Are you ready for some football? EA connects on its first attempt at the arcade football scene.
Fans of arcade football have had little to cheer about since the demise of NFL Blitz. Now EA Big has released its own version, borrowing from the acclaimed NBA Street franchise. Featuring 7 on 7 football, players dressed in “hip-hop” garments and a lot of trash talking, NFL Street is sure to get your blood pumping.
The primary single player mode is called NFL challenge and allows you to assemble a seven man team and compete with the best in the league to earn player development points, logos, clothing and even new plays. There is also a ladder mode, which pits you against every team in the league. Assembling an appropriate team is crucial; you have a choice between weighting your players offensively, defensively or a balance of the two. Each challenge requires the player to accomplish a certain goal during a game against the computer. The goals start out easy enough, such as simply beating the opposing team, and get progressively more difficult, like requiring you to complete a certain set of moves or using only pass plays. Games are played without a time limit to a predetermined point total. Touchdowns are worth the standard six points and you can either run for one extra point or pass for two. There is absolutely no kicking in NFL Street. There are also no injuries, no penalties, and a limited play book. This shouldn’t suggest that NFL Street is simple, as there are a number of interesting play mechanics that you must master to beat the more difficult challenges.
The foremost of these is the gamebreaker. The L button is your style button and allows you to do all sorts of zany, “in-your-face” moves like waving your arms wildly while running with the ball, passing behind your back, or transferring the ball between your legs. As you play, these style moves fill your gamebreaker meter, which will make you unstoppable on offense or defense when used. This is a crucial dynamic which you will rely on heavily. You’ll have to use it differently depending on the score, the situation, and even the strength of your opponents’ meter.
The second mechanic is the flip-pass. While being tackled you can shovel the ball to the nearest player and keep your drive alive. It’s a simple and legitimate tactic which is taken overboard in NFL Street. The computer does this move relentlessly, and if you don’t learn to watch for it you’ll quickly find yourself in trouble. Of course, flipping the ball will often lead to a turnover. In fact, almost everything will often lead to a turnover. Your passes will be intercepted, your players will fumble, and you’ll lose the ball every time you’re hit in the middle of a style move. Fortunately, this applies to both teams equally and keeps the action lightning fast.
The controls operate much like the Madden games, and any veteran of those will be right at home with NFL Street. You can even set players in motion, call for a block, and call audibles at the line of scrimmage. In fact, many of the tactics of simulation football are found in NFL Street. Of course, it’s still an arcade game through and through. The hits are ridiculously hard, and it’s extremely satisfying to ram someone full–speed into a concrete wall.
The single player mode serves its purpose well, even if there isn’t the replayability of a full franchise mode. The multiplayer is where this game really shines, and if you have a few friends who play, you’ll have an absolute blast. You can choose what score to play up to, or even choose to have style points be the determining factor. Of course, the lack of online support for the GameCube leaves a little to be desired, but EA can’t really be faulted for that.
Although the idea of playing tackle football on concrete surfaces while wearing baggy pants and adding apostrophes to the end of every word may seem a bit silly, underneath it all is a very solid experience. Any fan of the arcade sports genre will welcome the coming of NFL Street, and even those more simulation-minded will enjoy some aspects of the game.