“NFL Street,” EA’s smash-mouth take on playground football, dethroned “NFL Blitz” as the king of arcade-style sports games. While the title was nowhere near flawless, it brought a unique sense of style and fluidity to its design and gameplay. With “NFL Street 2,” the series barely moves forward from its auspicious beginnings.

The same urban atmosphere returns in the sequel, utilizing rapper Xzibit as a playable character and host of Own The Street mode.

Fans familiar with the first game will have no problem getting into the action. Gamers control teams of seven NFL players who play both offense and defense. In “Street 2,” taunting, hard hits and gravity-defying catches are commonplace. The first team to score 36 points wins, making each extra point or two-point conversion decision crucial.

Gamebreakers — the ability to make the player’s team nearly unstoppable for one drive — helped to differentiate “Street” from other NFL games on the market, and new to “Street 2” is the Gamebreaker 2.0, an automatic score or take away. Though visually impressive, the new Gamebreakers take too long to earn and have essentially the same effects as the original version of the skill.

One of the new features included in “Street 2” is the ability to jump on walls. As a player moves down the field, the gamer can make him run up on a wall to evade defenders and gain style points. This inclusion barely alters gameplay and is little more than cosmetic.

“Street 2” boasts an impressive array of game modes: from the create-a-player oriented Own The Street to playground-style pick-up games. As was the case with “NFL Street,” “Street 2” is at its best in multi-player game modes. The new mini-games add a different dynamic to multi-player, but pick-up games are still the centerpiece. Gamers get to divvy up NFL talent to form their teams — trading picks and making rosters. Unfortunately, “Street 2” fails to truly build upon the successful first entry in the series. However, it’s hard to fault EA for not tinkering too much with the solid foundations. “Street 2” still remains an engrossing multi-player title, even if most changes are inconsequential to the gameplay.

 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

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