NFL Street 3 PS2 Review

The third game in the NFL Street series comes with new play modes and a much-improved Gamebreaker feature. The aim is to play American Football in a “street” style – the stadiums are empty warehouses, a subway station, a tatty practice pitch and so on. There are only seven players per side in the main game.

Plays are chosen from a series of menus, defining the formation and the type of play (running, passing or a “trick” to catch the defence out). At the line an Audible can be called to change the play, while the defence can predict what type of play will happen, increasing their chances of stopping it. The controls feel similar to the Madden series – Cross snaps the ball to the quarterback who can hand off for a running play, or pull up the passing targets to throw downfield to his receivers. With the ball in hand, a player can use L1 to pull off style moves, improved forms of the basic actions (jump/dive, stiff arm, pass and spin/juke, mapped to the face buttons). R1 gives a limited turbo to speed up the player. Pressing Circle before the ball is snapped switches control to a receiver, and the player then manoeuvres downfield into the right place to take the catch. With defenders closing in, a player can also try a risky lateral pass to a teammate with the Triangle button. Once the ball is in play, defenders can try to blitz the quarterback and get past the linemen, or drop back into pass coverage to intercept the ball. Tackling is done with Square, and in combination with L1 it unleashes a power tackle that can often cause a fumble.

When the Gamebreaker bar is filled, by making successful plays and tackles, a GB icon becomes available to use with L2. In conjunction with the other buttons it unleashes the Gamebreaker, which happens in real-time rather than the cut-scene style of NFL Street 2. Examples of a Gamebreaker would be an unstoppable pass by the quarterback, a high-powered spin move to avoid being tackled or a “homing” tackle that takes down the ball carrier. While these moves are powerful, they do not automatically guarantee a score. Another way to impress is with the various aerial moves. By jumping off an object like a bin, or “planting” on a wall, players can spin and dive to get past an opponent or even jump higher to catch a pass.

Respect the Street sees a team of seven unknown players cross the country, taking on other teams to earn Respect. Winning games unlocks extra opponents and vital Drills (that earn you development points to improve your players). To add variety there are different types of game to play – Bank, for example, adds up the Style points until one team scores and earns the contents of the bank. Yards for Points relies on the player gaining ground to reach a set target, with rushing plays worth more. Elimination starts with a limited number of plays, and every time the offensive player fails to gain ground with a chosen play it is eliminated from the playbook. The winner is the team with the most points on the board when either side runs out of plays. In addition there are some shorter skill games to test the player – like Open-field Showdown where the aim is to keep possession of the football, or the lightning-fast 4-on-4 mode. Quick Match and Exhibition Mode round out the options for multiple players, with a head to head match giving a choice of Bank, Points for Yards and so on as well as playing to a set number of points.

Aesthetically NFL Street 3 doesn’t overdo things. Graphics are OK, with some muscular players and recognisable stars. The backgrounds are nice, but there is the occasional glitch with a player passing through solid objects. Menus are well planned and easy to navigate and the watercolour loading screens often give a useful playing tip. The big drawback is the soundtrack, a harsh-sounding collection of metal and hip-hop tracks that won’t appeal to everyone. Turning up the volume of the player chatter is good though, as they trash talk each other and communicate to teammates. The short cutscenes, like two players arguing over whose mistake it was, are a lot of fun.

Out on the pitch, it’s a mixed bag. The first few games in Respect the Street are a struggle to gain the respect needed to unlock new events. Then there are times when the AI is just not up to the task, with defensive players missing an easy tackle or the computer opponent refusing to make use of its Gamebreakers. Against a human opponent, this makes a good party game in short bursts thanks to the variety of game types. Long term there is perhaps not enough to draw the player back with only limited unlockable content, such as an NFL Legends squad featuring famous players and different footballs to play with. All in all it’s one for fans of American Football as well as the OTT style of EA Big’s games.