The FIFA Street demo released this morning, with high expectations and many eager to see how far from the main franchise it has been taken.
Thankfully, the team behind the new game have stuck to what worked well in the past and proved ideal for the SSX demo, simple and arcade fun, whereas this sticks far closer to reality than the former.
With two demos in two weeks from EA Sports, one can only speculate on the busy schedule pushed to some of the developers in the very beginning of the year, something perhaps not used to in the sports genre.
However, both demos have demonstrated the core playability you can expect when buying the full title. That’s exactly what this game has done, almost like dangling a £40 carrot right in front of you.
FIFA Street has stripped it right back for this title, most noticeably dropping what would have been a ‘4’ from the end of it’s title, to presumably cut ties with the old imagining of the franchise and thrust the newest into the limelight.
With good reason too, this plays very differently to any of the previous games in the series. At the border of realism, FIFA Street takes place across 35 venues, with six leagues, 21 national teams and 12 special teams, a full World Tour mode (read: Career Mode) and the famous ‘arena’ from FIFA included, expect the full game to be near on limitless in the way of customisation.
On starting the demo however, I quickly noted that despite there being four tutorial videos, and the full in-game manual included, there was no proper tutorial. Besides these methods, there is no way to train and practise without trial and error in matches. This was frustrating, because this game’s controls are very different to FIFA Street games of old.
What I then picked up on was how similar the controls are to flagship FIFA titles, but was still struggling to teach myself that I was playing that game on a scaled down version. The left and right triggers are used to activate close control and sprint alternatively, as per usual, pass, cross and through balls are identical, bringing the keeper out is still possible; I could carry on.
Again, EA has focused heavily on the right stick to allow the tricks, pannas, and ‘air beats’ to take place, with combinations of other buttons to start juggles, and bait defenders. A succession of beaten defenders and a successful shot on target nets you a larger sum of points than a regular shot, though it isn’t clear what the extra points give you an advantage in. The objective at it’s core is to win with goals scored.
Of course, the pitch you get to play on is smaller throughout, but depending on which game type you play in, alters the size of the pitch. There are four main types, with five a side being the only option for the demo, but also bundled with Panna Rules, Futsal and Last Man Standing (think Dodgeball, but loss of a player when your opponent scores a goal) as well as being able to customise a match to your liking.
Also included with the demo is a chance to play the beginning of World Tour mode, including player creation and entering a tournament with a street team you create. It’s very customisable and all in all was one of the larger positives I have to say about the demo.
But all in all, a lack of online play even for the demo pulled it down a few notches for me. I would love to be able to play with any of my friends, but EA in this instance, are one of the few developers who are resilient to the fact that people have friends all over the world, and it is potentially very difficult to organise them all around one TV set.
This being topped off with the fact that as far as I’m aware, tricks really aren’t that necessary in FIFA Street, where they most definitely should be, and you have a solid game that plays well and has a ton of playtime behind it, but is overpriced for what it is.
It would be no harm to attach this to FIFA 12 as downloadable content for about £15-20, as it’s built on a similar engine, and the only new additions are the venues, extra skill moves and the new game modes, but not much else is added.
All in all, FIFA Street is a worthy reimagining of the franchise, but some simple things have taken it from a solid purchase to a fence sitting decision. It is definitely worth downloading the demo while you can, to see what you think, but if you’ve played any of the main FIFA games before this one, you will quickly see the similarities between.
Follow this link to add the FIFA Street demo to your Xbox download queue.