When FIFA Street was released in February of 2005, the game boasted far more style than it did substance, offering a gameplay experience that was as flawed as it was flashy. Nevertheless, when we reviewed FIFA Street we alluded to the fact that we'd very much like to see its problems addressed in a sequel at some point. Now, one year later, EA Sports Big has done just that. FIFA Street 2 is far from perfect, but it improves upon its predecessor quite significantly and can be enjoyed solo or with up to three friends.
FIFA Street 2's controls are equally good on all platforms.
Like the first game, FIFA Street 2 sees you taking control of a four-man soccer team and competing against similar teams composed of both fictional street players and recognizable stars of traditional soccer from all over the world. You'll beat your opponents not only by scoring goals, but also by humiliating them with beat tricks, ball juggling, and taunts at every opportunity. The controls for all of these moves are surprisingly uncomplicated on all three console platforms, and the fact that no console's controller noticeably outperforms another's is definitely noteworthy. The PlayStation 2 controller's large number of well-placed buttons is the most naturally suited to FIFA Street 2's large number of moves, but we found that the GameCube's right analog (or "C") stick made performing high-scoring tricks while juggling the ball slightly easier than on other platforms. The Xbox controller is a jack-of-all-trades where FIFA Street 2 is concerned, but worthy of a mention is the fact that EA Sports Big resisted the temptation to employ the badly positioned black and white buttons.
One of the reasons why FIFA Street 2's controls are so intuitive is that the right analog stick is used so well. When you have the ball in your possession, flicking the right stick in any direction will cause you to perform a trick in that direction and, when applicable, to try to get past an opponent while doing so. Pushing the right stick up, for example, might flick the ball over an opponent's head, while pushing the stick down will often result in a nutmeg--the most humiliating of all beat moves, which involves putting the ball through an opponent's legs. The nutmeg is known by many different names around the world, and like many organized street-soccer contests (and the whole of Holland), FIFA Street 2 often refers to the move as a panna--a Surinamese word that literally means "to destroy." In the aforementioned "Panna KO" contests, putting the ball through an opponent's legs is enough to win a match, regardless of how many goals have been scored. FIFA Street 2 doesn't place that much emphasis on any single move, but it is possible to win a match at any time using the new and improved gamebreaker system. When your opponents have the ball, you can use the right analog stick to perform sliding tackles and, if you push it in the right direction at the right time, to counter their beat moves.
Goals don't always count for much in FIFA Street 2.
FIFA Street 2 boasts a number of different match types, and you'll have to master all of them if you want to progress through the game's "Rule the Street" career mode. Some matches will simply task you with scoring more goals than the opposition, but others focus entirely on trick scores, award you points for nutmegs, or count only gamebreaker goals. Gamebreaker goals can only be scored after you've performed enough tricks to fill up your gamebreaker energy bar, and beating opponents en route to said goals will increase the number of points that they're worth and even subtract goals from your opponent's scoreline. Lose possession of the ball during a gamebreaker, though, and all of the tricks that you performed while filling up the energy bar will have been for naught. This risk-versus-reward system works extremely well, although the fact that you can cancel out goals scored by the opposition means that a match you might expect to last around five minutes can easily last a lot, lot longer if the two teams are evenly matched.
The first thing you'll have to do when starting a career in FIFA Street 2 is create a player for yourself. The editing tools available to customize the player's physique and face are quite comprehensive, and you'll also find lots of licensed clothing to choose from. You'll have a finite number of "skill bills" to spend on your player's speed, shot, tricks, defense, and power attributes at this point, but you'll earn more every time you play. The tools that you'll use to customize your team's home pitch are far more limited, unfortunately, comprising only a very small number of aesthetic options and none that impact the size and shape of the playing areas or goals, for example.