Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

FIFA Street 2

Style counts for a lot in soccer, which may explain why the sport has yet to catch fire in a meat-and-potatoes country like America. Since soccer doesn't feature a lot of scoring, one side's ability to put together certain moves and sequences means something, even if it doesn't amount to a gooooooaaaal at the finish. This "beautiful game" lives on (albeit in physics-defying arcade form) in FIFA Street 2, which offers rewards simply for dicking around. Produced in the style of EA's other Street games—with no set plays, just a handful of players and the freedom to improvise—FIFA has a plug-and-play quality that's fun, so long as scoring doesn't mean that much to you. Granted, tricky moves are essential to staples like NBA Street, but at least there are massive dunks at the end of the line. Here, there are times when the goalposts are just around for decoration.

Though the game functions best as a casual two-player shootout, single players will mostly occupy their time in "rule the street" mode, which puts you through various matches and skill challenges at playground pitches around the world. Of the four-on-four confrontations, "Kick Abouts" are the only option that approach conventional soccer, but tricks allow you fill up the Gamebreaker bar and unleash devastating strikes. Other games are about controlling the ball and wanking away on the right analog stick during every possession, whether it involves accumulating "trick points" or a pulling off a devastating between-the-legs move called a "panna." Sadly, in this case, scoring is just wasting a possession.

Beyond the game: In lieu of the slang-slinging announcer who mucks up other Street titles, FIFA opts for a somehow more irritating DJ who pipes up between songs. As Albert Brooks once joked, the three worst kinds of people, in order: incurable lepers, DJs, curable lepers.


Worth playing for: For a game where juggling in place can be as good as scoring a goal, one simple move stands out for its style and utility: A push forward on the trick stick flips the ball neatly over a defender's head and sends you to glory.

Frustration sets in when: Defending against tricks can be like a clumsy piece of physical comedy. When you aren't paralyzed, you fall flat on your face.


Final judgment: NBA Street 3 has unlockable Beastie Boys. This doesn't.

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