The top EA football game is Madden, hands down. It has a huge amount of plays, players, fans, features, customizations, and options. Right now it is your only choice for an authentic football experience, but this is due to the fact EA bought exclusive rights to the NFL license. However, don’t think that EA is only offering Madden with the exclusive NFL license. EA Big continues to work on and improve its popular NFL Street franchise. Street 3 offers a brand-new “Respect The Street” mode, new mini-games, a “GameBreaker” power-up, and much more. The core of Street 3 remains to be a less serious approach to football, that has a more “gamey” feel to it.
The graphics can best described as “crazy stylish.” Everything is a bit exaggerated and over the top. Simply put, the graphics aren’t trying to be realistic. The art style is heavy inspired by graffiti and urban art styles. There is also a fair amount of color and variety compared to any normal football games. The colors are vibrant and bright, while the style of the game retains its urban feel. This blending of urban art, backyard football, and vibrant visuals work well for the game. The HUD falls in line with this same style, and it looks like it was basically splattered on. Again, it has the looks of graffiti and urban art blended into the HUD, menus, and all throughout the game.
The animations add a lot, every move that is performed perform has a unique style. The exaggerated movement and animations fall right in line with the feel of the game. Everything in the game is larger than life, such as the players being bigger, the moves being more powerful, the jumps going higher, and the tackles are meaner. This type of gameplay is transferred into fun, even goofy, animations. My only complaint is that, overall, the graphics are aging a bit. You aren’t going to be amazed by the presentation or look of the game, but it’s solid and true to form. Loading times can be a bit of a pain, too, but aren’t nearly as bad as some other sports games.
A healthy beat of rock tunes accompany NFL Street. Most of the time this upbeat rock would be a distraction more than anything, but due to Street 3’s style and presence, the music is an essential part of the experience. Its loud, in your face rock tunes fit into the game’s mold well. In fact, the music is fairly overpowering in all aspects of the game. You don’t get any announcers, fans, coaches, or any other ambient noises you’d expect in a game like Madden. It’s just the game of football, and the game’s blend of hardcore rock, punk, and even a little metal. The downside to this is since you are always hearing the same songs, you soon come to realize the handful of songs are repetitive. It’s also a matter of taste, and if you’re not a fan of the music you have little choice but to turn it off and get used to a lot of odd quiet time.
The on-field sounds are an assortment of grunts, hikes, and taunts. Occasionally after certain plays, the game will flip to a cut scene of a specific taunt. This brings you to the voice acting. The voices seem kind of rough and mean, yet they also seem just a bit comic. This combination of taunting and humor makes it hard to take the taunts seriously, as they aren’t very intimidating or exciting. Sometimes they’re a bit funny, but it’s hit and miss. The voice acting is average, sometimes it is a bit too generic, but at least it isn’t to the point where it distracts you. After watching a couple of these on-field cut scenes, you’ll likely just quickly just skip them to get back to the game.
The control scheme of NFL Street 3 is fairly straightforward. For the main controls, they’re very standard for football games. Usually the triggers are for more advanced move sets like pulling a juke or a stiff arm in a certain direction, they instead are used for various modifiers. The R1 trigger is your turbo, which obviously is used to gain speed. This is limited by your Turbo meter, which is essentially stamina. The L1 trigger is your Style Moves. Any play you make will riskier, as in a greater chance for a turnover, but will reward you with bonus Style Points for your GameBreaker. The L2 trigger is your GameBreaker move. These trigger special moves that can be explosive. You can knock down defenders like nothing, make impossible passes, or jump into the air and intercept nearly any pass. It all works together quite well.
Something I like about Street 3, and wish more games would include, is a good learning curve. It offers up a solid set of tutorials, and gets you hands on experience right off the bat. After 15 minutes of hands on play through the tutorials, you’ve got a good grip on the system and understand how everything fits together. This sort of explanation while giving you hands on playing time is great. I’m tired of these little 2 minute videos trying to explain the entire games trying to completely explain the entire control scheme, game mechanics, and fundamentals. It doesn’t work. Ease someone into the game’s controls via an interactive tutorial, and then set them lose on the game. These tutorials should be considered default, but since so many games are straying away from including tutorials that it feels like an added bonus.
