Preview Date: May 28, 2010
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Available now
With the 2010 World Cup in South Africa only two weeks away, Playfish has released its first collaboration with EA Sports, EA Sports FIFA Superstars. The Facebook game lets players slowly build up a team of real world soccer stars and take on some of the most famous clubs in the world. It's light on action, as you don't actually play any games, but instead focuses on the process of developing the best possible team.
You start out by naming your new club, which consists of a pre-selected number of real world players. From there the game gives you a number of different things to do. Chief among them, of course, is actually playing games. In FIFA Superstars you don't get to participate in the action, though you do have the option of watching if you want. When you enter a match you'll be treated to a slick, animated cut-scene that shows the highlights of the game. These look great, but can get repetitive since you'll be playing so many games. Thankfully, you have the option to skip them all together.
The outcome of each match is determined solely by stats: the better your team, the higher your chances of winning are. Currently, there are three different types of matches you can play in. There are league matches, which let you move up taking on increasingly more talented clubs, as well as friendly matches, where you can play against any of your Facebook friends who are also playing the game. You can even take on the best of the English Premier League, though it'll be a while before your team is good enough to square off against the likes of Liverpool or Manchester United. There's also an option to play in the 2010 World Cup, which is listed as "coming soon."
Winning matches not only lets you move up to higher tier leagues, but also nets you both experience and coins. Coins can be used to improve your club by purchasing additional players. You buy new players in groups, and there are three different talent levels -- gold, silver, and bronze -- with the better players costing more money. You can also use money earned to improve your stadium and renew your coach's contract.
In addition to buying new players, you can also improve your club through training. There are several different training exercises you can do, each of which takes a certain amount of time to complete. The longer it takes, the better the rewards. There's also an option to trade players, but this is currently available.
The game limits the amount you can play each day with a match credit system. You earn these credits over time, and they're necessary for playing games. It takes a few hours to earn new ones, ensuring that you'll have to keep coming back if you want to play. You can also earn credits via gifts from friends or by purchasing additional ones.
Really, FIFA Superstars is much more about managing a soccer team than it is actually playing soccer. Thankfully, this makes the game a great fit for Facebook. With numerous aspects to manage, there's plenty to do, and the game does a great job of making the process simple, even if you aren't a fan of the beautiful game. Expect a full review when more of the features, most notably the ability to play actual World Cup matches, are eventually rolled out.