Madden NFL Superstars Impressions

Posted September 3rd, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Madden NFL Superstars launched earlier this week on Facebook. The free-to-play management sim is supported by microtransactions and follows a similarly structured FIFA Superstars that arrived earlier this summer to big success.

After spending a few days with Madden Superstars my full thoughts on it follow, though as is the case with a game of this nature I can only report on the experience so far as there is no reachable end game. My impressions are based on not having spent any money on the game instead having played it organically and so far it has been a pleasant and enjoyable time.

Madden NFL Superstars uses a few different currencies. “Coins” are earned primarily through playing games and scrimmages and those can then be spent on card packs, stadium upgrades, and game changers. “Playfish Cash” is what, if one decides to put money into the game, will be purchased and can then be turned around to obtain those same things as well as game tickets and some exclusive game changers.

They designed things really well in order to keep people active and checking back in on the game frequently, or paying for the ability to speed through the progression. I know I’ve found myself checking in 5+ times a day since launch. There are “game tickets” which allow the team to play in the “season” and “pro league”. You earn a game ticket every two hours (real time) as well as a few other ways including winning the seasons and infrequently from scrimmages.

What this means is things are relatively balanced between friends. You can’t just sit and level up by playing it five straight hours. The more someone checks in throughout the day though the more ability to play games and increase practice points. A wall is hit when game tickets run out though if being active. At that point the ability to buy tickets is available. This isn’t necessary to do to progress it just provides the chance to move through a little faster if so desired.

When it comes to practicing the time allotted is also the time limit for it to be retrieved. So that five minute “forty yard dash” has to be retrieved within five minutes of its completion or the practice points expire. The longer stretches, say the eight hour practice, means those points would have to be claimed within the eight hours following its completion. You claim the practice points by starting another round of practice.

“Scrimmages” are allowed at a rate of one per day with your friends on Facebook. These are not about wins-losses necessarily, at least I haven’t seen anything that would make records matter, however it does keep track. What they do though is count for 30XP and 30 coins and the rare ticket. So playing through all of them each day is worth the time invested since there is no downside that comes with it.

The key to success, at least through the early stages, lies with the practice points. It accounts for a full third of the team’s overall rating. Each game played (not scrimmage) reduces the practice points by two. If that continues to dip then the team’s overall takes a big hit and it becomes more and more difficult to be victorious. If you are going to be on Facebook for a chunk of time, doing the five minute “forty yard dash” practice is the best deal. There is no coin charge and three points are earned every five minutes.

I’d also recommend not shelling out for the bronze or silver card packs. The players in those won’t be any better than the default players provided. If you practice up to 100/100 the default team should have a 75 overall rating and thus far that has meant being ranked higher than every team faced. At some point that 75 overall won’t be enough though and I’ll look at turning my coins around for gold or higher packs. Limited edition cards are pretty cool, providing a boost to the team overall rating, but they carry expiration dates. My LE Rex Grossman had only four days of life expectancy.

In the meantime spend some coins on game changers like the hail mary and 60 yard FG. In tightly contested games those come in handy to help seal a win or avoid a loss, and I see the potential waste of a ticket or two as hurting more than the cost of the game changers.

I am now into season five and at level nine and still cruising along. At level five the NFL Pro League opens up presenting another challenge…taking on NFL teams with certain requirements that have to be met before eligible to play each one. Those include meeting fan counts, having certain stadium upgrades, and beating all the teams prior on the way through the list.

So what did have I not liked so far about Madden Superstars? I’ve been a little unsettled by the lack of feedback during the sim especially at first. It only shows the scores that happen so there is no way to gauge what team is going to emerge with a score next or if the next update is going to be that the score is final. The images that display for each score are incredibly generic, it would be nice to at least have the team colors incorporated. I wish there was more variety in the initial players provided for the roster. Pretty much every scrimmage has my team going up against another with Rex Grossman, David Carr, or Brodie Croyle. I also feel like it would have been good to offer individual cards with coin values instead of just the packs.

Otherwise so far I’m enjoying Madden NFL Superstars quite a bit and I’ve gotten hooked into progressing and seeing what comes next. The season set up and NFL league give clear goals, the practicing and game changer elements fit well, and best of all it doesn’t feel like spending money is necessary to do well. Given that there is no cost to get involved I would recommend anyone with an interest in this type of game to give it a shot.