Takin' it to the Street

NFL Street
Reviewed On
PlayStation 2
Available For

Let me take you to a place where there are no "Mile High Stadiums" or "Lombardi Fields." No camera crews or sellout crowds. No big commercial deals or million dollar contracts and no playoff berths or Superbowl appearances. Just a place where serious ballers go to live their dreams, play for bragging rights, defend their honor and their turf and of course do a little trash-talking.

Any true baller knows that the origin of all football began in a backyard, or in a wide-open field, on the blacktop of an abandoned parking lot, in the alleyways of a Slum, or even on a dead street in the middle of the projects. Wherever the end zones could be drawn and the out-of-bounds laid out, there was the place where the origin of football began and stars like Barry Sanders, Ricky Watters, and Shannon Sharpe were born.

For years, EA Sports has brought fans the ultimate pro football experience, giving gamers the opportunity to take home field for their favorite football franchise on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. Now the coin has flipped and the NFL stars have been relocated to a turf that’s all too familiar to football fanatics. The helmets are off and rules are made to be broken. So bring your colors, bring your people, and bring your "A" game ’cause EA Sports is fittin’ to take it to the streets with their brand new 7-on-7 blockbuster, "NFL Street".

"NFL Street" captures the hype and funk of street ball, showcasing a heightened level of gameplay that seems slightly exaggerated, but just barely stays within the borders of realism. The unique harmony of atmosphere, attitude, and intensity are what make this title standout and a big reason why "Street" succeeds where games like "NFL Blitz" have failed.

Let me break it down.

For starters, when you do a game like this atmosphere is critical. If you’re gonna late-hit, clip, or clothesline your opponents, you gotta’ choose the right environment and cast of characters to set the tone and pull it all off. EA Tiburon steps up to the challenge by offering football fans eight urban locales with varying dimensions and surfaces including loose sand, dirt, mud, and turf. Each field has its own interactive attributes and surroundings which more than oft force gamers to alter their game plan.

For example, in the "The Pit," the muddy field makes juking and spinning risky, while the "West Coast’s" sand makes it harder to get up to speed. On a narrow field, a power running game between the tackles is a good tactic, while on a wide field, speed-running and passing attacks might be the best strategy.

Then there’s the personnel. Captains get to choose from more than 300 of the NFL’s biggest stars from all 32 teams, including legends like "The Refrigerator" Perry and Lawrence Taylor. Or if you wanna do your own thing, you can create your own squad of ballers.

Take time to put the right gear on before you hit the field too. Choose from reinforced metal shoulder pads or stylized pads with various logos on the shoulders. Throw on a sweatshirt, basketball jersey, or jumper top, or choose from a long-sleeved, short-sleeved, or undershirt to add flavor to your gear. Profile in your choice of baggy pants, warm-ups, cargo shorts, basketball shorts and more. Kick it with various styles of athletic shoes, tennis shoes, boots, and hightops. And who needs a helmet when you have your choice of headbands, visors, do-rags, hats, and ski caps. You can add that final jazz to your get-up by putting on accessories like goggles, shades, upper armbands, wristbands, elbow pads, gloves and even tattoos. Experiment with your gear to give your team that authentic urban look.

Not only does what a player wears make him look good on the field, it can also boost his attributes. You need to win challenges to unlock "Impact Gear" like superfast shoes to make your player quicker, armored shoulder pads to increase tackling ability, headbands to boost coverage attributes, upper armbands for defensive moves, and gloves to help your ball carrying skills. Impact Gear is the only way to increase attributes beyond Level 20 to give your team the edge when the competition stiffens up.

The meat and potatoes of street ball is "attitude" and this games got tons of attitude. In fact, attitude can sway the turn-out of a game in most cases. EA Tiburon has incorporated a "stylin’ factor" within the game that separates the players from the "Playaz." Get your style on by performing fancy pitches, hurdles, dive, spin and juke moves. You can even throw a stylin’ pass behind your back to rack up the big points. The more stylin’ you do, the more you show off your game, but more importantly the more style points you can earn.

Style points are huge in NFL Street. Get enough of them to fill your Gamebreaker meter and a random player from your team will be given the almightily power of the "Gamebreaker." The player who receives this ability almost always breaks the game wide open. On offense, you’re guaranteed a touchdown just about every time, and defensively, you can easily create a turnover to put your team back in the game. The only way to stop a Gamebreaker is to activate one of your own to cancel it out.

Now we put all the ingredients together: Eight unique interactive urban environments with their own personalities, an all-star cast of NFL’s most elite superstars and unforgettable legends, a righteous selection of playa gear and accessories, along with some nasty stylin’ and profilin’ moves, and your gonna get an intense bone-crushing, ankle-breaking, pride-shaking, heart-taking, no-holds-barred gridiron thriller with all the trash-talking you can possibly stand.

Add to that a bumpin’ sound track that’s off the hook for sure, starring top hip and rock artists like "Bravehearted: Nas and Lil John," "DJ KaySlay and Three 6 Mafia," "Grafh," "Killer Mike," "Jakk Frost," "Baby D Feat," "Bone Crusher," "Dru" and the "Executioners." And this game just became every hardcore football fan’s dream come true.

The bottom line is EA and company have churned out a very solid extreme football title that in its own way pays tribute to the millions of believers, fans , and supporters of this great sport. You heard it from planet GiN first. "NFL Street" is your "off-season hook-up" racking up 4 1/2 Gin Gems.

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