FIFA Street 3
It seems that where Liverpool and England’s ‘Baddy Long Legs’, Peter Crouch, is fair game; Barcelona and Brazil’s miracle-working golden boy of world football, Ronaldinho, is out of bounds. See, as you’ve probably already noticed, FIFA Street 3 has introduced an eye-catching new visual style to the series, with each of its 250 players a cartoonish caricature of his real-life self. The whole point of caricatures is to exaggerate distinctive features, and few players have more distinctive features than Ronaldinho. We reckon he has about 32 – they’re big, they’re white (ish), and they don’t all point in the same direction. They’re his teeth.
You’d think that Ronaldinho would be every caricature artist’s dream subject – that’s an overbite that’s just crying out to be over-exaggerated – but it looks as if this particular caricature artist has received orders from above. “You are welcome to make Crouch look as skinny, lanky and skeletal as you want, and if you want to give Gattuso a tiny head and huge body, go ahead, but when you do Ronaldinho you’re not a caricaturist any more, you’re a dentist,” he was probably told.
Whatever the reasons behind Ronaldinho’s immunity from artistic mockery (it’s probably safe to assume that EA felt a truly caricatured Ronny adorning the box would have scared potential buyers away) there’s one feature of every player in the game that has been exaggerated – one that’s unlikely to cause any offence or revulsion – their skills on the ball. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the twinkle-toed attacking midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo, or the colossal Greek defender Traianos Dellas, you can still run along walls, keep the ball up in the air even while running with it, kick it so hard it leaves a trail of light (or even fire) in its wake, and perform all manner of outlandish tricks and flips.
The combination of oddball-looking players and superhuman soccer skills makes FIFA Street 3 funny to look at, and it can even be quite fun to play, much more so than any of its predecessors, anyway. But it’s still very limited and shallow and, thanks to some extremely weak opponent AI, only really any good for the odd multiplayer kickabout now and then. Once the novelty of the game’s look (and the novelty of playing a FIFA Street game that at least isn’t terrible) has worn off, it’s likely to remain untouched but for the occasional post-pub session where, presumably thanks to a somewhat extended in-pub session, regular FIFA (or PES, if you’re so inclined) seems too much like hard work.