Football Superstars Review – Virtual Sport, Real Competition
Football Superstars is a Soccer MMO that launched early 2009, with the aim of bringing fully real-time Soccer to players around the globe. The game was originally created and ran by Monumental Games and Cybersports (CS), more recently Cybersports have taken full control of the MMO with the new development teams first patch due out before Christmas…
A number of other MMO’s touched on the Soccer genre; with Kicks Online (KO) and Empire of Sports (EoS) being among the most popular, but neither of these titles really came close to what Football Superstars has to offer its players. With the soccer player base of EoS and KO dying out over time, Football Superstars has become the place to be for all sports and soccer fans.
The game works in a similar way to most MMO games, you create your character and play matches to advance in various aspects. You collect Football Superstar Dollars (FSD), experience and fame as you level up which allows you to purchase and upgrade abilities, unique skills and sports equipment as well as being interviewed to increase your fame level. Two aspects create the world of Football Superstars, there is the “Lifestyle” world, which is a small town where you perform out of match actions like purchasing items and chatting with the community and then there are the matches themselves where you actually get to play soccer.
The Lifestyle world is a nice touch but it does lack any defining features. Usually with games like this you would expect a lot more than just a few NPC’s to interact with and a couple of stores to purchase your gear from. The area itself is quite impressive and backed by quality graphics but the content is scarce and makes the Lifestyle world feel more like a glorified game lobby rather than a unique part of the game. The community has come forward with many ideas to beef up Lifestyle, change of hairstyles; crafting systems etc hopefully something will be added sometime in the future to make Lifestyle a bit more unique with quality content and activities.
Although the Lifestyle world leaves you feeling a bit empty, people don’t download the game to run around a 3d environment, they join to play soccer. You load into a match and instantly notice a huge stadium, complete with spectators, sponsorship boards and even a Puma video playing on a jumbo tron. You’re sitting on a pitch with up to 20 human players at a time, each one trained in their position to be as deadly as possible; do you have the ability to cancel out their star winger? Are you the striker that will score the winning goal? It is these types of questions that drive the game, with every player on the field hoping to make an impact. When it comes to making you feel like a pro virtual soccer player, Football Superstars delivers. It wouldn’t be able to do this if it wasn’t for the total control of your player on the field. Football Superstars gives you a large number of ways to play the game. It has automatic passes, manual passes, in-depth crossing mechanics, advanced shooting mechanics and soon to be new camera angles and full control pad support which really allows each player to create their own unique playstyle. The match engine can seem a little slow when compared to the likes of Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer, but it does give the game its own unique feel with a simulation approach over that of an arcade one. The only real disappointment with the matches themselves is the lack of interesting audio and sound effects. The crowd repeats the same muffled chants, the players are practically mute and a football hitting a metal goalpost at 30mph is silent, it’s not a major part of the game but it would really help towards immersion that so many MMO players rant about.
You begin your journey to soccer stardom as a lowly amateur player working your way up to the big leagues through blood, sweat and overhead kicks. The game does have quite a steep learning curve, especially if you’re not familiar with Soccer, but the tutorial is great and will explain most of the things you need to know before making your way out of the Amateur League. As you play more games and progress through the levels, you gain access to better leagues, larger matches and bigger rewards. There is also the option of joining a Player Managed Club (PMC) which is basically a guild or clan with a similar function to other MMO‘s. The PMC scene is arguably Football Superstars‘ best attribute with hundreds of teams formed and regularly playing in official leagues and cup competitions.
One of the most unique parts of Football Superstars is the community of players that inhabit it. I’ve played my fair share of online games over the last 15 years but I have never seen a community with such a dedicated core group of players. You still find the occasional whine and complaint as you would with any other MMO but for the most part, the forums are filled with great suggestions and feedback with plenty of interesting game related topics to discuss.
Football Superstars has never really got the attention it deserves, it occupies a unique genre in the MMO world and offers it all with a Free 2 Play model but it wasn’t until a few months ago that the community really started to grow. It has its fair share of problems, there are balancing issues with some of the stats as well as some core match mechanics needing an overhaul but in general the game is great fun to play, and offers something you won’t find in any other current MMO.
A new development team, a new plan, the future of Football Superstars is in their hands.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PC version of Football Superstars