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Part asphalt, all attitude, and a whole lot of fun, NFL Street takes the pigskin back to the playground for a game with so much showboating, you'd think it was designed by Chad Johnson. It's old school, down and dirty 7-on-7 football where every player plays both sides of the ball, and it's up to you if you want to play superstars like Michael Vick at his natural quarterback spot, run him out wide for a pass, or line him up at safety. Created by Madden developer Tiburon, the game features 200 challenges, more than 300 current NFL stars, and multiplayer options on- and offline.
Given the success of NBA Street it was only a matter of time before EA Sports took the street concept to its flagship sport, football. And even though there really is no such thing as street football, the concept is a winner. Straight up smash mouth football with no penalties and no clock--just the ball, the field, seven vs. seven playing offense and defense, all for the glory of the game? Boom! Wap!
The game licenses all the NFL teams and some 100 big-league players. The characters models are exaggerated, so don't expect likenesses to be exact, but it's fun taking a bunch of current Packer greats and stuffing the rock down the throats of seven Rams. Game modes let you choose players from single teams or create your own pro bowl, and there is a nice assortment of QBs, RBs, corners, WRs, tight ends, and O and D-linemen. There's a lot of strategy in picking your team. Sure, running backs and quarterbacks are givens, but a corner can intercept better than a wide receiver though he won't catch as well. A big offensive lineman can be useful, but he doesn't tackle well when forced to play defense. When playing two-player (or online on the PS2), you can really stack your line and shut down the enemy passing or running attack, or go for a balanced corp.
You can play a ladder or league by creating your own team, which is annoyingly time consuming. An option to draft your own NFL stars and go through would be nice, instead you have to pick a cadre of nobodies and fill out their stats. Pick a name, a logo, and try to beat the pros with your average Joes. Winning gives you points and you can upgrade from there. It's a nice option but only for the hardcore players; casual players are effectively shut out from continuing play because of it.
EA hired "street" artists to design wonderful load screens, but this makes the player models look dull by comparison. One wishes they had used cel shading and that street look to the characters, but instead we get freakish players that generally look the same. Uninspired, un-intimidating, and, frankly, boring.
The gameplay works. There's a nice assortment of offensive, defensive, and trick plays. There are no special teams, no punting, and extra points are two points for a pass, one for a run. Mastering the buttons is key because the game rewards style, impressive plays, and more. Gathering these points opens new playing fields and, if you like, can be a victory option. The computer is programmed to catch up when behind, annoyingly so, so this is more of a blast against a human opponent. The fast action and brutal hits are reminiscent of NFL Blitz (which is a better game) but EA Big has started something here. Next year this could be really big. --Andrew S. Bub
With Terrell Owens and Joe Horn trying to one-up each other in the TD celebration department – and the criticism both have drawn – the NFL can now officially be called the "No-Fun League." Given the sheer amount of taunting, trash talk, and actual fun being had in NFL Street, it's almost surprising that the league has sanctioned it. If only there were refs you could take out at the knees.
A good football team is all about each player executing their job. Yours is to showboat every chance you get. If you're not High Steppin' your way to the TD or teasing an opponent by waving the ball in his face, then I don't want you on my team. NFL Street gives you every opportunity to spread humiliation on the other team like butter on toast. Throwing, jukeing, pitching the ball – all can be done to gain Style points by holding down L1 while you hit the appropriate button. You can also pull off Signature moves using L2 and the right analog stick.
Do enough showboating and you'll earn a GameBreaker you can play at anytime (which can be used to trump your opponent's own GameBreaker), similar to NBA Street. However, my problem with this title is these don't happen often enough, and that the game doesn't do much with them. While you are guaranteed a score or turnover if you use one, they don't take away points like in NBA Street or do anything new. If they were more plentiful, they'd create more of a tug of war between teams and the title could flow almost like a Tony Hawk run. A quicker payoff would also go really well with the game's already manic pace. I often had times where I would fumble the ball doing a style move, and then the other team would do exactly the same thing all in the span of one play. This fun is ultimately limited, however, and isn't helped by the below average intelligence of your AI teammates. I also wish hot routes and a swat move for defensive backs were added.
The shortcomings in the gameplay don't kill NFL Street, but ultimately limit the amount of time you'll spend with it in one sitting. This is a shame for the career mode. You build up your created team's stats through completing challenges, and then you pit your players against the NFL, playing each division at a time. Unfortunately, you can't use your favorite team in this mode (which is annoying), although you can steal individual players off of NFL franchises. All in all, Street is more of a pure multiplayer experience. Its online features (PS2 only), including pitting your created team against others, are a blast. The virtual taunting is going to make people cry. Sweet.
I can honestly say that this is the first non-hardcore sim football game I've had fun with. Strip away some of the gloss (which isn't even present on the graphics – blah!), however, and it's apparent that despite EA Big's experience with extreme versions of sports, this feels every bit like the first entry in the franchise that it is.
With online the exclusive property of PlayStation 2, you'd think that it would be the best console to play it on. That's certainly true for multiplayer, but visually, I like the GameCube. The system's slightly subdued colors actually help clean up some of the jaggies that are rampant in the PlayStation 2 edition and which even affect the Xbox, believe it or not. At first the GameCube controller was the last thing I'd want to put in my hands for Street, but I found the oversized triggers help my Signature Style flow. And that, my friends, is the name of the game.
Delivers more attitude than Midway's Blitz series, but hits that gameplay wall
Plagued by the PlayStation 2. They struggle to be average, although the player details are cool
The constant jabber-jawing of players is better than your normal announcers
Throwing down style moves is infectious, but the football itself is limited
Despite its career structure, this might shine brightest as a pure multiplayer title
Rated: "b"7.75 out of 10
Editor: "b"Matthew Kato
Issue: "b"March 2004
When it comes to razzle-dazzle and fast-paced gameplay, NFL Street makes NFL Blitz look like a friendly game of flag football. Whether you're freezing the defense in its tracks with a glitzy Signature Style deke move or ramming a hapless quarterback's head into a brick wall, you really couldn't ask for a harder hitting release. Given the acrobatic nature of the players, you often find yourself holding your breath when a ball is tipped, or crossing your fingers praying that your player won't cough up the skin when performing a flashy move. As much as I dislike the notion of the game not having the option of playing seasons or viewing stats, the bevy of unique challenges and desire to transform your custom team and players into NFL powerhouses will assuredly keep you glued to the game. When it comes to multiplayer, this is the ultimate trash talking game. It's all about the skills, baby.
Rated: 8.5 out of 10
Editor: Andrew Reiner
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