I haven't really had much time for the NFL Street series to be honest. That might be a bit of a shame in a way because I can't compare the next game in the series, to the last. All I have to go on are the opinions of gamers like me and their friends, word of mouth counts for a lot out beyond the shiny glass corporate towers of the big game magazines and sites.
So rather than bore you with what has been, we're going to focus on what is in the game. EA Sports has a habit of taking previous titles and adding a little spin to each one, but ultimately they're just the same as the ones that have gone before with a little feature tweaked or a new control method added.
Ooh, new shoes in NFL Street 2 (Note: I don't know if there are new shoes) I have to buy the special edition of the game to get those! See what I mean?
But as far as I can tell NFL Street 3 actually has a real re-design and playability changes that affect the way the game works compared to the previous titles. EA might just have hit the nail on the head with this one, because it's fun, at least I think its fun and the people that played with me and watched it thought it was fun too.
And that is the most important thing, having fun.
So without further ado, here's the gist of the game. For a PS2 game it's not a bad looking game, the graphics are sharp and the gameplay is pretty fast/frenetic. You have a single player career mode (Respect the Street) that focuses on building up your crew of badass players.
It's like of like the Need for Speed series has become, boosting your respect to unlock new team members, skills and talent. Once you begin you start out with a pretty rubbish crew and you don't have the power to take on most of the teams in the game, win a few matches though and things will start to turn around. Eventually you'll be able to make a crew worthy of respect and take on the big NFL players, which is the point of the mode.
You have Exhibition Games, where you can set the game up how you want. You even have other game modes to play with, with names like: Crush the Carrier, Open Field Showdown. Bank matches are new to this series according to one of the NFL Street 2 players along with Defensive Scoring, Time Attack and Playbook Elimination
Each of these modes plays differently and presents a different challenge to the player. In the end though they are kind-of variations on a theme and they don't quite have the staying power of the single player game.
It's not all good stuff in NFL Street 3. The graphics are nice as I previously mentioned, but the generic characters are a bit lifeless. They are some hang-ups where the players get caught on the scenery at times and sometimes they just pass through certain parts of it.
The AI is cheap as well, it has a repeat move (the lateral) that it'll keep on using time and time again, and these cheap shots lessen the game for me and take some of the edge off the fun.
I'm told that they redesigned the Gamebreakers, powerful moves that give you a searing edge over your opponent, from the other games. In previous titles these power moves were triggered in a cut-scene, the good news (or bad) is that they're now part of the game in real-time and you can have your moves blocked or cancelled if the opposition times their counter correctly.
There's also an increase in aerial moves to give you more hangtime, coupled with the ability to use boxes and so on to leap up. There are bonuses scattered all around as well and these can be boosts to certain things or extra cash to purchase some new gloves or shoes.
A nice little bonus but nothing that really adds substantial meat to the game, they don't offer any upgrades or additional stats; they just make your character look good. This is all right for someone that likes to collect upgrades and change their clothes GTA style, but wasn't for me.
One thing that hurts the game is the removal of custom character creation, which helped to identify the player with the in-game character. I didn't like modifying existing characters but I'd rather have had some modification than none at all.
The camera can be a little tricky too, pulling out at the wrong time or zooming close in when you really needed a wider view of things. I noticed that the game will sometimes pick the wrong character for you to especially on defence, this was frustrating.
In fact I would go as far to say that this game is a fun but frustrating addition to the series (I will be checking out Street 1 and 2 given a chance to see what I missed) and even though it has some annoyances it's still worthy of a purchase.