If it seems like it’s been less than a year since the original NFL Street hit playgrounds and makeshift football fields everywhere, you’d be right. Taking the “attitude-infused” EA Sports Big brand and running wild with it, NFL Street was EA’s “extreme” football title. The result was a mix of childhood pickup games and Blinged out superstars fighting for bragging rights on the gridiron. Now, 11 months later, gamers big and small return to stake their claim to the football crown with NFL Street 2.
Basically leaving the original format of the first title intact, Street 2 makes a couple of slight adjustments to gameplay to make the streetball a bit more competitive. For instance, gamers were initially able to call audibles to change coverage plays on defense. Now, teams will have the option to predict the opposing squad’s play, receiving stat bonuses for correct guesses and penalties for wrong answers. While it won’t necessarily guarantee a loss of yards or an automatic first down, estimating plays could just give a back the power they need to make a big play. Gamebreakers also have a larger and more strategic part in this game, akin to NBA Street 2. Sure, level 1 Gamebreakers can be used for virtually unstoppable plays, as well as canceling out these power moves from opposing teams, but level 2 Gamebreakers are far more dramatic. Accompanied by a cutscene, your team vaults over its competition on its way to the endzone.
While the original title demonstrated a certain level of agility for its players, Street 2 turns these players into complete acrobats thanks to the inclusion of new wall moves. All of the jukes, hurdles and other steps that you can perform on the ground can be launched off the numerous fences or walls lining the fields. There are also signs scattered along these walls, known as hotspots. Running along these areas gives any athlete an elevated platform to catch passes or leap tacklers. Combined with the flashy style moves and showboating steps that would make Randy Moss and Terrell Owens jealous, skilled players can literally break open a game.
Similar to the previous title, you’ll have the option to choose pickup games, quick matches and online bouts against competitors. However, there are four additional game modes that truly extend the gameplay further, making Street 2 much more expansive than its predecessor. First of all, there are a number of mini-games, known as Street Events that also serve to hone your skills for the overall title. From open field tackling to catching passes from QBs, each mini-game also ties nicely into the other modes, such as Own The City. This lets players create an athlete, recruit stars from neighborhoods around NFL Street 2’s fictional town and form a team with the ultimate goal of taking on Xzibit’s group of all-stars. The NFL Challenge, on the other hand, lets you build a new team and prepare for 150 days to take on NFL players in a massive tournament. Finally, The NFL Gauntlet lets you choose a team to take on the entire league one professional crew at a time.
The one thing that continues from NFL Street to Street 2 is the vibrant, cartoon-like graphical style of the game. Most of the NFL players in the game look like their real-life counterparts, and the number of polygons have been boosted somewhat, making athletes look more physically defined and cleaner to look at. This also extends to the animations of the style moves, which are as slick as before. Street 2 has also boosted the number of arenas from 8 to 12 stadiums, ranging from parking lots with loading docks to baseball fields and rooftops. There is one major caveat that extends over the entire title, however, which is that it doesn’t really seem like the game breaks any new ground or redefines the playing style. Most of the game celebrations, animations and other effects have blatantly been recycled from the original title. Vets of the original game will easily be able to pick out a number of these reused scenes, which is a bit disappointing. Similarly, the number of sound effects and sound bytes from players have been heavily recycled. Xzibit’s vocal contributions to the game are the one saving grace acting wise, as his lines are nicely performed. Fortunately, his presentation is bolstered with the ever-present EATrax selections, which are a great presentation of rock and rap songs for this game.
The recycling feature that plagues the graphics and sound also plague the gameplay, considering that most of the style moves are virtually cribbed from the original title. Since there’s no way to create your own moves or signature celebrations, this is somewhat of a letdown. What’s more, some of the new features that have been tweaked have also imbalanced the rest of gameplay. For instance, while the ability to string together style moves to completely max out your Gamebreaker meter has been slightly reduced, this has been radically tipped in favor of the wall moves. These gymnastic steps are way too strong, and can swing a game too far in one team’s favor. The Own The City mode is a decent way to play the game, although only being able to tweak the stats of your created character is a serious downside, particularly since the acquired players for your team have very weak stats.
Similarly, although you can augment the stats of the other team members in the NFL Challenge mode, a majority of the objects within the store, such as the shoes, haircuts and other clothing items do absolutely nothing for your players (aside from a minor visual tweak). Considering that you won’t necessarily see exactly what these items are unless you get a cutscene for that player, there really is no point in buying these unless you’re a fashion freak. Finally, although the number of NFL legends has slightly increased, not only have they not combined heroes from both titles, they’ve still left out a massive number of worthy athletes. Fortunately, the solid online play and multiplayer aspect of the game, which is perhaps the best feature of NFL Street 2, redeems the game from merely being a blatant rehash of the original title.
Although NFL Street 2 has managed to double the number of playable modes available for gamers, the large amount of recycled material and somewhat imbalanced or unnecessary tweaks make Street fail to live up to expectations. If you’ve never played the first title, this is a decent introduction to the series, but vets of the first could potentially rent this one to see if they’ll like the minor upgrades.