THE 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa kicks off on Friday and, almost everyone is going to find something to do with football.

If you’re a self-professed Facebook junkie, well, you’re in for a stroke of good fortune. Social gaming is all the rage now on the Internet (anyone play Farmville?) and Facebook is just the place to get your World Cup fix.

This past week, I’ve been fiddling around with a new game I’ve discovered on Facebook entitled ”FIFA Superstars”.

I’m normally the type to stay away from any form of social gaming, especially the kind that’s on Facebook. I’ve had my fair share of invites to ”bite” friends or be part of a ”mafia” gang. But with the World Cup on, I figured, why not?

FIFA Superstars is an online football management game that’s played entirely on Facebook. Basically, you just need to create a fictional team which you manage, and then compete against other players on Facebook.

You start off with a fresh group of players. Let’s just say, they play football about as well as your average secondary school team (and have matching names to boot!). Obviously, with the dearth of talent in your team, you’re not going to be winning trophies anytime soon; so any manager will be looking to upskill his/her team. You can do this in three ways: buy new players, trade those you don’t need for better players, or train your existing ones to improve their skills.

The third option is the cheapest, but will only get you so far as talent is a finite resource. Let’s face it, no amount of training is going to make a talentless player the next Wayne Rooney. Still, the best option is to get a group of cheap players playing (and winning) against other cheap players, and earning some cash while you’re at it. This money can then be used to obtain better guys for the field.

In FIFA Superstars, everything is linked to real time. Putting your players through a stretching routine is going to take five minutes of your time. A 3-on-3 training match takes 12 minutes. Furthermore, the increases in skill you get by training erode over time. If you forget to log in for a couple of days, your players’ skills will plummet.

Like any online game, this gives the advantage to people who can actually afford to stay online and logged on to Facebook 24 hours a day.

There are a few types of matches you can play in — league matches where you play through a series of fictional leagues; Barclays Premiere League, where your players get to face-off against Liverpool, Manchester United and the rest of the BPL teams; and friendlies, which allow two players to go head-to-head for a quick game.

Each subsequent match earns you money and experience which will subsequently unlock new formations, training routines and facilities for purchase.

The matches themselves are familiar stat-based affairs. Each player on your team has a certain value for various statistics like ”attacking” or ”defending”. If you’re familiar with football management sims, the game takes the combination of statistics from your team, matches it with your tactics and computes a result. You get a nice little flash visualisation of the match if you’re bothered to watch. Otherwise, skip straight to the match results.

During World Cup Season, FIFA Superstars also includes a special FIFA World Cup mode where you can place predictions on the score line for real-life World Cup matches and win some in-game money to spend on better players.

Being a social game and all, your predictions can also be shared via a Facebook status update to let your friends in on the game as well. Right now, I’m predicting that France will beat Uruguay narrowly by 2-1.

So there you have it, a review of sorts for FIFA Superstars. Give it a go, you may like it. In any case, it’s always a bit of fun predicting which team wins in upcoming matches. Why not do it on Facebook?

Tell us what you think!

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