FIFA's urban spin-off is making a return under the stewardship of a FIFA series veteran. We went to see the game for the first time at Gamescom 2011.
EA's FIFA Street series has been on a short but noticeable hiatus, with the third game in the series having appeared way back in 2008. EA announced it would return at its press conference, and the new game bears all the hallmarks of a Hollywood-style 'reboot'. The title is just 'FIFA Street', and it's being handled by a brand new team. Notably, however, that team is being headed by the man credited for turning the main FIFA franchise around--creative director Gary Paterson.
Paterson's approach has been threefold--to build FIFA Street on the FIFA engine, make it authentic, and to concentrate on 1-on-1 battles. Using the FIFA engine was a no-brainer--it's been powering a series that has steadily been rising on the Metacritic ratings over the last few years, and it's one Paterson is intimately familiar with. Making it a more authentic experience is a bigger decision--the FIFA Street series originally began life on the EA Sports Big label, which was known for its over-the-top extremes.
However, it appears that Paterson is genuinely respectful of the sport of street football, which is why he's working on incorporating its many different forms. 5-a-side, 6-a-side and last man standing will all be making an appearance, as will Panna, in which the aim is to play the ball through an opponent's legs, and Futsal, which is played indoors. Wall play will therefore be an integral part of FIFA Street's gameplay for the first time, while there are also parks and gyms spread across places as varied as Shanghai and Dubrovnik--35 in total.
While FIFA Street isn't as stylised as it used to be, it boasts just as many beautiful special moves, played at a pace that even the best players in the world would struggle to match. There will be double the number of tricks of FIFA, with a much greater array of air tricks on offer. As you're always going to be facing the defender when on the ball, you'll also be able to perform skill moves in all directions, including moving away from the defender.
While it's only 50 per cent through development, FIFA Street looks like it's coming together nicely. It will include teams from all the major leagues such as England and Italy, and will boast "deep connected game modes and social features" upon launch, according to Paterson. Right now, we know it'll be arriving on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but we don't have a release date. Stay tuned for more as we get it.