EA Sports FIFA Superstars brings soccer management to Facebook

Just in time for the World Cup of Soccer, EA has launched EA Sports FIFA Superstars – a Facebook version of one of the company’s most popular and successful sports game franchises. This is no arcade sports game, however, but a soccer management sim that – if you can adjust your expectations of what you expect a FIFA title to be – actually shows a great deal of promise.

Over the years I’ve played FIFA on a half-dozen different game systems – console, handheld and cell phone – and all of them involved actually playing virtual soccer games by passing, shooting, scoring, defending and tackling while toggling between all the players on the field. So when I played my first match in EA Sports FIFA Superstars I was a bit surprised as I watched an entire match unfold before my eyes without my having to lift a finger.

EA Sports FIFA Superstars

The matches themselves are actually one of the least exciting things about FIFA Superstars – in fact, if you want to you can skip them altogether. What the game is really all about is the numbers. If your team’s stats are better than the team you’re pitted against, then you’ll probably win. The fun part is in managing your team to get those stats as high as possible.

As manager you’ll supervise your team’s training, purchase improvements for your home stadium, hire and fire players, choose which players to sub in or out on a given day, and set the game-day roster.

When you’ve whipped your team into top shape (or as good as you can get them working within the limitations of time and coins), you can challenge other teams in league matches. You start in the junior leagues and as you win you’ll move up the ranks with the ultimate goal of competing in the Premier League. A 2010 FIFA World Cup league is visible from the menu but not currently accessible.

EA Sports FIFA Superstars

The game uses two currencies: regular coins that you earn in the game, and Playfish Cash, the premium currency that you have to purchase with real-world money. It looks like all the important things to do in the game (such as adding new players, upgrading the stadium, and so on) can be done using either (a lot of) coins or (far fewer) Playfish Cash – with the exception of matches.

You can only play a limited number of matches per day before you have to wait for the countdown timer to recharge, unless you want to buy more matches with Playfish Cash. You can also ask friends for help (which posts a message to your Facebook news feed), receive them as gifts, or earn them by playing friendly matches against Facebook friends who have also added the application.

EA Sports FIFA Superstars

Although it might not be the FIFA experience some people are used to from EA, EA Sports FIFA Superstars seems perfectly suited to the Facebook platform. The fact that friends can challenge each other to matches is a great example of social interactions that go beyond gifting or visiting each other – and apparently players trades are something that will be rolled out in the future too.

Perhaps the best part is that the gameplay, although statistics-heavy, is surprisingly easy to get the hang of even for someone who isn’t all that familiar with soccer.