I imagine it’s probably quite difficult to push out a football game in a genre that has firmly established itself with two enormous franchises. The goal one would imagine is to create something that is unlike any other football game out there whilst staying true to the roots of the sport. FIFA and PES have cornered the simulator market to such an extent that it’s rare you see a new adaptation of the beautiful game even released these days. The way to go seems to be arcade-y football games. Without licenses and hugely impressive game engines, the onus is to create something that stands out and creates just enough to ensure it differentiates itself from the competition. Legendary Eleven is one such game.
Right off the bat it’s pretty clear that Legendary Eleven isn’t going to blow your mind in the visuals and stats department, but one could argue that’s not what it’s here to do. With its overly stretched player models – Crouchy would be proud – and the bright and crisp classic kits, it feels traditional and classic, harking back to the 90’s football games most of us grew up with. The visual style is admirable and enjoyable, ensuring you know right off the top this isn’t going to be a deep dive into the psychosis of football. And you know what? That’s fine by me.
It’s not just the visuals that enforce this though as your mode options are limited to practice, tournaments, challenges and online. This is what you have to work with and there’s effectively nothing especially wrong with that. It’s a football game in the same way easyJet is a flight, and easyHotel is a room for the night. It’s bare bones and you get what you’re given. There isn’t a league option, which is disappointing and brings into question the longevity of Legendary Eleven. Fortunately, the gameplay finely balances the somewhat lack of modes available.
The gameplay was about what I expected. It’s quite slow and straightforward without the lick of paint the mechanics of other football games are blessed with. Again though, that isn’t the point of Legendary Eleven. It’s created with a Sensible Soccer, Dino Dini kind of aesthetic. It’s old-school football gaming in a 3D space that’s focused on very little more than tackling and shooting. You won’t need to worry about your tactics and your formation because it’s all utterly irrelevant. But should we expect those kind of options in a football game? Not in arcadey sports games. I’ve never once considered the formation and tactics in Mario Strikers, lads. Legendary Eleven is the middle ground between that and FIFA. Well, more Actua Soccer than FIFA.
What is interesting is how I just simply expected that controls that I’ve trained my brain to remember precisely from FIFA would just magically appear in Legendary Eleven and shocking absolutely nobody, they didn’t. Your passing and shooting buttons are the same, as is the boost but crossing and shooting are miraculously on the same button, so that’s one thing to get your head around when the game begins. It’s probably worth jumping into the practice mode before you tackle a tournament. It’s all pretty simple once you’ve nailed the controls but you’ll need to retrain your brain to play this football game if you’re so very used to playing the more hardcore simulators. Of course this is Legendary Eleven, so just run at the box and shoot and see what happens. If you have enough pace about you it’s rare you get caught, so as long as you can find a player nearby that’s close enough to you then you’re not going to have much trouble finding you way through your opponent.
There is a rather special attacking option though that pops up should you have enough stamina, a bonus power shot where your striker will throw the ball up in the air, do an overhead kick and smash the ball through the net. It’s nice to pull off and ensures a goal, which is nice. Plus it looks great and feels satisfying. I’m all about it and if I finish a match without using it, it’s rather disappointing on my part.
Before each game you can select from a variety of football cards that can give you a special in-game boost, say dribbling, striking or passing accuracy. These can be collected as you progress through the game and certainly add an extra layer to the rather simplified gameplay. It’s hard to really notice them at play in the middle of a match, but there’s something oddly comforting about knowing they are there at all. The most useful one I’ve discovered so far is a referee that won’t pull its yellow card out at every opportunity, and instead will let the game proceed with little interruption.
The challenge mode is also pretty cool, dropping you into classic games from history and turning them around in the favour of the team you’re playing, knocking England out of the 1970 World Cup with just twenty minutes left on the clock. It’s pretty neat and adds a little extra spice to proceedings.
And that’s about where the various game options begin and end in Legendary Eleven. It’s not meant to be for hardcore football gamers. There isn’t going to be a Legendary Eleven esports tournament anytime soon but the game is fully aware of this. It’s not really trying to be anything other than what it is and that’s hugely important when considering picking this one up. It’s local multiplayer is fun and frantic, so long as you don’t play with a person who was comparing it to FIFA every five seconds like I did.
It’s a fundamental aspect of Legendary Eleven, and should see it create a life for itself away from living in the shadow of its siblings. It’s a whole different niche of football game and serves an audience who couldn’t care less about Ultimate Team and instead just require a fun kickabout after work.
Legendary Eleven is available now on PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro), Xbox One, Switch and PC
Developer: Eclipse Games
Publisher: Eclipse Games
In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher. For our full review policy please go here.
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