Madden NFL Superstars: Everything you need to know
EA Sports released its second sports game on Facebook yesterday with developer Playfish, Madden NFL Superstars. With over 2,800 fans in just one day, let's just say that if you're a fan of football (or even fantasy football for that matter), you should give the game a shot. The title has a surprisingly high amount of depth and content as well as the classic aesthetic that captures the feel of Madden.
Join us behind the cut as we "go deep" into what Madden NFL Superstars is all about.
Logging into the game greets you with the same uplifting, intense Madden tunes that you're used to-complete with goofy guitar riffs. You're then tasked with creating your team name and logo by perusing through 46 different images with hundreds of color combinations. If you end up not liking the look or name of your team, you're allowed to change it at any time.
Madden NFL Superstars' tutorial is simple enough, taking you through the steps of team management and a few tips for how to stay on top. Managing an entire team seems overwhelming and, dare we say, boring. But once you get into the groove of playing games and training your team members, you'll be making touchdowns on kickoff returns with ease.
The Home Screen
After the tutorial, you'll reach the home screen that will greet you each time you log in from here on out. The home screen is essentially a snapshot of your stadium ( did we mention that you're an owner too?) with your options and team information such as your level, your team's practice level and rating as well as your coins and Playfish Cash. Here are your options:
- Play: Allows you to choose from four game modes including Season, NFL Pro League, Scrimmage and Predictor.
- Practice: Set your team through practice drills between games to accumulate practice points, which temporarily increase your team's rating.
- Team: Manage your team's offensive and defensive line ups. Each player is represented by a playing card, complete with stats and overall rating.
- Store: Purchase player packs, stadium upgrades, Game Changers, Game Day Tickets and Playfish Cash.
- Achievements: Displays your achievements thus far such as season trophies and Super Bowl rings from Pro League.
Managing Your Team
While appears daunting at first, getting your team into peak performance is easier than it looks. Each of your team members is actually a playing card that represents a real NFL player. These cards include statistics such as Strength, Speed and Awareness, but what truly matters is the player's overall rating. The average of both your offense's and defense's ratings amounts to your team rating.
However, to increase this rating you'll have to do a few things: purchase new player packs with either coins or Playfish Cash, practice, practice... and practice some more. While you can always save your coins to buy better player packs, keeping your practice level at 100 will always give you an edge on the competition (it accounts for 33 percent of your team rating!). Here's how the game breaks down player packs:
- Bronze Pack: Lowest-rated players for 10,000 coins or 8 Playfish Cash
- Silver pack: Lower level players for 20,000 coins at Level 5 or 18 Playfish Cash
- Gold Pack: Mid-range players are locked until Level 10 or cost 30 Playfish Cash
- Platinum Pack: High level players are locked until Level 15 or go for 55 Playfish Cash
- Ultimate Pack: The best players are locked until Level 20 or ask for 80 Playfish Cash
What makes this game appealing to casual football fans is that team management can be automated with the "Assign Best Players" button. This feature takes your highest-rated player cards and automatically puts them in position. As you buy high level players, you can always sell your lower-rated cards for extra coins, but always keep some second stringers-limited edition players have timers on them.
Practice, Practice, Practice
This is essentially what will keep you winning games more than anything in Madden NFL Superstars. Currently, there are six drills available and only one can be in progress at any time. Each drill rewards a certain number of practice points and costs a relative amount of coins, but it's never an unreasonable amount.
Seems easy enough, right? Well, there's always a catch. Each practice drill lasts for a set amount of time and to reap the benefits of the drill, you need to queue another session within a short time after the previous. In other words, if you miss the end of your practice drill, you won't get any points. Considering these points are vital to your team's success, you'll need to schedule your practice drills according to your availability. On the up side, there's no penalty to missing a drill aside from wasted time.
So, why should you keep up on practice aside from keeping your team's rating at maximum? Every game you play between practices reduces your team's rating by one point. While your rating can never drop past the average of your players' ratings, you'll want the best possible team rating to stay competitive.
The first type of game you'll encounter is the season game. Each season must be completed before the next can be accessed and they increase in difficulty with each team's rating increasing gradually. However, playing games costs a resource known as Game Day Tickets. These tickets automatically replenish every two hours with a maximum of four free tickets available at any time. You're also awarded free tickets for leveling up. To increase the max amount of tickets at your disposal, you'll have to pay up-in cash.
They way games work within Madden NFL Superstars is when you decide to play a team you're able to size up the competition using the "Scout" button. But for the average player, simply comparing your team's overall rating to the opposition is usually enough to gauge a victory or defeat. A general rule of thumb is to never challenge a team that's within five points of your team rating if you want the best chance at victory.
Pressing the "Play" button activates a series of animations that seem to be randomized based off the two teams' ratings. The games cut out all of the boring stuff like penalties and first downs to get right to the goods: the scores. You could just sit back and enjoy the show, but every play and turnover counts. This is where your players' ratings come into play.
For example, there are times that when against teams of poor offense, you'll shut them down for a quarter. When two teams are evenly matched-generally around the end of a season-the games will definitely be closer and you won't see as many two-point conversions or kickoff touchdown returns.
If you're feeling adventurous, you're free to challenge teams that evenly match you, but we wouldn't recommend stepping onto the field without some Game Changers. These power plays cost either coins or Playfish cash and can be used at any time during a game to change the tide in your favor.
Each Game Changer shows its chance of success and the amount of points it will award you such as the Kickoff Touchdown Return, which at 2,500 coins or 3 Playfish Cash guarantees you seven points whenever you choose to activate it. While seven points right off the bat sounds useful, you should probably wait until around the third quarter to use one. This is because you either might not need it by then or it could put the ball in the opposing team's hands when you might need it most.
Pro League Games
Unlocked at Level 5, Pro League games pit you against the real NFL teams for the ultimate prize: a Super Bowl Ring. Each game requires two Game Day Tickets and other requirements such as stadium upgrades or a certain number of fans (which can be earned through gifts or purchased) as well as defeating the previous team. Aside from these requirements and what's at stake, Pro League games play exactly like regular Season games.
These games are played with your friends in the same way you would a season game, but can only be played once every 24 hours and cost no Game Day Tickets.
This feature allows players to predict the winners of each week's games in the real NFL season with point markers for each match up. If your predicted team wins, you'll win the same amount of points that you bet on the team ranging from one to 16 points.
Winners will receive prize packs ranging from coins to player cards and Game Day Tickets. However, each week the opportunity to predict the winnings will lock one hour before the first game of each week, so no cheaters allowed!
Madden NFL is Everywhere... Even on Facebook
It was pretty disappointing to find out that Madden NFL 11 was even on iOS before coming to Facebook, but EA Sports and Playfish had us fooled all along. What we got for our long wait is an extremely deep game with a surprisingly simple interface and impressive production value.
However, putting a 24 hour limit on free scrimmage games restricts the social play (isn't that what social gaming is all about?). It's a bit depressing to imagine the possibilities of player-driven leagues when we're limited to playing with our friends once daily. If EA Sports and Playfish want Madden NFL Superstars to remain competitive in the turbulent world of social gaming, they'll see the light.
While progressing through the game's seasons and Pro League might go at a snail's pace if you choose not to pay up, there is almost always something to do between daily scrimmage games and keeping up with practice. Madden NFL Superstars keeps things exciting while remaining grounded in reality by incorporating the league's real players and teams as well as including the quasi-fantasy football feature, Predictor. Come to think of it, this game seems like a ton more fun than spreadsheets and lost bets.