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JadeDragon's game reviews and playing tips: Nintendo DS games

FIFA Street 3 for Nintendo DS

Reviewed March 2008 by Edwin Kee

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Exient
Release Date: February 2008
ESRB: “E” for Everyone
Genre: Sports
Price: $29.99

I remember the original FIFA game on the PC - now that was one interesting title to play on a 486, and it was pretty easy going 11 up on your opponent due to the goalkeeper bug. Over the years, the FIFA franchise has evolved and virtually all consoles have had some sort of FIFA titles. The Nintendo DS is no different, and what we have here is FIFA Street 3 which turns your regular soccer sim into a more arcade-ish title. This is the sequel to FIFA Street 2 which wasn't exactly a surefire winner on the DS, and the 3rd title presents EA with a challenge to improve the series.

Many Americans find soccer rather boring: you score some very low points each game after running around for 90 minutes and no body tackle or horse-collaring allowed in the game? Well, there is a beauty to the game of soccer, and in order to increase the final score line, the art of street soccer was developed into a faster paced match which often resulted in some pretty high scores in the end. Of course, the ground where the battle is fought won't be in the Theatre of Dreams or at the Emirates, nor will the Bernabeu and Camp Nou be featured. Instead, the matches will be held just about anywhere on the street, where imaginary goal posts and lines are drawn up.

Goal!!!!!

While many other soccer games depend on the D-pad to get things done (as in, scoring goals or preventing them), the DS' touch screen certainly adds another dimension to gameplay as players have a choice to use that or the D-pad itself. Well, purists might still depend on the latter, but for those who want a new take on an old game will definitely find the former somewhat refreshing. Sure, for folks who have abused their touch screen to the rigors of Elite Beat Agents and Mario & Sonic at the Olympics might find that the sensitivity of their touch screen is somewhat degraded (or is it just psychological? I personally find my DS Lite's sensitivity failing me at times) and hence reduce the enjoyment of the game based on the touch screen alone. Still, it is pretty unique to see a soccer game take such an approach.

The D-pad isn't entirely useless in this game as you will still have to use it maneuver your player around (or using the four crisscrossed buttons on the right side of the DS if you happen to be a southpaw), with the stylus being utilized to perform all the tricks that soccer players hate on the pitch – ostentatious juggles, cross-overs as well as knee-bending runs that strikers love to perform while leaving defenders in their wake. Both passes and kicks are executed by tapping the touch screen in different ways, while shooting takes a simple stroke towards the direction of the goal, and I find that part pretty random as the ball doesn't always end up where I want it to be.

Unlike some of the other games, there is no visual feedback whenever you tap or stroke the touch screen, which can be disconcerting at times. It doesn't really matter that much though; as you get more familiar with the game you won't find the need for such reassurance. A Gamebreaker mechanic is also available in this title, where you stand a very high chance of pumping in a goal by tapping the lower screen at random intervals in order to execute it, robbing you some fun from the gameplay.

You will be able to compose a team consisting of four players – three field players plus a goalkeeper. Of course, you will be able to choose from all the notable players in the world today, ranging from Champions League finalist loser John Terry to Real Madrid-linked Cristiano Ronaldo, amongst a galaxy of stars. They all have different skill sets, but at the end of the day, especially for the beginners, it doesn't really matter because button/touch screen mashing works reasonably well. Skilled players can however fine-tune their game to win more matches however.

FIFA Street 3 doesn’t get boring even when you play match after match as the stats increase your Street Rep. Pretty much like leveling up your team, although this won't endow them with superhuman powers like in RPGs, only make them look good amongst their peers. Of course, part of this tediousness is to unlock other items in the game such as different jerseys, boots as well as playing locations.

Controls

I would recommend this game to right-handed players, as the button controls are much easier for them. And if you're a leftie like yours truly, I can tell you that you are in for a nice grind. The alternative game control is via the screen, and the screen sensitivity level makes a difference: older DS touch screens respond slower than brand new DS touch screens when playing FIFA Street 3. There are some combos that will take some time to remember, so patience is the key here. Random strokes of the stylus might reward you in a stunning victory over an equally inexperienced opponent, but when you're up against a seasoned campaigner, you'd be toast unless you master the controls properly.

Graphics

In-game graphics aren't anything to shout about and the developer chose to make characters and background simple and easy to see rather than cram in a lot of details. The variety of playing grounds does make the repetitive matches more interesting, but other than that the games graphics don’t provide us with much breakthrough. And in some ways that’s a blessing as you don’t feel things getting in your way of seeing and playing the game. While we don’t mind the simplicity of the graphics, we do wish the game had brighter colors instead of the dreary brown tone. If you’ve attended one big soccer match you will agree that the bright colors are part of soccer. The player's faces are detailed pretty well as caricatures, but those are not in-game graphics which makes it pretty hard to differentiate one from the other.

Sound

I can't complain too much about the sound, but the lack of a roaring stadium certainly takes away a huge chunk of the game. After all, soccer is all about the fans cheering on the home team and being the 12th man, but if you're duking it out on the streets most likely you'll have an entourage of fan boys and female groupies in addition to a huge chunk of gamblers hoping to make a quick buck on you. Let’s hear them in the game!

Conclusion

FIFA Street 3 is a much better release than its predecessor, FIFA Street 2, as it improves on a fair number of aspects. Unfortunately, this doesn't lift the game out of the doldrums of mediocrity. If you're wondering what soccer is all about, this isn't the game to pick. FIFA Street 3 targets the market that wants something different from the ordinary official soccer games, but it doesn't do much to warrant a “Must Buy” sticker – a rental for sure, but nothing more than that.

Tips & Tricks

− Make sure you memorize/master all the controls first before getting serious with the game, as it will add to the overall enjoyment.

− Increase the difficulty level if you find the game too easy, but ultimately human opponents is where it's at.

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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

Too brown and bland in color tones. Street soccer is supposed to be way more fun than the standard games played in stadiums, where scores can even go up to the teen levels between two entertaining teams. Unfortunately, the graphics do not convey this message. The in-game characters and background are easy to see.

Sound

Standard audio clips from the world of soccer – enough to get things going, but definitely insufficient if you're thinking of being fully immersed in a street match. There just isn't enough going on.

Fun Meter

The game is an improvement of the previous rendition, but doesn’t lift the series to a new level. The new locations and players will amuse the die-hard fans, but those who want to see more flare and style won’t be 100% satisfied.

Addictivity

Single player isn't much fun here, so I would strongly recommend multiplayer game. After all, playing with a human is way different from computer AI.

Total Score= 2.75 Dragons, 55%



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