Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 14, 2006
Sport simulations are a dime a dozen, but it's the ones that can push the boundaries just a bit past reality that make for great gaming. NFL Street 3 is a light-hearted and entertaining game of street football that requires a bit of coordination, speed and luck to master. A variety of gameplay modes (Exhibition, Respect the Street, and multiplayer) allow you to move away from conventional football and into some wild sports/arcade action. You can play a quick customized game or take your game more seriously by advancing through multiple cities and teams in the Respect the Street mode. Most modes in NFL Street 3 are also available for head-to-head action through the PSP's wireless ad-hoc mode.
After setting up a player and customizing his appearance, I found it necessary to spend some time familiarizing myself with the controls and button sequences prior to jumping in to play. I found that NFL Street 3 has a fairly steep learning curve of about an hour just on the controls alone, but since the title includes a walk-through tutorial that helps players learn the sometimes-elaborate control combinations necessary to pull off some very unique offensive and defensive moves, I recommend that new players first select the "Tutorials Menu" option before starting. The tutorials are presented with a pass/fail design, which helps players make sure commands are understood and executed correctly prior to advancing to more difficult sequences. Even with some pre-planning, frustration levels may rise quickly. To help balance things out a bit, some game modes feature "user assist," an option that makes it easier for beginning players to keep up with the CPU.
In Exhibition, you'll have access to three game types: Pickup Game, Single Game and Street Event. The first two are very similar, except you have much more input regarding the points, rosters, field, and difficulty level when you're playing a pickup game. In Street Event, you can choose between: Crush the Carrier, a typical schoolyard "Kill-the-Pill" game, where you try to keep the ball as long as you can or tackle the person who has the ball; Jump Ball Challenge, which is similar to "3 Flies Up," where you show off your football receiving skills; Open Field Showdown, which is a one-on-one running game alternating between offense and defense; Two-Minute Challenge, a two-minute passing game; and 4-on-4, where you have five seconds from the snap to toss the ball and passers can't run. They're all a blast to play, but they're also quite challenging, so expect to lose often at first.
In Respect the Street, the main sequencing game mode in NFL Street 3, you'll earn or lose points depending on your performance. If your team is successful, you'll unlock teams, plays, maps and drills. Drills are an important feature because they'll help improve your team's overall performance. Players can cash in some of their development points by drilling to improve specific attributes. You'll discover that as you unlock maps across the country, new teams will become available to challenge you.
When in either the Exhibition or Respect the Street modes, NFL Street 3 features additional game types to make things more interesting. Besides the standard street football game, you can also play Bank, where style points are added to a "bank" and awarded to a team when it scores; Defensive Scoring, which is primarily focused on defensive actions, with players receiving points for various accomplishments; Play Elimination, in which both teams have similar playbooks, and failed plays are removed from the team's playbook; Time Attack, where each team has only one minute to score points and the remaining time is awarded as points; and Yard for Points, in which every passing yard is worth a point, while every rushing yard is worth two points.
The graphics in NFL Street 3 seem to hold up well on the PSP; you'll experience some pixel sparkling, but it's certainly not too distracting. Frame rates seem to keep up with the action, although even with the larger PSP widescreen, it is fairly easy to lose your player in the action. My only real issue with the visual presentation is that even at its highest brightness setting, it was often dark and difficult to see clearly. The majority of the fields are dark by nature, but I think even some of the daytime outdoor fields could be brighter. The interface is fairly easy to navigate, although you'll probably find yourself reading the reference manual to understand the differences between game modes since they're not clearly defined in the menu system. A nice plus is the soundtrack, which provides hard-driving rhythms — perfect for jamming and slamming your players.
NFL Street 3 is a feature-rich offering that can be both extremely entertaining and equally frustrating to play. The numerous game modes and types will keep players entertained for long periods of time if they're able to master the controls, and the availability of wireless head-to-head action is a big plus. Although the game is detailed with an easy-to-use interface, most fields weren't bright enough for me to see the action. If you enjoy arcade-style sports, you may want to see if NFL Street 3 is right up your alley.
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