The game is nothing like Madden, or most other football games. In fact, it’s mainly comparable to Blitz. You play with less players on the field, but every player has big play potential. Also like Blitz, everything about the game is exaggerated including the player’s
looks, their moves, their tackling ability, and it’s all pretty
ridiculous. It’s not identical, though, Blitz is a lot more adult themed, and NFL Street has more of a “backyard pick up game” type atmosphere. Instead of stadiums, you’ll play in worn down buildings and airplane hangars. You’ll also never see a ref, coach, cheerleader, or anyone from the sidelines. You won’t get instant replays (unless you press a button for them), and you don’t get play by play announcers. It’s street ball, after all!
The game is super easy to pick up and play, as it involves less strategy or tactical thinking to win. You just need to get as many yards and touchdowns as you can, and you’ve got it. That being said, there is plenty of challenge to be had in the game, the challenges just aren’t described so much as strategy as it is reflex. You’ve still got the normal challenges in football, like dodging tackles and avoiding sacks, but play calling and coaching decisions are a lot less critical. It’s more about your on-field play, making the moves when it counts, and creating your own big plays. Just because it isn’t as deep or strategic, it doesn’t mean it’s any less fun. If you really enjoy the strategic elements of football, this game might not be worth it.
Pre-play is done just right. For defense, you get to predict their play call for an added bonus. You’ve got a feeling they’re running? Predict a run play, and your defenders will receive a slight bonus if it is indeed a run. This is definitely a nice addition to adding a bit of strategic thinking without making it complicated. Audibles on defense and offense are also pretty straightforward. You don’t get any customization as far as I can tell, yet the audibles you can call usually are the ones you need to call. Besides that, there isn’t much to do pre-play. The game is very fast paced, so you want to hike the ball and get moving as quickly as you can. There isn’t a lot of waiting around on defense for the AI offense to go, either, which is great.
The strategy doesn’t so much revolve around audibles and play calling as it does Style Points and GameBreakers. Both of them are exactly what they say they are. You gain Style Points by making stylish moves or big plays. You earn enough Style Points and you get a GameBreaker, which essentially “breaks” the game. You can make an impossible play possible. If you use a GameBreaker pass, your receiver will catch it, no matter how good the coverage. A GameBreaker spin? You’ll knock back any tackler, no matter how many tacklers there are. They are really over powered, which is why their use is critical to winning the game a lot of the time. If you’re not careful against your opponents GameBreakers, either, they can easily result in touchdowns and turnovers. Getting as many Style Points as possible and receiving GameBreakers is often the most important aspect of the game. Be careful, though, because making Style Moves can often result in a careless maneuver that results in a turnover.
There is a ton of game types in NFL Street 3. In fact, you’ll rarely play a game of regular football in this game. Your goal is to try and score points for the most part, however how you score points changes from mode to mode. You may play Bank, where points are earned on offense and defense for making good players. Both team’s points go into the same “Bank”. The Bank will empty into one of the team’s points once they score a TD. Turnovers in Bank mode are crucial, for example, but also scoring extra points off of style moves is a good idea. Another example of a game type is Play Elimination, where you start with a determined amount of random plays in your playbook. If you aren’t able to gain positive yards on a play, then that play is removed from your playbook. Once you are out of offensive plays, you can’t go on offense any longer, and the other team can still score points.
Those are just a few of many examples in different game types. You also get access to a Shop where you can spend Credits earned while playing. In the Shop, you can buy a variety of clothing, equipment, hairstyles, and more. You can get some pretty goofy looking characters. You can customize your players and your team in the Respect The Street mode (think Franchise mode with fewer options). Along with Credits for unlocks, you earn Respect by winning. Respect gives you a bigger roster and a bigger playbook, which is needed down the road. And third, you gain Development Points in Drills, which you use to upgrade stats. Overall, it is a lot easier to manage than most sports game, and it requires you to go out and earn your spot.
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).