Soccer fans deserve better than this.
I can't believe I was actually looking forward to this game. I'm half Brazilian, and while I am a terrible soccer player, I absolutely love watching it. With the World Cup happening this year, you can bet I'll be at home or in bars rooting for Brazil and Team USA. So it was with great eagerness that I opened up FIFA Street Vol 2 and popped it in my GameCube. But, after the endless hand cramps, bouts with frustration, and white hot anger, I sadly realized there was absolutely no way to enjoy it.
Like the vast majority of EA sports games, FIFA Street allows you to create custom players and create an entire career for them. There are even a few gameplay options that allow you to play a quick game, or just stand there and perform tricks as you juggle the ball. This is all well and good, but it don't mean a thing with a bad control scheme.
EA has, for some ungodly reason, fallen in love with the second analog stick. In practically every game they release, they require massive amounts of time spent with it. FIFA Street is no different. In order to accomplish anything in the game, you must accumulate points by performing tricks with the ball. Once enough points are garnered from these tricks, your team gains a "gamebreaker." Gamebreakers allow you to either severely handicap the defending team or instantly win a game, depending on how many "battles" (using tricks to get by opposing defenders) you win. The problem lies in the fact that performing tricks on the GameCube C stick is maddening. The tricks often require full or half circles performed on the C-stick which proves difficult because of either the ridges around the c-stick, poor programming, or--more likely--a combination of both.
The sad thing is that's just one aspect of the controls, but in all fairness, it's also the basis of the game. There are other problems inherent in everything regarding the controls. The most blatant and egregious (aside from the stupid tricks with the C-Stick) is the slow response. This is an EA Big game, is it too much to expect fast action, kicks that feel powerful, and quick moves? Apparently, it is. It's like a funny prank pulled by the game,: some joker apparently slathered molasses all over the court, but you can't see any of it! Unfortunately, you still have to play through it and come to the horrifying realization that the game is pissing you off.
Now a word about the graphics. They're good. They're EA good. And I think that's the problem. We've seen it all before, and no one is bound to be impressed. While you can create custom clothes and designs that can be as extreme or hilarious as you please (I went with a tall, fat dude wearing Brazil's colors and a fishing hat), there's a lot of character missing from the game. This is all personal preference, of course, but how about some stylizing for these extreme games? How about mixing up the look and not going with such realistic designs? Overhaul the game, don't simply change the court and add in a few banal tricks here and there. When I remember a spectacular play, I don't simply remember the play, my memory is mixed with the adrenaline and joy I felt as it was happening. A mixture of creative art and sound design could mimic those memories perfectly. The gamebreakers attempt to accomplish this goal, but it simply comes off as feeling artificial and hollow. It's just not enough.
The actual sound design of the game (aside from the soundtrack, which I'll get to in a bit) also provides a feeling of emptiness. The hits, the tackles, the shots, the goals, they have no oomph. During the gamebreakers there's a generic heartbeat sound that's played when the game goes into yet another rendition of bullet time. And while it may induce some sense of an adrenaline rush the first time, it certainly doesn't sustain that feeling in repeated play.
I'm on a roll here, but I have to stop. There actually is something very good about the game. Normally, I hate EA Trax, but the music in FIFA Street Vol 2 is actually good. It fits the feel, flavor, and flair of soccer. Rather than going with the cheeseball rap or punk of previous games, there's hip hop mixed with a lot of latino style and a few Brazilian songs. Now, I know there are many, many countries in FIFA that play soccer, and I mean no disrespect to them, but Brazil rules. As such, Brazil's music earns the right to completely own FIFA game soundtracks.
I have reservations about saying that the game is awful, but FIFA Street cannot be recommended to any human being who plays video games with his or her hands and feels emotion. It's bland, boring, and frustrating--and once that kicks in, the only thing that will keep anyone playing is sheer tenacity. There's no fun to be found here, but this is soccer, right? It seems that denial can be powerful, indeed. I've got an idea. Let's pretend this is not a soccer game. Let's pretend it never existed. Soccer is pure and can have no blemishes.