FIFA Street 2
| FIFA Street 2

The career of many a footballer began on the street outside his house, with chalk outlines for goalposts and Coke cans for balls. The street is football's nursery, so it's fair to assume that its proudest products – Beckham, Kaka, Ronaldo – will want to leave their mansions and return to the grit and tar of their youths from time to time.

Fat chance.

Still, the idea is clearly appealing, because EA has been milking it successfully with its Street games since 2005, and the FIFA series' pedigree infuses this arcade-style mobile conversion.

Immediately evident is FIFA Street 2's painstaking attention to detail. From the menu, you can determine not only whether or not the sound is on, but the number of goals you need in order to win a game, the difficulty level, whether you'll have a head start, and even the colour of the ball.

You also have the choice of playing a one-off friendly or, more ambitiously, attempting to Rule the Streets. The Friendly mode is fairly straightforward, with a range of ten international teams to play as and against, and a range of celebrity players with which to fill them.

Rule the Streets mode is more involved. Starting off with a team of your choice, you have to win Kick About games to earn cash. With this cash, you can buy new players or upgrade yours team's speed, accuracy, and so on, much as you'd tweak a car in a driving game.

To advance to full Rule the Streets mode, you need to accumulate a skill rating of 25 points and 1,500 'skill bills', after which you can move on to the prestigious Cup. There are ten locations in which you can repeat this process, so all in all FIFA Street 2 has a generous complement of 80 matches to survive before the career game ends.

All very well, but it's what happens on the pitch that really matters, and here FIFA Street 2 is an uneven playing field, possessed of all the right dimensions but cracked and marred by areas of mediocrity.

You control your players by pressing once on the keypad in the relevant direction, rather than holding the key down. This enables you to overcome some of the keypad's fiddliness, but controlling your players still takes a long time to master, and you never reach anything like a satisfying degree of precision.

Equally uneven is the sound. While the menus are overlaid with a bog-standard rock theme, the games themselves are silent, save for the occasional ripple of restrained applause.

What FIFA Street 2 lacks in refinement, however, it attempts to make up for in arcade-style embellishments and sheer accessibility.

Matches are four-a-side, and played by whichever team you choose to put out. You can have a team of strikers, if you like, or a team of defenders, or a more balanced squad.

However, while choosing between striker and defender does make some difference, you can pretty much ignore the subtleties and look simply at how many points a player is worth: the more, obviously, the better, wherever he professes to be most comfortable on the pitch.

Augmenting the inevitable pass are two varieties of context sensitive special moves, enabling you to bounce the ball off a wall, flick it deftly over your head, or bedazzle your opposition with a step over, all with either the '*' or '#' keys. You're unlikely to use these much in the early stages, but as you come up against increasingly tough opposition you'll resort to them occasionally. Ultimately, though, the special moves feel tacked-on and largely redundant, even though your match performance statistics judge you on your use of them.

Of infinitely more use are the abilities to switch to off the ball and to tackle, which you'll need to master if you want to Rule, as it were, the Streets.

And ruling this tidy, smartly presented, and value-packed football game is a worthwhile aspiration. While not gruelling, simply reaching the end of the Career mode will take time, and there's just about enough arcade playability at its heart to ensure that unlike the stars, you'll return to the streets from time to time afterwards, just for a kick around.

FIFA Street 2

Whilst the ever-clumsy numberpad prevents FIFA Street 2 from living up to the silky aspirations of the franchise, this is a solid, comprehensive, and playable football game that confines authenticity to the bench in favour of arcade appeal
Rob Hearn
Rob Hearn
Having obtained a distinguished education, Rob became Steel Media's managing editor, now he's no longer here though.