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Platform

PlayStation2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Developer

EA Sports Big

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q1 2007

 

 

- Fun, fast, furious football action
- Kicking soundtrack
- Plethora of gameplay options ensuring replayability

 

 

- Brutal learning curve for the non-sports gamer

 

 

Review: NFL Street 2 (PlayStation 2)

 

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NFL Street 3

Score: 9/10

 

nfl-street-3-1.jpg (48764 bytes)         nfl-street-3-2.jpg (76884 bytes)

 

The last sports game I played with any enthusiasm was NFL 2K for the Dreamcast. However, while playing that game, usually with my brothers, the conversation would invariably turn to Mutant League Football, and how we enjoyed things like bribing the ref, killing the ref, throwing explosive footballs at the cheerleaders during halftime, or sacking the quarterback hard enough to leave a stain on the field. While one doesn't get the chance to commit that sort of bloody mayhem in NFL Street 3, there's definitely a kinship with the older title, not only in spirit but in enjoyment as well.

 

NFL Street 3's visual style fits its overall attitude perfectly. This isn't Madden, with its excruciating accuracy of visual detail, but a more playful and stylized look. The various players taken from real life NFL teams are not perfect simulacrums. They're the slightly distorted but very recognizable alter egos of the league's best players. A little cartoonish, perhaps, a hint of caricature, but still the gridiron heroes we love to watch every Sunday throughout the fall and winter. Texture details on the players, objects, and playing fields are excellent with nary a crack or misaligned texture to be found. There are a few glitzy special effects when you engage special moves in the game but this is one game that has its act together when it comes to making the game look not only pretty but convincing.

 

As for sound and music, NFL Street 3 delivers the goods. Clinton Portis of the Washington Redskins and Chad Johnson of the Cinncinnati Bengals (who is also featured on the game's cover), graciously lend their voices to the game, though any other NFL players who also presented their voices are strangely uncredited. Called audibles, predicted plays, and the invariable gloating as players score for their teams are rich and varied. Sound effects are dead on, from the sound of shoes against a concrete floor to the sound of a three hundred pound linebacker crashing into a steel drum as he flattens a receiver. Rather than generating a play-by-play commentary, the game provides you with a broad mix of hip-hop and hard rock tunes to keep the energy pumping.

 

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Where NFL Street 3 really stands out is the gameplay. Multiple play modes give you plenty of variety from a quick and dirty scrimmage between your two favorite teams, to a cross-country odyssey with a custom team of your own creation, to online play through the PS2's broadband adapter and SOE service. Embedded within the game is a panoply of unlockable teams, players, and 

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gear that is mind boggling. The ability to create your own custom team for the game's "Respect The Street" mode is practically a game unto itself. You can choose skin and facial features, tattoos, team position, deck them out in matching uniforms or customize each one for maximum individual cool. As you play the various game modes, you earn credits to unlock new gear for your custom players. The nearest comparison I can think of would be the character creation tool for City of Heroes/Villains. It is almost that variegated. If there is any complaint with the gameplay in NFL Street 3, it is the brutal learning curve that a non-sports gamer will likely endure while they play. Gamers who inhale the annual updates to Madden shouldn't have much problem with this game. Those who haven't played a football game in a while are likely to get knocked around and suffer more than a couple defeats before they get the hang of the game. Those who've never picked up a sports title in their lives might wish to think carefully be fore picking up this one, and make sure they've got the intestinal fortitude to stick it out. Or grab a few friends, plug in the Multitap, and get the hang of it with people who may not be much better than yourself. Remember, there are no refs to kill here, but neither are there any to help out.

 

nfl-street-3-3.jpg (71095 bytes)         nfl-street-3-4.jpg (70688 bytes)

 

While EA will probably never make another Mutant League game of any sort, NFL Street 3 ensures that the game of football can still be irreverent and entertaining at the same time. A must have title for any sports gamer and a strongly recommended title for those who want to get back into sports gaming without all those pesky officials or highly realistic weather conditions. This isn't Sunday stadium football. This is football for the street.

 

Axel Cushing

February 26, 2007

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