In every event you earn skill points for each trick you perform, which are totalled up at the end of the match and awarded to your players like experience. This levels them up, and at each level new tricks are unlocked, which makes matches much more than just a simple victory. Plus, you're given points you can assign to different player attributes such as passing, shooting, and athleticism. This lets you train some players toward specialist skills such as defending, or you can aim for a decent all-rounder. Some matches even let you poach a higher-level player from the opposing team, giving your squad an immediate and noticeable boost. Unfortunately, assigning attribute points gets tiresome, particularly when several of your players level up at once, so the omission of an automatic level-up option is annoying.
Groove is in the heart.
Also annoying is the amount of grinding you have to do in World Tour mode. Each event you win adds to your team's overall score, which gives you a place on a global leaderboard. Unfortunately, even at an early stage many championship events call for a high ranking, meaning you have to spend inordinate amounts of time repeating events just to gain points for your team and increase your level. You can increase the individual difficulty of each event from bronze through to gold to earn more points, but then they may prove difficult for you to win at all. You are at least given better rewards at gold level, with branded tops for your team on offer, while bronze usually nets you a shameful-looking pair of socks.
If you tire of World Tour mode, you can Hit the Streets and take part in exhibition matches in various preset modes or delve into the options and create your own custom mode. Up to four players can play on the same console, or you can take your World Tour squad online. Most of your time will be spent in Street Seasons, which consists of 10-game sets of five-a-side of Futsal matches, the aim being to get your team promoted to one of 15 divisions or simply try to avoid relegation. There's also a Team Play option, where you can take just your captain online and play with others on the same team. And if that's all too competitive for you, you can join unranked matches with your Xbox Live friends too.
Larger indoor pitches have ample room for six-a-side matches.
What's super-neat is that FIFA Street's online play ties in to EA Sports Football Club, meaning that any XP you earn in the game nets you rewards in other games, such as FIFA 12, and vice versa. The online mode is expansive, and helps make FIFA Street the most complete and entertaining game in the series so far. It's also the most stylish, with a slick presentation that makes menus easy to navigate and a sound design that captures the grass-roots feel of street football. The suitably gritty visuals capture the same spirit; the floodlit street pitches look the most impressive with their graffiti-splattered walls. Only a few infrequent issues with collision detection--where players seemingly run through each other--spoil it.
FIFA Street's brand of super-fast-paced football certainly isn't for everyone, particularly those who enjoy a slower, more built-up match. Nor is the steep learning curve to be overlooked. But to dismiss it completely would be a mistake. This is as authentic a street football experience as you'll find, with a passion and flair that make it an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable game to play. It's head and shoulders above its predecessors, with the new career and online modes ensuring you have plenty to keep you entertained, while EA's typically slick styling means your eyes and ears are in for a treat too. Give it a chance, and take your tricks to the streets: you need never again ask what a McGeady Spin is.