Football Superstars is an ambitious attempt to make football into an MMO. Rather than controlling an entire team, you're in charge of an individual footballer, joining in games with other players online.
On the pitch, it's a strange hybrid of sport and team-deathmatch: you create your odd-looking character, select your team and hop into a game. In the starter amateur matches, the charm isn't immediately apparent, as everyone will try to be as individual as Ronaldo. They'll fail. It takes time to get used to the subtleties of controlling just a single player, understanding how the angle of the mouse selects the shot distance or when best to use your buffs (360- degree spins, feints).
But by level ten, the more experienced players have picked up the knack, and know how to position themselves. When things click, Football Superstars is a fun team game of foot-to-ball.
Off the pitch, it starts to come apart. The primary problem is levelling your character. Spending the in-game cash, FS Dollars, is the only way to use your overflowing experience points to gain new skills or increase your stats. You gain FS Dollars in a trickle by playing matches, where you earn about a measly 30-100 per ten minutes. Or you pay around 50p for a FS Bond, which converts to 1,000 FS Dollars.
The cheapest, most basic skill costs 500 FS Dollars – which would take an hour of what amounts to grinding to earn. Which path would you choose? It's all too apparent that those pumping money in to the game will become vastly superior in little time.
The only way to otherwise increase your in-game cashflow is through fame. You can raise your fame by doing interviews, or by boozing heavily. This is it, as far as MMO mechanics go: there's no crafting, no auction house, no quests, no social events, no respite or mercy from the football. The only social arenas to speak of are the Player Managed Clubs, which you're able to set up if you do decide to subscribe. Here, you can hire your friends to come and play with you in the custom strip you've made.
The 'massively' part of an MMO isn't really here, either: the world consists of only one small town, loosely populated by some skill trainers, as well as clothes shops and bars. None of which you actually want to pay a visit: they're all entirely deserted of both life and vaguely pleasing aesthetics.
Superstars is so ugly and empty off the pitch, with blatantly intrusive microtransactions ruining the levelling element, that I can't recommend you take more than a quick glance at it. It's a great free novelty, and can be fun in the right circumstances, but the polish and variety of activities just aren't there to make it worth forking out your money on.
Multiplayer football given a welcome new twist, but sadly surrounded by a shoddy, unengaging MMO world.