If it seems like it hasn’t been that long since NFL Street made its debut, it’s because it was less than a year ago. Yet, here we are with another installment in the series that was inspired by the popular NBA Street and it feels more like a "1.1" than a "2". There are very few improvements to correct the original titles flaws and the additions to game play are few and far between.
If you’ve played the original Street, you’ll remember all of the game play that’s present here – style moves, simple playbooks, breaking tackles, and the horrid gamebreaker options – are back. The single largest change since the first are the wall moves which basically amount to perform certain button actions when you’re near a wall to either catch a ball off the wall or avoid tacklers by running on it. You get bonus style points here as well.
Perhaps the greatest weakness of NFL Street 2 is the intermingled style and gamebreaker (and, the new and improved gamebreaker 2) systems. You’re awarded style points for making particular moves or hot-dogging on your way to the end zone. And while it may be somewhat fun to taunt your best friend as you’ve just run over his forehead and are scampering towards the end zone, it simply doesn’t make all that much sense here. Sure, you have a few onlookers depending on where you’re playing, but who’s judging these moves and why do they affect your team’s future ability to score on a big play? The style moves would’ve been nice for use against multiplayer opponents and the like and they are an integral part of "faking out" your opponent. It should have been left there. Instead, you build your way to the gamebreaker and gamebreaker 2 rewards that can drastically affect game play. In the single player mode, for example, you might need to score a particular amount of points first in order to defeat the scenario. If you’re tied and your opponent gets to the gamebreaker 2 reward first (the style points are drastically skewed towards the offense, so getting the ball first or last makes a difference), he is fairly certain to score an automatic touchdown and defeat you. Jeopardizing almost certain TD’s in order to spin off a few extra style moves to get extra style points almost seems silly and certainly prone to wondering why one would have to do such a thing.
With that minor rant aside, NFL Street 2 is an excellent "pick up and play" game that has an arcade feel to it. The playbook is extremely easy to understand and the defensive players not under your control are reasonably intelligent. The game is played at a frantic pace and it’s all good. Of course, the game modes of the past are still here, namely the NFL Challenge (wherein you challenge NFL team players on the street), the pickup game, and the newest mode called "Own the City" wherein you battle for supremacy of the street. This mode is somewhat similar to the older NFL Challenge mode and suffers from the same deficiencies as its previous incarnation. Both of these modes suffer from being terribly long and filled with challenges that can sometimes be less than entertaining when you’ve already accomplished them on a previous level. Perhaps the strongest mode is the mini-games, which include games such everyone’s old school favorite, "kill the guy with the ball" and other drill based games.
NFL Street 2 tries terribly hard to be cool, as well, using street jargon that might fly on a basketball court but the trash talking here seems out of place. And it’s not just limited to characters talking crap but even with in game graphics that try to be hip. For example, upon completion of a first down, the screen lights up with "Movin’ Da Chains". Ugh. It feels horribly contrived and misguided. Though, the hip hop and rock soundtrack that accompanies the game feels less out of place, you still can’t shake that feeling that it just doesn’t belong here. Equally, the characters’ one-liners would be better if they’d be one line less. They simply aren’t all that funny and become painful to listen to over time.
NFL Street 2 isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination and it’s certainly worthwhile for those that haven’t bought the first. If you’re looking for a quick game against another opponent who doesn’t have any experience, you’ll turn to this well before you’d turn to Madden or NFL2K5 and probably have a lot more fun for it. On the flip side, if you already have the first incarnation or are looking for something more serious, this is a definite pass.
Note that this review was generated from both the Xbox and PS2 revisions of the software. Both games control remarkably well on either platform with the only decided advantage of noticeably better graphical impact going to the Xbox version.