NFL Street Review (Xbox)
“NFL Street” is the first edition of what will likely become another yearly series by EA Big. This high octane, hard hitting, showboating game tweaks the NFL rule book to come up with a game that’s focus is fun and tosses EA’s “Madden” football style aside.
This is the heart of the game and “NFL Street” doesn’t disappoint. Anyone who’s played any other football game can almost instantly step in to play “Street” with little to no learning curve. “Street” has its own set of controls which differ from the current games on the market, but give you a similar feel to “Madden” with a few small changes. The right trigger will give your player a temporary speed burst, while the left trigger is used for “Style”. Used in conjunction with the right thumbstick, players all start acting like Terrell Owens – and that’s a good thing in “NFL Street”. The more “Style” points you get, the better off you’ll be.
The developers apparently created this game with the belief that kickers aren’t real football players - so you’ll have to go for it on every fourth down. There’s no punting or field goal unit to come out when your offense has shamed themselves by not being able to get the job done. Even after a score, you’ll have to run the ball into the end zone for one or pass it back in for two.
“Street” has a playbook small enough to memorize, yet with enough variation that you can call nearly any play imaginable; from the flea flicker to the quarterback option. The option is particularly effective (and fun); as the user can tap the Y button at any time to pitch to the nearest teammate.
I think it comes as no surprise to anyone that the gameplay is a mix between “NFL Blitz”, “Madden”, and “NBA Street”. However, what sets “NFL Street” apart from its competitors is the ability to build your own team. In “NFL Challenge”, you’ll create seven players and improve them as you defeat challenges and other NFL squads. In the “Quick Play mode, you’ll draft seven players from 40 different random NFL pros. Regardless, you can tailor your squad to best suit your style of play. Players play offense and defense – something to keep in mind when building your roster. Should you stack your team with offensive players, defensive players or a mix of both - and just what will you do with your QB while playing defense?
The graphics of “NFL Street” are truly beautiful and add a great deal of depth to the enjoyment of the game. There are eight fields - one for each NFL division, and each has their own unique look; including different weather conditions and interactive objects on the field, from beach balls to trash cans or even the occasional fruit basket laying in the middle of a courtyard. EA Big really stepped up the player faces for this game; every player looks like their real-life counter part in a cartoon-ish way. You’ll see the stubble on Charles Woodson’s face and the birthmark on Drew Brees’ cheek. It’s obvious that a great deal of attention went into making the players look real; while over emphasizing some of their facial features to help add to the exaggerated feel of the game. It’s a shame there aren’t more cut scenes, however – you’ll see the same ones repeating over and over - which will lead to you quickly skipping through them. The lack of a truly interactive replay feature is disappointing, too – it robs the player of another opportunity to see the gorgeous (and often hilarious) graphics in action.
Simply put - EA could have done better. The on-field chatter is good; although a tad repetitive. The sound effects are great - when a player bounces off a chain link fence, you’ll hear it. There are different background noises on each field, from car alarms and screeching tires in New York to the humming of the neon sign on a rooftop in Atlanta. While EA does allow you to take advantage of Xbox’s hard drive, and allows the player to use a custom soundtrack in the menu areas; you’re not able to hear your custom sound track during the actual gameplay – but instead, there are generic background tracks. While it certainly allows you to hear the players talk trash, as well as the great environmental sounds, but even they can grow old; and I find myself wishing for some of my custom soundtrack’s music in the background.
“NFL Street” is one of the prettiest sports games that I’ve ever seen, and has great gameplay to boot, but unfortunately, it comes up short in replay value. It’s not a game that will hold your interest for more than a couple of weeks. The challenge mode is fun, but once that’s finished; there aren’t many other options (besides starting over) as far as single player gameplay is concerned. Unless you have numerous friends to play against, it may be worthwhile to rent it first. Hopefully for the sequel, EA and Microsoft will be on the same page, and we can all get to enjoy play on Xbox Live - which would no doubt add tons of life and replay value to the game.