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NFL Street

Published Aug. 27, 2005

System: Xbox

Company: EA Sports

Price: $49.99

Rating: Everyone

Grade: C- Many may be familiar with NBA Street and its sequel, NBA Street: Volume 2. These were groundbreaking basketball games, combining many different elements and really bringing the craziness and style of street basketball to the platform. NFL Street tries to do the same with football, but falls short.

It seems like the only thing relating this game to NBA Street is the name, the graphics and the Gamebreaker. (You earn a Gamebreaker by showing off a lot. It basically supercharges your team for one drive, much like the On Fire system in NFL Blitz.)

The whole juke move system, which is what made NBA Street so great, is not incorporated. Instead, there are just simple juke, spin and stiff-arm buttons, just like any other football game. Most football games have even more options, with a button for juking right or left. The only thing that is reminiscent of a street pickup game of football is that there are no uniforms per se, no stadiums and the pickup mode of play. In this mode, you select your team one player at a time, taking turns with the computer or other player.

Also, the NFL Challenge mode (the equivalent of the career mode in most football games) is very lacking and has an extremely steep learning curve. Your team starts from the base up. You must earn points to make it better by completing certain challenges, making it good enough until you play NFL Teams. With such a horrible startup team, however, points are hard to earn, which makes earning new levels, teams, players and other options very hard to do.

The graphics in NFL Street are good, though not like your average sports game. There has been no effort at realism. Players' features are exaggerated, and everything has a very cartoonish feel to it. But there are some nice effects, such as sweat marks in the shirts and footprints in the turf. The controls have a different layout than in most football games, making it hard to get used to. Adding to the problem is that the tutorial doesn't clearly show you how to do the more advanced maneuvers.

All and all, NFL Street is not a particularly good football game. There are much better options out there, such as ESPN Football and the Madden series. NFL Street is extremely lacking in plays, has a horrible control layout and a very steep learning curve.

If you're looking for an arcade-style football game for your platform, I suggest trying NFL Blitz. It is much more fun and much easier to just pick up and play. NFL Street is not worthy of the Street name and is a big letdown for those who were looking for a game as revolutionary to football as NBA Street was to basketball.

_ ANDERS SCHERBERGER, Times correspondent