In the world of FIFA Street, soccer isn't just about scoring more goals than your opponent; it's about humiliating your opponent at every opportunity. FIFA Street 3 from EA Sports Big tasks you with leading a squad of famous players to victory against other teams from all over the world, taking in some unusual locations along the way. The action is fast-paced and fun for a while. However, the single-player game gets repetitive all too quickly and the multiplayer options are too limited to have lasting appeal.
FIFA Street 3 makes a good impression the first time you kick off a match. The numerous environments--which range from playgrounds and beaches to an oil rig and a city rooftop--are nicely detailed. Although the players are difficult to tell apart unless they have radically different hair or skin colors, they're very well animated. The game's upbeat soundtrack is a good fit, and while the sound effects don't do anything special, they're certainly not offensive.
Getting to grips with the controls might take you a match or two, but regardless of whether you choose to play with the stylus or with the face buttons, they're uncomplicated and responsive. The best place for you to familiarize yourself with the controls would be the quick match "game on" mode, but that's really only a warm-up for the game proper, which is the street challenge mode.
The single-player street challenge mode sets you up with a handful of second tier professional soccer players and tasks you with making them the most respected four-on-four street soccer squad in the world. Only a few different destinations will be available for you to travel to at the outset, but as you earn respect by winning games and tournaments, you'll unlock plenty more. The amount of respect you earn for winning an event is determined not only by the result, but also by the manner in which you win. So, if you keep a clean sheet while putting five goals past the opposing keeper and running rings around the outfield players, you can expect to reap more respect points than if you win a closely contested game, using very few tricks. It would make for an interesting risk-versus-reward mechanic, except that there's really nothing risky about performing tricks in FIFA Street 3.
Spectacular "beat" moves and tricks can be pulled off quite effortlessly by even the least skilled players on your team roster. Provided you choose the right moves for the right situations, there's very little that an artificial intelligence opponent can do about it. That's because a good number of the trick animations require the opponent getting beaten to fall over, stumble, or turn the wrong way on cue. The AI players seemingly go out of their way to please you in this regard, though the flipside is that players on your team will occasionally do the same thing--even if you're controlling them at the time.
There are dozens of different tricks to perform in FIFA Street 3 when you're in possession of the ball, but the list of button combinations that you need to trigger them is kept short because so many of them are context-sensitive. Pressing the same buttons will perform a different move if you're standing still, running, juggling the ball at the time, or getting close to a wall, for example. When you're on defense, you have only a single tackle button with which to combat this onslaught. Depending on where you are in relation to the ball when you press it, you'll shove, shoulder barge, or slide tackle your opponent to regain possession. It's just as well that there are no fouls or injuries in FIFA Street 3 because the challenges are heavy to say the least. Defenders often take so long to get back on their feet after making slide tackles, in fact, that it's often the player who was brought down that ultimately walks away with the ball again.
On occasion, while you're busy performing tricks and trying to prevent your opponent from doing the same, you'll find the time to shoot at goal. Your odds of scoring appear to be determined not only by the quality of your shot but also by the number of tricks that you've performed en route. There are exceptions, of course, and it's entirely possible to put one past the keeper without any fancy build-up play whatsoever. But tricks are definitely what win matches in FIFA Street 3, especially when you add gamebreakers to the equation. These more-or-less unstoppable moves can only be triggered after you fill your gamebreaker meter by performing tricks. This is easy to do because, as in FIFA Street 2, you don't have to be anywhere near an opponent to score trick points. When the meter is full, you simply hit a big red button that appears on the touch screen, then do what you're told anytime the word "Touch" appears on the screen again (three or four times generally) to perform a spectacular sequence of passes and tricks that invariably ends with a powerful shot at goal. If you're on the receiving end of a gamebreaker, you can try to counter the move using the same controls, though your success is dependent on the other player's inability to perform the same ridiculously simple task.
Every match you play in FIFA Street 3's street challenge mode has a slightly different objective, though this unfortunately doesn't add nearly as much variety to the game as you might expect. Being required to win a game by three goals isn't really that different from having to do the same thing within a time limit, and substituting goals with trick points doesn't really change anything either. There are some interesting challenges, such as keeping a ball in the air and away from the opposition for a time or only being able to score with headers, volleys, or gamebreakers. But once you settle into a rhythm, you'll rarely have to change the way you play too dramatically to be successful. Furthermore, regardless of the fact that you'll be adding better players to your team and coming up against supposedly tougher opposition as you progress, the level of difficulty takes forever to ramp up. The objectives become more time consuming, but your AI opposition rarely seems to get any better.
In addition to the street challenge mode, FIFA Street 3 supports competitive play for two either online or locally with a single copy of the game. The options are limited, though, so while you can choose to play with a time limit or until one of you scores a predetermined number of goals, you can't choose to play a match in which only headers and volleys count, for example. Our experiences with FIFA Street 3 online were lag-free for the most part, but if you don't know any other FIFA Street 3 fans to exchange friend codes with, it might take you a long time to find another anonymouse user to play against. If it were possible, you could play the "kick ups" ball-juggling minigames while you waited, but this rhythm-based touch-screen offering can only be accessed from the main menu and gets old after a couple of plays in any case.
The DS version of FIFA Street 3 is a huge improvement over its predecessor, thanks in no small part to the fact that it supports an end-to-end camera that's far more appropriate than the traditional sideline perspective. However, the new game's array of unlockable uniforms and licensed soccer balls just isn't nearly incentive enough to put up with its repetitive gameplay for long.