It’s popular and easy to hate EA right now. Between buying 20% of Ubisoft, locking up exclusive rights to the NFL for the next couple of years and purchasing the rights to the ESPN logo for the next 15 years EA’s a hard company to love. So it’s with a bit of trepidation that I review one of their latest games and admit that I like it.
Last year EA released the first version of NFL Street
, it was a solid, fun game that lacked some depth and a replay feature. For the sequel, EA has added a ton of new game play modes, an instant replay mode, and a new set of plays and moves for gamers to master.
If you didn’t play the first game here’s a quick primer on NFL Street football. The game itself is closer to regulation flag football rather than traditional American football. Rather than eleven players a side each team is composed of seven players. It’s a nice setup and you really don’t miss the extra offensive lineman and the field is a lot smaller.
The first thing you’ll notice when you fire the game up is that the game searches your Xbox hard drive for Madden save games. Why? Because if you have a Madden save games you get extra points added to your account to start off with. I guess this is a nice little bonus for gamers to encourage people to buy other franchise but it still feels a bit creepy. The second thing that you’ll notice is that EA has added a lot of new game modes to the game. In the original game there were only three game play modes which while deep, didn’t really provide a lot of replay value once you beat the core of the game. EA corrected this problem by adding several new game modes.
The first is “Own the City” where you create a player and then play through games to “Own” that part of the city. These games consist of standard NFL street games, 4 on 4 games, and a few of the other mini-games. After each event you win (and you have to win to progress) you’ll be able to select a new teammate. This is critical as you’ll need to add teammates to compete in some of the event further on in the series. Winning events will also reward you with development points and credits which can be used to increase the stats of your player and increase the style of your player respectively. Of course EA took this opportunity to “allow” you to purchase branded merchandise so you’ll be able to shop at the Reebok store as well as a host of other branded shops. Nothing like being beaten over the head with it but if you want to customize your players with real life gear it’s all there for you. The one thing that I didn’t like was that you can only increase the skills of the player you create and not those of the players you pickup.
The NFL Challenge mode has you trying to assemble a seven man team to play against at touring group of NFL players. This mode is a little similar to the Own the City mode but it’s nice to play the names you know and love/hate.
The final big mode will be familiar to players of the first game. In the NFL Gauntlet mode you select one NFL team and then use them to take on every other NFL team out there. Depending on what team you take this could be pretty easy (Patriots/Eagles) or very hard (Browns/49’ers). This is a nice mode if you want to play with the superstars of the league (and since this is an EA title it’s the only place you’ll see them).
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