The football gaming market that we all know and love has been dominated by one supreme champion; you know who it is without thinking. EA and FIFA haven’t really had any challenger in years and because of this, it has, in my opinion, become a bit stale, with it being harder to open the wallet for each and every yearly edition. Yes there is PES, but for an overall package, nothing beats FIFA.
Now though there is a game that refuses to go toe-to-toe with the big dogs, and doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of the franchise models. However, it does hark back to the football games that furnished the arcades in the early 1990s, appealing to those who liked football when it was ‘proper’. Does Legendary Eleven on Xbox One play a blinder? Or does it throw us onto a muddy field on a rainy Tuesday evening in Morecambe?
Legendary Eleven is a cartoony version of the wonderful game and straight off the bat it is obvious that is the tone the developers at Eclipse Games have gone for. The title screen has a “Roy of the Rovers” feel to it with stylish characters in old kits from the glory days of football, and once past that you find yourself with a number of simple options to kick off with; a practice match, tournaments, challenges and, intriguingly, an online option. But how does it play?
Well, it’s not FIFA nor PES, and that’s what you need to get out of your head from the very start. The gameplay comes across at a much slower pace than you might usually be used to and the tactical prowess you would expect from other games needs to be thrown out of the window immediately. See, Legendary Eleven is all about having old school fun, hacking down attackers at every available opportunity – if only to see if you can get away with it.
You will need to get unused to how it all plays out because this is totally different from what you’re practiced on. Of course, the basics are there on the attacking front; passing, through balls and shooting are standard. But strangely crossing seems to be attached to the shoot aspect as well, which makes it hard to judge. In the end, you just won’t bother, leaving yourself open by sprinting around the place, running at defenders and hoping for the best. But that all said, you also have a very special attacking option… a bonus power kick ability that you get when through on goal; the player flips in the air, actioning a blast that goes straight through the goal. It never gets old.
Legendary Eleven will see you collecting football cards as you progress through the game and these can be used at the start of a match to give you a special in-game boost. For example, you might have a midfield dribbling boost which will help you get around opposing players or the chance to find a lenient ref officiating for a game, allowing you to go in hard on the attackers. Thanks to this, Legendary Eleven comes across as the NBA Playgrounds of the football world – in both its execution and gameplay.
The problem is, after just a handful of attempts you’ll find that things become all too easy, and it doesn’t take long for matches to finish as very high scoring affairs. A tactical passing game – or any can kind of tactics, really – aren’t needed here, just run at the defense, hit a pass to a teammate and fire off a shot at goal. Rinse, repeat and go again. It doesn’t help that the AI – both of the players on your team and the opposition – are not particularly great either, with some getting lost and refusing to take up the prime positions needed. But then, Legendary Eleven is not meant as a game for the skilled professional football gamers, it’s a game to play after a few drinks when you want to relive the fun of old-school soccer. In this aspect, it can be a lot of fun; provided you are after a bit of light entertainment, some laughs to be had and a strong desire to win everything.
In terms of game modes though and Legendary Eleven is disappointing. There are tournaments to play – from the Africa Cup to the World Cup – but there are no Leagues in place for us to get our teeth into. There is however a rather intriguing challenge mode where you reconstruct games from the past in order to hit certain objectives; changing the course of a match with just 20 minutes left to play or playing as Brazil in an attempt to knock England out of the 1970 World Cup. There is also the option to go in with a multiplayer focused mind, with local play and an online option. You will however need a friend and even though it works just fine, with no lag and coming across as well as the solo aspect, it’s a shame there aren’t more online modes, like a tournament or league or just the ability to play some randoms from around the world.
Looks wise though and everything is decent enough, with Legendary Eleven really embracing the retro design. The character models are very generic and you will struggle to identify between the different players, but the menus are fun and the stadiums are of a reasonable standard. The soundtrack is bubbly too and even though the effects are basic – from the ref’s whistle to the godlike statements of GOAL and FOUL – Legendary Eleven is far from realistic, but that’s the whole point.
Legendary Eleven is a game that I’ve had fun with, allowing the chance to remind myself of a time before the big giants of the football franchise world took over my life. It’s not realistic, it’s not a world beater in terms of gameplay or likenesses of your favourite players, and it’s not going to challenge FIFA on any level, but as a bit of short-term fun, Legendary Eleven has put a smile on my face.