<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/intro14.jpg”>For those of you who don’t follow football (the round ball, not the pig skin), the UEFA Champions League pits the crème-de-la-crème of European club football against each other for one of the most prestigious trophies in the world.
Football games generally require management, a fair understanding of the beautiful game or some impressive reaction times. Star Player is slightly different, and plays out in real time alongside the football match you’re watching at home, in the pub or round a friend’s house. Heineken calls it “dual screening” – sitting in front of the TV, watching the match and fiddling with your mobile. Now you can marry the two with Star Player, a free Facebook and iOS app that tests your knowledge and judgement, in real time.
Please note that landscape images depict the Facebook version and portrait images depict the iPhone version.
How It Works
The Star Player app only allows you to play along when the football is on. Unfortunately this will not be for all major football matches, so forget playing along with the Premiership, Bundesliga and so on – this is top-notch European football only, and that’s because Heineken sponsors it.
10 minutes prior to the big match, players are able to join and wait in queue for kick off to begin. Once kick off begins, a timer appears on the screen (be it your PC via Facebook or your iOS device) which is synchronised with the time shown on your television. Whilst there can be slight inaccuracies in the time on your iOS device or laptop, you’re only at a disadvantage if your clock is behind; and it’s easy to re-sync.
Heineken Star Player is human controlled, and not an automated process. For each and every game there is an expert behind the scenes, controlling what appears on your screen.
During the match you will be presented with a number of Match Moments where input is required from yourself regarding a moment of play. For example, when the ball goes out for a corner you might be prompted to choose one of four options – Goal, Saved, Cleared and Missed. All you’ve got to do is second-guess the game, and if you’re right you get some points.
There’s also a 30 Second Goal button with 8 chances (plus one extra via a power up) per match. If you think someone’s about to score (either team) and you’ve hit your 30 second goal button, you’ll be glued to the TV willing your overpaid idols to score. The earlier you hit the button, the more points you get.
You might also (during duller moments of the game) get a few trivia questions pop-up. These are generally Heineken-tinged, but fun nonetheless – did you know it takes 78 regular-sized bottles of Heineken to fill the UEFA Champions League trophy? Nor did I, but it was a lucky guess.
Points, Power Ups & Badges
Your points are not only added to your Star Player profile, allowing you to keep track of your progress, but also help rank you amongst your friends. As well as a global leaderboard, fans are able to create their own 24-man leagues from within the app. These are free and unfortunately do not offer prizes; just a chance to brag. If your mates have already established a league, it’s easy to join too.
In order to aid you on your trivia quest, 2 Who Wants To Be A Millionaire-style “Power Ups” are provided to help you – a 50:50 (taking away two wrong answers) and Max Points (if you’re sure of your answer use it and you’ll score top marks). Your final power-up is an additional 30 Second Goal chance – use them wisely.
As you complete certain criteria, you will be awarded Badges (a bit like Xbox Live Achievements and Foursquare Badges). These are displayed on your profile, and whilst they don’t really serve any external purpose it’s fun to keep track of your performances.
Tactics or Guesswork?
The real question is whether the game relies on tactics or complete luck – and it probably depends how much you like football. If you eat, sleep and breathe the beautiful game then you’ll probably find Star Player tests both knowledge of football and your ability to read the game you’re watching.
Waiting to find out exactly who will be taking the free kick, penalty or corner pays off (provided you’re familiar with the players). The 30 Second Goal button becomes hard to resist when you see a textbook cross, promising run or simply feel that goal is just round the corner.
Then again if you’re not a massive football fan, the game holds some promise there too. You don’t need any knowledge of the game to play along and the most you have to choose from in one action is four options – so you’ve got a 25% chance on every question.
The fact that Star Player is free is as good a reason as any to try out some pretty impressive, real time tech. There’s not an awful lot left of this year’s Champions League, but the Star Player app will continue next year giving you plenty of time to rack up the points.
Star Player makes for a great companion to a football match, without being too distracting. Well-timed Match Moments, fun trivia questions and a great competitive element should appeal to football fans and casual viewers alike.
One quick last tip – if you’re playing on an iPhone or similar, you’ll need a fair chunk of battery (50%) to make it through the full 90 minutes (maybe more if it goes to extra time and penalties).
Are you interested in real time football games? Will you try out Star Player? Who will win the 2011 UEFA Champions League? Let us know in the comments below.