I'd suspect that Chad Johnson breathed a little sigh of relief when they chose him for the cover of NFL Street 3. That now puts him out of the running for a position on the box of its bigger brother, the perennial Madden, and the ominous omen of doom that accompanies it. That infamous curse which purportedly lands injuries and performance dips on the bold stars that grace the front of each year's edition may be a lot of superstitious nonsense, but it never pays to be too careful, you know. Instead, the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver gurns on the front of the last last-gen EA Big American football title. Look! There he is thrusting a multi-coloured football in our faces, flicking three of his digits at us in a gangsta-style pose. He's safe.
Certainly, he's an easy fit for the game inside: Johnson's showboating style on the pitch and his excessive touchdown celebrations are at the core of the NFL Street games, each of which desires to pull away the blanket of reserved sports professionalism that Madden snuggles up in for a grittier, bare basics version of the game. Fields are ad-hoc venues: grassed-over drive-ins, empty warehouses, and abandoned historical sites (and at least one street, worried pedants) with no crowds, no cheerleaders, just burly men easing out some aggression. Players lack padding, playing in mismatched jerseys, trash-talking their opponents with obligatory sass. Games are first-to-win challenges, lacking quarters, referees, punts or field goals.
Anyone who sniffed around Tiburon's last efforts will know the drill. New to this addition is an improved Game Breaker mode. After scoring a set number of points from successful manoeuvres, you gradually fill up a bar. When full, you can assign a special, near unstoppable, game-imbalancing special move to offensive and defensive plays. Also present, and adding to the wall-running feats introduced in the second game, NFL Street 3 introduces in-air play. Players can jump to aid in pitch passes or leap acrobatically onto and over the various objects that scatter the field. To that effect, advantage tokens and collectibles litter the impromptu gridiron, grabbed by a short hop into the sky.