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  • Reviewed on: Playstation 2
  • Also available for: Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo GameCube
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  • The Good: Even though it's only four-on-four, every team has an extensive 16-man roster.
  • The Bad: No on-line compatibility.
  • The Verdict: Great the first few times you play, but the game becomes very repetitive.
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REVIEW:

"Ronaldinho dribbles the ball up the pitch, crosses over, through the defenders legs, passes the ball to himself off the wall, the windup and ... GOOOAAALLL."

How many times have you heard the announcer describe that play? Probably many times - except for the part about the pass off the wall - but now you can control the action yourself with FIFA Street, EA Sports' new addition to its BIG series.

Ronaldinho graces the cover of FIFA Street, a game that gives soccer fans all over the world a chance to perform moves never seen before in other soccer games. This offensively driven game requires no talent in the backfield, and encourages players to embarrass their opponents.

The game is easy to master and it takes only a few matches to get the hang of the moves. But that isn't necessarily a good thing. Even though there are many combos, plus modifiers to do an extra set of moves by holding down the L1 button, after you play a few matches you'll notice that there isn't much more to the game.

It can be very difficult to play FIFA Street for an extended period of time simply due to the fact that other than the scenery, it seems like you are playing the same match over and over again.

Other than the exhibition matches and a brief tutorial, the only thing you can really do to entertain yourself is the Rule the Street feature of the game. You need to create your footballer and then hit the streets to gain money, experience points and a reputation among the greats.

The create-a-player feature in the game has many options aside from your facial features and body type. You can select from different types of hats, kits, shoes and accessories. You can also sport your preferred brand, with different types clothing companies such as Nike and Adidas to name but a few.

As you continue through your career mode, you gain skills bills to increase your player's attributes, a teammate's attributes, and get a chance to take on other teams to unlock the pros.

The graphics for the game are pretty well done, and fit the bill for an arcade-style game. EA did a good job making the moves look fluid, the player's faces are very realistic, and you should have no trouble in distinguishing players on all the teams.

The one glitch the game does have is that if you attempt to do multiple moves in a row, the graphics do falter a bit as the console struggles to keep up.

Your career starts off with a weak squad playing at venues that include a Marseille underpass in France, a dry and dusty pitch surrounded by a shanty-looking village in Rio de Janeiro. and in the heart of the Big Apple in the legendary NYC Dyckamn Park in Manhattan. As you unlock players and win tournaments, you move on to other parts of the world such as an abandoned train depot in London, England, a rooftop overlooking a stormy night in Barcelona, and a dirt patch in the outskirts of Nigeria's Largos City.

The game fields 16 of the world's top squads, including Brazil, Spain, Portugal and France, but also include some surprises like Australia and Korea. Most notably missing in action are the Dutch and Euro 2004 champs Greece.

Just as any other Street game in the series, this game includes the gamebreaker feature, but it comes nowhere near being as entertaining as it has proved in other EA games. By doing as many moves as possible and achieving high-count combos, your gamebreaker meter continually grows. Whether it's performing flashy moves around your opponents or showing off with some of the game's taunts, when you reach your gamebreaker, there's still no guarantee of a goal. In NFL Street for example, when you trigger your gamebreaker, you are almost unstoppable and can run the entire field performing moves at will. In this game, when you hit your target during a gamebreaker, your player just performs a harder shot.

And the creativity aspect of the reward is taken away in this game, unlike NBA Street where you jump several feet in the air and are given a chance to perform as many moves as possible before you reach the net.

The best feature about FIFA Street is the manual-aim icon. Once you reach the opponent's side of the court, a small net-shaped icon appears at the bottom of your screen with a small soccer ball in it. Using the left analogue stick, you can manually aim your shot as you deke out your opponents. It doesn't make it a sure shot every time, but it definitely gives you a lot more control over your player. Don't be surprised to see this feature in soccer games in the future.

The biggest downfall of the game is that you can't take on other soccer fanatics around the globe on-line, as you are able to do in the other Street games. Due to the fact that the game does get boring quite quickly, the on-line option would have salvaged a few more hours of game play. Competitive gamers can master even the hardest difficulty setting within a few hours, and since the computer gets very predictable, the need to challenge other players is a must for this game.

The game's soundtrack is rap, heavily influenced by many different cultures and languages. But none of the songs are catchy as some of the songs featured in the regular FIFA games made by EA.

John Motson and Ally Mccoist, the two commentators from the FIFA games, are also sadly missed, as MC Harvey from So Solid Crew makes you glad that TVs have the mute option. His voice gets annoying so quickly that it makes the selection of music actually seem decent.

FIFA Street is an entertaining alternative to realistic sports simulations, but when soccer fans pop FIFA 2005 back into their console, they probably won't even remember there is a copy of FIFA Street lying around. It's a good effort for the first instalment in what is sure to be an annual game with plenty to build on. But it is only worth renting once, maybe twice at most, and is definitely not worth shelling out money to buy. Real soccer enthusiasts won't think twice about kicking FIFA Street to the curb.