NFL Street 3 PlayStation 2
Published by EA Sports
Developed by Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
The series that offers madcap 7 vs. 7 American football is back for a third outing. It's a series that's always sat rather awkwardly in the EA Sports catalogue as it's a bit too simplified for fans of the mighty Madden NFL series and whilst it's been more accessible for those who don't normally dabble in full blown NFL games, the game has lacked the replay value to hold your interest for very long. Sadly it's not been that deaf gamer friendly so far either. Still here's hoping that NFL Street 3 can rectify some of these problems and be more of an appealing game.
NFL Street 3 offers the following modes: Quick Game, Exhibition and Respect the Street. The Exhibition mode offers Single Game, Street Event (which includes several game variants including Crush the Carrier, Jump Ball Challenge, 2 Minute Challenge and Open Field Showdown) and Pickup Game where you can assemble your own dream team. In addition you can also play through a series of game tutorials (there are seven tutorials in all ranging from running with the ball to instructions on how to use game breakers) and a Team Management section where you can edit teams and players. There is also an Extras section where you can see what football and street art you've unlocked as well as look at previews of Madden NFL 07 and NBA Live 07.
The only mode in NFL Street 3 with any real substance is Respect the Street mode. Here you'll pick to a team to play as (with the option to edit their logo and team colours etc.) and choose a location, California and Colorado are the only two initially available, in which to face your first opponents. As the title of the mode suggests, the basic idea is to earn respect. You'll earn respect by winning matches, games are won when the required objectives are achieved, and as your team earns more respect you'll have more teams who are willing to play against you. As your respect increases you'll also have better players wanting to play for you and there are rewards too, such as additional plays for your playbook and money to purchase new gear for your team. You'll also gain access to drills that can help improve your team. As you progress you'll get to play NFL teams and even a Chad Johnson All-Star team.
Whilst NFL Street 3 does have its positives such as an improved Game Breaker system (which can be turned off if you don't want it), that actually does not simply guarantee a touchdown and requires a bit of effort on your part, it also has its fair share of negatives. The AI seems plain erratic at times and it's possible to get the impression that the AI often scores guaranteed touchdowns, which you can't do anything about which can be annoying. There's still no online play for us Europeans even though it's a feature that was present in the US version of NFL Street 2. The absence of online play is definitely a shame and lessens the replay value of the game. It's also disappointing that the game just doesn't feel that different from previous versions in the series and you'd have to have really enjoyed the first two games to want to purchase what is a similar game in many ways.
Graphically the game isn't really an improvement on previous games in the series which means it isn't as good as it could have been and is definitely nowhere as visually impressive as the Madden NFL games that seem to manage to squeeze out some extra graphical quality year after year. The player models aren't really an improvement on previous versions and the player animations are also quite similar although there are a few new ones here. The various arenas you'll play in do look quite good though. It's worth mentioning that the frame rate is smooth throughout and the load times are actually quite short for a PlayStation 2 game.
Is NFL Street 3 any more deaf gamer friendly than the previous games in the series? Well the introductory cutscene is not subtitled. The tutorials only have bare bones instructions shown in text, although there is an onscreen controller graphic to show you what buttons are required. That said though, the verbal advice is often more instructive than the basic text information and on occasion it can be a little confusing because the displayed text doesn't really give you enough information, so it's disappointing that deaf gamers will miss out on this. Loading screen do display some text hints which might help to improve your game a little. The intro movie for the Respect the Street mode is not subtitled. Any cutscenes you'll see during a game are not subtitled and any comments made by the players during a game are not subtitled. In short it's another poor experience for deaf gamers.
In the opening to this review we mentioned the problems that previous games in the series have had. Sadly none of these problems have been rectified and NFL Street 3 can only be recommended to those who enjoyed the first two games in the series. I still think it's a game that most Madden NFL fans will find too simplified and that those looking for a more accessible NFL experience will find NFL Street 3 lacking in terms of replay value. Graphically it disappoints and it's still disappointing in terms of its support for deaf gamers. Unless you enjoyed the first two games in the NFL Street series and don't mind there being just a few refinements here and there it's probably best to give this one a rental first.
NFL Street 3 has to be regarded as something of a disappointment offering little in the way of improvements. It's also a shame it's just as deaf gamer unfriendly as NFL Street 2 and also the same standard of disappointing graphics. It's also a shame the online mode still isn't present in the PAL version of the game.