The street football culture has played a huge part in shaping the careers of many top professional footballers, including the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Over the years, more and more street football and freestyle events have popped up though, creating a fair few stars of its own in the process. Developers Gamajun Games and SFL Interactive are ready to shine a spotlight on Séan Garnier, Liv Cooke, JaviFreestyle and others, with Street Power Football – or Street Power Soccer for those residing in North America – on Xbox One. Could Street Power Football fill that gaping hole left by the long-gone, but fondly remembered, FIFA Street series?
Absolutely not, in fact you’d probably be best firing up the FIFA Street instalment from eight years ago because Street Power Football delivers dated visuals and gameplay, which ultimately leads to a lack of fun. That’s really not ideal for a game priced near the higher end of the scale.
Street Power Football is very much an arcade-y game, but there’s still a real emphasis on trying to capture the showmanship of street football. That’s clear upon venturing into the single player career mode, Become King, which has a penchant for montages using in-game models and regular monologues from Séan Garnier before the events you’ll partake in. Now, it’s personal preference as to whether the drawn-out cutscenes involving Séan are worth watching, or not, however they are janky and poorly presented to the point that you will care little about the content.
The Become King mode sees you travel all around the world to compete in Street Power, Panna, Trick Shot and Freestyle events. Focusing on Street Power first, and it’s a five minute match where teams of up to three characters play against each other, trying to reach a score of five. In a bid to add a little spice to proceedings, consumables can be found on the pitch, giving whoever possesses them speed boosts, goalmouth blockades and more. A special meter builds up during the action to enable superpowers to be activated as well, such as unstoppable acrobatic volleys, teleportation and shots that stun the opposition. It should make for a thrilling and exciting battle between two teams, right? The harsh truth is that it plays quite badly.
For instance, reaction times are slow in terms of movements and performing actions, which often leaves you vulnerable to losing the ball and conceding goals. What doesn’t help matters is that the AI teammates – and the opponents – lack any sense, failing to protect the goalmouth or latch onto balls heading their way. It’s also quite boring to pull off tricks, considering there’s almost no control over the kinds of trickery used; you’re basically pressing X and seeing how it unfolds – rather clunkily, I might add. Given the lackadaisical AI and sluggish controls, the five minutes are never needed and either way, it’ll be over in around 60 seconds usually.
Then you’ve got Panna mode, a one-on-one duel which takes place within the confines of a cage. The nets are much smaller here, but aside from scoring goals, you can get closer to that magic point total of five even quicker by nutmegging the opponent. To achieve a coveted nutmeg, both participants play a mini-game where you must copy the on-screen inputs and do it swiftly in order to succeed. The novelty wears off rapidly, especially as your player stands gormlessly afterwards – even when you win the little face-off – allowing the other player to just have a free pop at goal. Utterly pointless.
So far, not good, but Trick Shot could offer a glimmer of hope. Here, you’ll have to aim at trash cans, bottles, cones and such with enough accuracy and power to knock them over. Points are earned for doing so, with extras awarded for style e.g. curved efforts and hitting multiple static objects in the same shot. The idea is decent, but it feels repetitive after a single event and every shot is basically hit and hope, with minor tweaks in the follow-ups.
Freestyle actually has the promise to be a standout mode, because there’s a focus on rhythmic button pressing as you showcase your talents. Essentially, tricks must be performed by using various button combinations and then timed inputs keep the trick going, thus earning more points for your skills. The difficulty comes in the fact that the point targets are hard to achieve early on due to a lack of tricks in your arsenal. Additional tricks unlock through gaining experience, but then it gets trickier to remember the most point-rewarding inputs. It’s also a tad disheartening when the game gets confused as to whether you’ve pressed buttons in succession or simultaneously, which is off-putting. While Freestyle is the best of the bunch, it’s still not much cop.
All of these modes are available to play as a one-off game by yourself beyond Become King, while the same can be said in regards to the local multiplayer options with the exception of Trick Shot. If you’re expecting much from the online side, then please be aware that your only choice there is Street Power mode against someone you know – there’s no matchmaking so you have to know a person who owns the game and invite them in.
In the interest of fairness, there are a couple of aspects Street Power Football manages to do well. The music included is spot on, with a mix of Lethal Bizzle, DJ Snake, Black Eyed Peas and even Snap, coming together to create street culture vibes. Furthermore, the caricature art style of the real and fictional freestylers, as well as the accentuated settings of Copenhagen, Rome, Seoul and more, work in trying to showcase its fun side – it still looks very dated though.
Street Power Football on Xbox One needs to be silky smooth and exciting like Lionel Messi, but instead is more akin to Phil Jones, slow and clumsy. Unfortunately it’s clunky, everything seems to lack polish, and you’ll be sick of each game mode in no time at all. I think it speaks volumes when the rare moments of joy arise from seeing the different environments or hearing a banging tune on the soundtrack. I wasn’t joking when suggesting FIFA Street – a last-gen game – is a better option.
Don’t waste your money on Street Power Football, just go and have a kickabout outside on your own. It’ll be way more enjoyable.