Football Superstars Game Review
With a spate of interest for the sport of Soccer and in particular the FIFA World Cup occurring over the last couple of months, its time to take a look at a free-to-play MMO soccer simulation, known as Football Superstars. In it, you take on the role of a rising football star, gaining experience through matches and eventually earning your prestige for a player managed club.
The free-to-play model helps alleviate any mitigating problems that newcomers may find with the games under polished nature and its surprisingly tight control scheme and gameplay engine really help to create a resonating single player experience. Although it contains some striking in-game advertisements and murky micro-transactions, the game never forces them on you and its almost resplendent, given the context at least.
Setting of the Football Superstars Game (4 out of 5)
The idea of being a single player on a football pitch isn’t an entirely new one. Half Life mods like International Online Soccer or to a lesser degree big money titles such as FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer have tried to incorporate the fundamentals of being one man in a team.
However they often fall short in part due to a lack of contextual advancement or character development behind being that one person among many.
That’s where the auspices of Football Superstars and its MMO grinding structure come into play. To progress and get better you have to play football, the more you play and score etcetera, the better things you can unlock and the more your attributes will level up.
This levelling system compliments the idea of a progressing footballer, rising through the ranks of his local team (of which there are 4 to choose from with the suspiciously named Ashtun Forest and Caldefax Thistle being the most populated as of now), eventually conquering Division 1 through practice and skill.
Aesthetics of Football Superstars (3 out of 5)
Quite the departure for an independently developed MMO, the 3D has a nice detailed aesthetic with some time going into player animations and on the pitch motion. Due to the control scheme and its complimenting nature, the animations feel right and have a weight in keeping with the actions you perform, whether thats a slide tackle or short sprint.
Walking around the social area, filled with PUMA adverts and some sparse European decor, there are places to upgrade fame through interviews with reporters and TV crews, shops for buying boots and other items with buffs on them, gyms in which to upgrade base attributes like strength or agility and their are night spots to buy alcohol and raise your fame.
There is a surprisingly compact yet rewarding amount of things to do in this familiar space, although as previously stated, the meat of the Football Superstars game comes through playing matches in an instanced stadium. Although the gameworld is small, the focus on playing football as opposed to the social aspects of MMO’s is a nice departure, with a clear definition on what you should be doing with your time inside the world instead of being hampered by the perils of many clustered social areas found in other MMO’s.
Gameplay of Football Superstars (4 out of 5)
When players enter the game, they have to go through some rudimentary tutorials, showing them how to tackle, shoot, pass and do skills et al. After this the player will build upto level 10 by playing “Amateur Matches”, 5-on-5 beginners games basically, which help to provide an introductory plateau for the game. After getting to level 10, the player is now forced to play for his club team of choice in Division 4, the lowest league currently in the game.
These club matches directly influence the league table and where your chosen team ranks, using an ELO system to rate recent results, games become more regulated and start to be enjoyable because of players positional awareness. Instead of the amateur melee’s often found early on, these club matches take form due to players enjoying their defined roles, either finding themselves as a wing forward, midfielder or lone centre-back.
Gameplay Mechanics of the Football Superstars Game
After reaching level 25, the players then compete in Division 3 in 7-a-side matches, this occurs every 25 level upto 75 thereafter. Once at 75, players will entertain 11-a-side Division 1 matches, playing at the pinnacle of the Football Superstars game.
This onus on teamwork is one of the key reasons Football Superstars is unique, insofar as Soccer or Football games go, with a guild like fashionability to the team system. In game, tackling and timing is often important, with shooting hard to master initially. Often newer players will find their shots sailing over the crossbar and into the sparse crowd behind. Fortunately given time, the upgrading of attributes and general experience will yield some positive results, with players be able to score and tackle with aplomb.
With attributes covering many different footballing mechanics, such as pass timing or hardiness, the need to map out some kind of character spec may be required. Although at the lower end of the game it seems all skills will be required as you’ll be constantly ferried around the pitch in several positions.
Overall Rating for Football Superstars MMO (4 out of 5)
With a welcome control scheme, well made graphical touches with steely animations and a teamwork based gameplay system, the Football Superstars game is a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Playing as one man may have been a staple of the last two editions of Pro Evolution Soccer and even FIFA, but the emphasis on development and playing with real people as opposed to some spotty AI, helps Football Superstars stand out.
Some underhand micro-transactions and monthly payments sully the free-to-play license somewhat, but it can be ignored completely, without any real detriment. If only everybody would accept playing centre-back instead of clambering to play as a striker, then Football Superstars could lay claim to being an excellent release, its a shame that its biggest downfall is also its best. People.
This post is part of the series: Football Superstars
A collection of articles on Football Superstars.