game, but it does mean that simply sticking to the tried and true strategies of football will put players at a disadvantage. There are challenges where gamebreakers are not allowed, but for the most part it is an important feature of gameplay.
Itâ€™s true that the game lacks depth, but the true joy is found in kicking the ball around with little regards for the traditional rules of football. It is a football game for casual fans, and everything in the package reflects that. It feels more like an arcade game than anything.
However, FIFA Street 3 does have some rather prominent flaws. Firstly, there is no character-editing mode, which is always a disappointment. Secondly, the number of gameplay modes is woefully small. There is a quick play option, a career mode, a head-to-head mode, a practice mode, and an online mode.
Career mode merely sees various challenges cycled over and over and can be finished in a weekend by even the most casual of gamers. Scoring with headers or volleys only is fun the first few times, but against the computer it becomes a bit repetitive after a while. Even more disappointing is the fact that the difference between the other modes, bar practice, is at best trivial.
This means that the amount of life FIFA Street 3 has depends on one of two things: the amount of good friends you have to play it with, or however long EA decides to keep its servers running. Fortunately, the game is relatively lag-free, even when played with players across the globe.
With its bold artistic direction and its fun, refined gameplay, FIFA Street 3 is a winner for casual fans of the sport. Those looking for an in-depth simulation should look elsewhere, but if you want a fun virtual kick-around with mates, you need look no further.