following recently took place at a premiere restaurant.
smiles, ready for our orders.
"I’ll have the Southwestern Shrimp Scampi."
I suggest a glass of our Dom Perignon?"
"Yes, that’d be wonderful."
"Bring me the Triple-Trimmed Filet Mignon, but hold the hickory-smoked bacon.
And bring me a glass of your finest red wine."
wise choice. And for you, sir?"
Bedigian: "As good as everything sounds, I’ll go with NFL Street Vol. 2 and a
Wavebird controller from Nintendo."
pauses. Dirty looks are thrown, among other things. (Hey, I didn’t know they
served French rolls…)
"Would you like soup or salad with that?"
I substitute a bowl of the minestrone for a 256 memory card?"
eat, sleep and drink video games, it’s easy to mix things up, especially when
you get to review a game like NFL Street Vol. 2. This game comes at the
perfect time: less than one year after the first. My love for the original was
quite extreme when the original NFL Street was released, earning an overall
score of 8.5. Later on that score seemed too low. The more I played the game,
the more its multiplayer mode (which scored a 9.0) took center stage. By fall
it was my favorite and most-played sports game of the year. By December my
love for NFL Street had peaked. It wasn’t about to drop, but it didn’t have
any more room to grow.
time than now to release the sequel to the best extreme football game ever
If Vol. 1
was EA’s Blitz-killer, then Vol. 2 would be EA’s Blitz-killer with a Madden
twist. The playbook is fatter (and phatter). The controls are more fluid. Game
options are more in-depth; not on par with a simulation sports game like
Madden, but closer than most arcade games get. In a nutshell, Vol. 2 lives up
to its predecessor, which means I can tell you what you’ve been waiting to
hear: this is everything the first game was and everything the first game
wasn’t. The annoyances are gone, and in their place is a lot more game and
dozens of additional reasons to forget the original existed.
Sports series is big on style, so don’t be surprised when your friends start
wasting time and in-game cash adorning themselves with licensed merchandise.
It’s a nice feature (and a preferred one according to a recent study), but
that didn’t get me half as excited as the all-new jump moves did. The thought
alone of running on walls had me fantasizing about touchdowns and last-minute
saves against my highly-skilled and ever-so-sneaky cousin. He’d never see
these moves coming! Of course I just had to tell them about it, which then it
made it impossible for us to play the original Street without thinking of the
Unexpectedly, the new moves supercede the fantasy. It only takes two buttons
to execute them. Once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. Repeating the action is
easy. Best of all, their effectiveness depends on you and when you execute
them; how powerful your player is; and the move your opponent uses in defense.
The L button
was previously known as your style button, and while it still activates that
important function, it is now the key to unleashing the game’s newest moves.
The wall (or something comparable) is the other key.
You’re running toward the end zone, gunning for a touchdown. Attempts to get
past the opposing team have been futile. Their men are faster and stronger, or
at least they appear to be. The safest route is to travel along the left wall,
but that makes you more vulnerable to individual tackles. If only there was a
way to avoid the posse and deliver the package.
You could hire FedEx, or you could hold the L button and press B to perform
fast and highly-effective all run. This is the coolest and most fun gameplay
feature I’ve ever experienced in a sports game. Players can use the wall to
jump over their opponents, run for a few feet, and use it to give them a boost
when jumping off to make the touchdown.
Perform a wall juke. Similar to the wall run, wall jukes are executed by
holding L while pressing the X button. As with any juke, the wall juke is most
effective as a tool that’s used to fool your opponents. If you’re not sure
where your opponent is headed, chances are a juke isn’t your best bet. But if
you’re certain your opponent is going to tackle you into the wall, executing a
wall juke will most likely prevent that from happening.
moves are affected by the distance between your player and the wall before
executing the move. Logic says it isn’t going to work if you’re too far away
from the wall. Considering this is a fantasy sports game, logic doesn’t reveal
that it also won’t work if you’re standing too close to the wall. Your player
isn’t exempt from wall jumps just because they’re standing too close, but the
jump is less likely to be successful if you are.
Your opponent is like my cousin: a great tackler and a star interceptor.
Use the wall to jump higher before passing to a receiver. It’s so easy to
learn even a cat could do it. Stand near a wall, hold L as usual, and press
the button that belongs to the desired receiver. If done correctly your
quarterback will jump into the air, launch off the wall and throw a hard,
straight pass that flies toward the target.
like Own the City (create a player and take him through a series of football
games, earning cash and character development points) give you excuses to play
the game alone that do not include "to perfect my multiplayer skills." NFL
Street Vol. 2 is a dish best served with a friend, but it is also very
satisfying to eat on your own.
gameplay mechanics; 12 new playing fields; several new players; enhanced
controls; a greater level of depth; improved computer AI; improved graphics.
Vol. 2 is the quintessential arcade football game. The wall moves add so much
to the experience. Each of the new fields includes a reason for playing or
avoiding them, depending on the type of game you want to have. Some have few
walls, limiting your ability to pull a sneaky stunt. One is completely locked
in, meaning that the ball is locked into the game at all times (no out of
bounds). Another is dark and thus harder to see, but has a great level of eye
and ear candy (moving traffic in the background, good sound effects, etc.).
This is a pretty
good-looking game, but considering the competition from Madden and other
sports games, NFL Street Vol. 2’s graphics are effective and not much more.
The star players resemble the real rappers/athletes, but once again we’ve seen
better in other EA games.
You have to
wonder though: would Street really be Street if it were as realistic-looking
effects, sub-par music. Most of the tunes are dedicated to rappers who are
up-and-coming or are already past their prime. The tunes that aren’t dedicated
to those rappers belong to rockstar wannabes who will likely never get the
chance to be more than a moderately played single on MTV, if that. Vol. 1 had
a soundtrack that spawned at least one hit song. You probably won’t see that
happen this time around.
nuances, young Padawan learner. The nuances are the key to becoming a Jedi.
(Yes, I know this is football, but every Star Wars fan knows that you can
apply The Force to anything.)
Upgrade what we
love; fix the things we don’t love; add new play modes, etc., etc. Most
important ingredient: the developers made the game more fun to play just by
increasing the "wall interactivity," and by tweaking the controls and the
speed that the game runs at.
game of…when? NFL Street Vol. 2 came out too late to be counted in our 2004
Game of the Year Awards, but came out before 2005 and will not be eligible for
an award next time.
That said, NFL Street Vol. 2
provides the best multiplayer experience you could ask for. I’m almost tempted
to compare it Halo 2 in that it’s all about refinement. Twelve playing fields
(all of which are new) gives our eyes something different to look at and
something different to tackle in single and multiplayer games.
There will always be gamers
who prefer Madden, but if you’re like me and want a less realistic sports game
experience, there’s nothing better than NFL Street Vol. 2.
In the original
game, I always picked the players with the best speed ratings. My QB couldn’t
pass much of anything, but that didn’t matter because my passes were almost
always intercepted anyway. It took speed and superb evasive skills to win
before. Vol. 2 changes everything by making each element more balanced.
Passing is no more important than running; tackling is no more important than
intercepting, etc. That’s how it needs to be. I wanted an NFL Street sequel
that forced me to think and strategize in new ways. EA listened.