EA Canada’s FIFA Street reboot brings authenticity to series

When FIFA Street launches next month, it’s going to look and play like a much different game than its predecessors. That’s because it’s a reboot with a renewed focus on realistic street football action, and in many respects, an answer to fans’ requests.

FIFA Street represents a more authentic approach to the non-traditional 11-v-11 sensation that is street football. Whereas past entries in the series focused on more cartoon-inspired graphics and an arcade approach to the gameplay, the latest entry runs on the FIFA 12 engine and features “plausible” gameplay and environments, said Producer Sid Misra, in an interview with PSU. 

“A lot of people have really latched on to the core gameplay,” Misra said. FIFA Street focuses on a more cat and mouse approach to matches, with player humiliation front and center. This is vastly different to EA Sports’ other football franchise, which sees teamwork front and center. “Football fans want another way to play.”

A big part in the evolution in this series comes from the new development team. A new team at EA Canada has taken helm, led by creative director Gary Paterson, and with it comes years of experience from FIFA. Misra explains that the older games in the FIFA Street series were lacking in the core mechanics, like foot planting, proper physics, and the ball not feeling attached to your foot by a string. The FIFA 12 engine was a great starting point to refine that core gameplay.

“Now we needed to make it feel like a FIFA Street game,” Misra said. The controls work a bit like a racing game, with the left trigger acting as a lock to slow the player down, and the right trigger as an accelerator. This allows you to dangle the ball around your front side, and quickly take the ball back to get the defender off balance. “It’s really a cat and mouse game with the defender,” Misra said. He said this helps create an emotional connection in trying to beat the defender. Older installments in the series saw you simply press the button to perform tricks and you never really took control of the moment.

There are new ways to defend, too. Instead of canned animations from previous games, running off of the FIFA 12 game engine provides plenty of physics to consider on the defensive end. If your opponent is juggling the ball, you can take a quick step back to block their advance. “We want to make sure there is an equal defensive counter measure to any offense,” Misra said.

This is a far more connected game than previous Street titles. The world tour career mode connects you from the very beginning. You can upload your player to the FIFA Street servers, add friends to your team, and start competing regionally, nationally, and finally with other teams from around the world. For the first time in the history of the season, the offline mode is not just offline, you can play any tournament online and progress through the world stage. This is available in England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the U.S., and Canada. Licensed content will be added throughout your career, including 40+ real street players plus European teams. There’s a progression system here that allows you to level your guy, unlocking new skills, moves, attributes, clothing, and boots.

Street Seasons puts your team’s position on a table, and helps give players a reason to come back to the game, Misra said. This is similar to FIFA head to head, and you’ll find weekend cups, and other ways to fill your trophy case. If you want to play offline, you can still create your team in the world tour and earn point. You’ll lose points regardless of a win or loss.

The environments are more plausible than in previous installments, too. That’s not to say they are genuine, but there is at least a door for your players to enter the gym, pitch, or court, Misra said. You could, for example, play on a rooftop in Tokyo, or on a floating pitch in Venice. “There’s plausibility there. The term is believable, but still fun and cool,” Misra said about locations.

How you play the game will depend on which three styles you associate with. Rio, for example, is fluid, more like a dance. Amsterdam, on the other hand, is all about humiliation. The London style is more physical and tactical.

Misra explained that this evolution to a more realistic street game was aided by Paterson, who understands what it means to make an authentic football game. If a change in gameplay, connection, and presentation isn’t enough, the Street Network is yet another way to create a social network within the game. You can share your in-game videos directly to others by streaming through your console—no more running to your PC to share highlights. Misra said this helps in “creating that showoff culture of street football.”

A demo for FIFA Street is out Feb. 28 in North America and Feb. 29 in Europe. The game drops March 13 and March 16 in Europe.