XBOX REVIEW: NFL STREET 2

NFL Street 2 is a totally accessible football game. The arcade style should make it appeal to a wide audience. The trouble is that it's not very different from the original NFL Street game, although you can take this one online with the Xbox Live feature. There are a few new moves but unless the online play piques your interest, the offline play is like Déjà vu all over again.

An interesting balance of challenge and simplicity has been achieved by the NFL Street series. The controls are easy to learn and operate. Instead of memorizing button combos there are dynamic components to the game that occur during real time such as hotspots and specialty meters to fill which can be controlled by the placement of your character during gameplay.

New moves include wall moves which allow you to jump and bounce off of the walls when you get near them. This gives you an opportunity to literally jump over the defense. Hotspots are specific areas that are highlighted on the field. If you perform a stylish move in one of these areas you will receive kick ass bonus points. At the same time if you get tackled in one of these areas the other team will benefit from the windfall of points.

Points can be used to purchase outfits and accessories from the shop. It may give your character some "street cred" but the addition of new Reeboks and gold chains are purely cosmetic. There's too much of this gangsta' attitude in this game. At times it's embarrassingly pandering as you'll find out in the underground street mode hosted by Xzibit.

Another new addition is a second Gamebreaker move. As in the original game, the Gamebreaker meter would fill allowing you unleash a devastating move which would almost certainly result in getting the ball to your opponent's end zone. If you let the first Gamebreaker meter fill it will begin to fill the second Gamebreaker meter. Unleashing this move results in a cutscene which virtually guarantees that your team will score. Filling these meters is easier than you may think and while some may say that it kind of evens the score for less skilled player, don't forget that great players will be able to fill their meters just as easily.

The action is always fast paced but some aspects of the game tend to drag such as the 150-day training period that you must subject your team to in the NFL Challenge mode. Once you create a team of your own, the Holy Grail of the project is to play against actual licensed NFL teams. But before you can do that you have to qualify by training your team. Each time you complete a specific objective, days will be taken off from your total of 150. It feels great when you finally complete the training but it's not something you'll want to go through many more times.

Getting online is easy. The games are readily available in a variety of modes that include pick up games and mini games. You can't access all of the lobbies unless you qualify for them. You will have had to make good progress in the offline mode to be able to access some of the more advanced lobbies. This ensures that there will be more balance among the players in terms of skill level but it also means that you'll have to prove yourself - even if you've already proven yourself in the original game.

Graphically the game hasn't changed much from last year. It's still a good looking game both off and online. The online framerate is consistent which displays the smooth animation of the players. The cutscenes do look a little better than the in-game graphics but they work well together.

The developers are trying too hard to please pseudo "hardcore" kids with the music selection which includes hip hop and punk metal. The entire fabricated urban image is forced but if it helps little, upperclass, Johnny, who lives in Salt Lake City feel like a thug, then I guess it's done its job.

Bottom line? You can't go wrong with a rental.

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System: XBOX
Dev: EA
Pub: EA
Released: Dec 2004
Players: 1 - Multi Online
Review by Stew XX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4
CONTROL
4
MUSIC/FX
2
VALUE
2.5