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FIFA Street 3

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Written by DM on Tuesday, March 04 2008

The EA Sports “ BIG” division has always been able to take the basic primeval parts of a sport and make those characteristics stand out in the BIG versions of their sports games. It also has become one of EA’s most popular genres. Unfortunately, it is a bit hit or miss, because some of the games that receive the BIG title really have nothing over-the-top enough to be considered BIG, game feature-wise, that is. Hits like NBA and NFL Street and, of course, the granddaddy of the BIG genre, SSX, made gamers go “wow,” when the BIG label was young,. Lately it seems that “BIG” signifies only a lack of realism and game depth. This is, unfortunately, what happens when developers and publishers rest on their laurels.

All of this has led us to where we are today with this review, FIFA Street 3. The game does fix a lot of the errors of the last two games, but it still leaves us wanting in a few key areas. Well, maybe more than a few key areas. We think it is time for EA BIG to admit that the street-play dynamic and soccer/European football just do not a happy couple make.

For those who have never played a FIFA Street game before, there is certainly an appeal to putting some of the best footballers in the world together on a concrete pitch (field), and letting them just go to town. With the ball’s natural tendency to bounce on a hard surface, the trick and juggling possibilities are endless. FIFA Street has always taken advantage of this fact very well. It is satisfying to see a star like Ronaldinho perform a bicycle kick, hit the ball into a wall, get back up, head the ball into the air, and then use his chest to guide the ball to his foot, which he uses to put the ball away squarely in the corner of the other team’s net. On paper, this sounds like it would appeal to anyone, non-football fans included, and it would, if taken by itself. The pitfalls of the game are ever-present, though, and some are downright frustrating.

The first thing you will notice while playing FS3 is that there is no mode in the game that stands out as the game’s own. Most games have one mode that the developers have designd to highlight the game’s features and play options, and really sell the experience to the gamer. This is usually the “Career Mode,” or the “Mission Mode,” – you get the idea. This “game’s own” mode will usually represent the bulk of the playtime spent in the game. While sports games certainly have a bit less reason to include a mode like this, most have a season mode or a franchise mode that players can use to build an experience for themselves inside the title. The closest that FS3 comes to this is a series of challenges that the gamer can participate in to unlock the full list of players that start out locked. These challenges include tasks that are reminiscent of Xbox Live Achievements (score a hat trick, score a goal using a bicycle kick, etc.), and are, for the most part, more time consuming to accomplish than actually difficult. If you play enough matches of FS3, you will unlock most of the characters without especially going out of your way to do so.

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