Over the years, EA Sports’ many arcade variants of its leading simulation sports franchises have been extremely mixed in terms of quality. Some have been great, like the original NBA and NFL Street titles, while others, like NFL Tour and previous FIFA Street installments, haven’t been so hot. But this year EA pressed the reset button on the FIFA Street series and kicks it onto PS3 and Xbox 360 with a new approach to arcade video game athletics. Let’s see how it turned out:
There was a time when the concept of “arcade sports” meant wild, crazy and (often literally) on fire. NFL players jumped off alley walls wearing more bling than Flavor Flav. Second basemen, engulfed in searing flames, cold-cocked runners as they tried to stretch for a single. And point guards with heads the size of ripe county fair watermelons leapt 100 feet into the air to heedlessly shatter backboards into so many Plexiglas shards. We can still rock that last one—feel free to fire up EA’s NBA Jam: On Fire Edition if you’re so moved—but the rest have faded into arcade-sports obscurity. As the major professional sports leagues have embraced a type of brand management more tightly controlled than Will Smith’s movie career, the crazy has turned to cautious, and game developers have taken a hard right at the intersection of Realism and Arcade.
So it’s been on the soccer pitch. The last time we kicked the rock around in Electronic Arts’ FIFA Street series (2008’s FIFA Street 3) it was a hyper-stylized affair, with Fox Sports-like blue streaks trailing balls bicycle-kicked on goal and a meter that filled with every goofball move you pulled off, leading to a gamebreaker mode that almost always resulted in ridiculously athletic/easy goals. The new FIFA Street switches the field completely, putting the emphasis on the “Street,” but in a way the guys who start for squads in FIFA 12 would recognize and appreciate. This is a sim that approximates the kind of five-v-five scrum you’d find on the streets of Sao Paulo or at the local sports complex.