Sunday, March 02, 2008

FIFA Street 3 for the Nintendo DS - A Review

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Football games on the Nintendo DS were a lackadaisical affair prior to the recent release of FIFA Soccer 08. I can't believe that I would be saying this but, EA seems to be carrying on the momentum with the new release of FIFA Street 3.

The game starts with you entering your name and selecting your "favourite team and player". World Player of The Year, AC Milan's Kaka is in the roster too amongst the likes of Ronaldinho, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Christiano Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas. This is something only EA can pull off, with their budget and all.

There are several game modes available, though they seem abit spartan. Game On is basically your normal single-match kickabout. Pick a home and away team, choose one of out seven locations, decide whether it is a Score or Time Game and whether there's any handicap.

The Street Challenge mode however, is a different kettle of fish. Here, you build your team around the player you chosen earlier in the start of the game, bringing the team from "Pretender" to "Legendary" status by completing Street Challenge events and earning Reputation. LOL. I just ripped that off the menu screen.

Basically you get to choose 3 other players to partner your player (in my case, Kaka). The trio consists of a goalie (of course, if else?), and two other players in other positions (defender, midfield, striker). The disparity between the 3 players and your initial player of choice is pretty obvious. In my case, Kaka, with a skill level of 90, will have to put up with teammates with the average skill level of 67.666667.

Like any self-respecting team, you get to pick a logo, and thats about it. Street Challenges will have you participating in Score, Time and Trick Games (I haven't gone through enough of the game to discover more). Score games are the more straightforward of the three, you win by scoring, but there are certain conditions to fulfill. Trick Games on the other hand will have you earn trick points as the win condition. Time games... win a match before a set amount of time.

Each win brings some reputation points and just maybe, some Team Chemistry points. Playing as a team earns you team chemistry points, and the more you have, the more reputation points you'll earn. So remember, there's no I in team, so get everyone involved. Apologies for the clich├ęd phrase.

A little bit on Tricks: Players perform tricks with the ball, by holding down the right shoulder button and pressing a combination of arrow keys. You'll be lobbing the ball over opponents (and getting to the ball as well), switch footing and misdirecting opponents in no time.

Stat freaks will be delighted and disappointed at the same time as even though the game dishes out table after table of stats right after a match, there's no way to access a summary of the data once you are back in the Street Challenge main screen. I love them numbers too EA BIG!

One concern for players in general is that match objectives, which can border on numerous, are not shown during a match itself. The touchscreen is basically blank slate devoid of stuff, except for some indicators to help you with performing tricks. You end up breaking up the flow of the game by accessing the Start menu screen to find out the match objectives. I'm definitely not BIG on that.

Bad stuff aside, this game looks pretty. The combination of the DS' small screen, small arenas and 3D graphics makes the game something to behold. Player textures are a bit washed-out and the current player indicator maybe a little less obvious then what gamers are accustomed to, but hey, this is one pretty DS game.

Like any other EA title, the soundtrack doesn't disappoint. There are not many songs due to the limited capacity of DS carts, but it does sound like a FIFA game alright.

Multiplayer options abound, with WFC connectivity topping up the list of options which also include local Multi-Card and Single-Card Play. Get into a kickabout with a friend (using Friend Codes) or have a quick match with a stranger through the Quick Match option.

I didn't really had much expectations for FIFA Street 3, but EA BIG managed to deliver a positive mixed bag of stuff. Would I get this game? I would. And should you? Yeah!

FIFA Street 3 is currently available at Play-Asia. Click here for purchase details.