With the 2018 Russia World Cup finally at the door, it’s time to dust off the boots, don your jersey and go outside. Not really, it’s time to play some arcade football!

From the small Spanish indie company, Eclipse Games, comes Legendary Eleven. A game that allows players to relive the classic ’80s and ’90s era World Cup football with all its great hair, short shorts and beautiful moustaches. You get to take control of eleven tough guys and fight your way to the top, winning game after game and getting the coveted cup! Who you chose to take to the top is up to you.

Football games have asserted themselves into the gaming market for as long as I can remember, whether that be Sensible Soccer, Actua Striker or even International Super Soccer, all the way up to today’s latest FIFA and PES. Every year there’s been a new instalment on the shelves, each slightly bettering themselves in some “dynamic” and “exciting” way, when really they are very similar to their predecessor.

This is where Legendary Eleven comes in, it’s a game that clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its players are lanky, spindly caricatures, the physics aren’t exactly what you call “realistic” and it’s unapologetically not FIFA. It even states this itself by saying “We are NOT FIFA. We know. We just don’t care”. Which frankly, I love. It isn’t trying to be a football simulator or the new cutting edge game, it’s a bit of fun to have with some friends as you battle to take the cup. With it still technically being in its early stages though and, as it’s not FIFA, it clearly doesn’t have the same size of production team or even budget, leaving it a little tough around the edges.

Legendary Eleven gives you the chance to play as 1 of 32 worldwide teams, all with different stats. These stats are based on a fair few years ago so expect a couple of surprises! Like its bigger budget rivals, Legendary Eleven allows for single, as well as multiplayer mode, both on and offline and varying weather conditions including cloudy, snowy, foggy and sunny. As there aren’t any league teams in the game, just worldwide teams, you can only play the big cups such as the Africa Cup, Asia Cup, Europe Cup, America Cup and then the obvious World Cup. This lack of league games isn’t a massive downside as, with it being an indie game, I wasn’t exactly expecting all the licensing that FIFA or PES offers by having every league in England, America and Spain. I was happy with what I got.

The way this game does shy away from the usual stereotypes, though, gives it that bit of extra fun. Legendary Eleven has a selection of 32 unlockable cards that can improve the team’s stats during their game. These can vary from relaxing at half time, which will recover more of your stamina, to a permissive referee that overlooks some fouls during the game. This adds to the arcadey style I was expecting and, granted, it does make everything that little more exciting as different players will go for different play styles, giving each person their own little advantage.

As well as the cards, the referee’s strictness can also vary. They can be permissive, moderate and strict. This obviously effects the outcomes of the game and drastically changes how you play; if you know the referee is going to be permissive, you’re going to slide tackle everyone and not give it a second thought!

The game also has a morale system, this means the players’ abilities and attitudes in the game will change depending on specific factors. These can be the game score, the crowd cheers, the roughness of the match and even the cards selected. I guess this adds to the realism as players emotions would genuinely be affected by certain aspects of the game, however, it does take these emotions to the extreme which brings back the arcadey style once more.

Graphically and Legendary Eleven is all just a bit of fun. There is definitely a unique art style that you don’t get a lot of these days, the lanky characters with enhanced hair, feet and just limbs in general are great. The varying weather is a very nice touch as the pitch does change drastically and the simplicity shows it isn’t focusing too much on being too complicated, it just wants nice, fun gameplay. One thing I should mention though is that quite a few of the team’s jerseys are very similar colours. VERY similar. This makes knowing who to pass to that much harder.

In terms of gameplay, Legendary Eleven has me very torn. With it being a football game, I can’t help but constantly compare it to FIFA and PES. I know it isn’t trying to be those games, but I can’t help it!

The standards have been set so high that anything less than that is going to have an effect on opinion. In terms of fluidity, it’s OK. That’s about it, it’s OK. The whole game seems a tiny bit jolty, and the players are so lanky that they can’t seem to turn properly. They seem to change angle in an instant and not in a fluid motion, taking away the immersion of the game. In reality, or even in other football games, people gradually turn their bodies and their limbs follow, in Legendary Eleven they just suddenly seem to be facing a completely different way out of nowhere.

The other, and most frustrating aspect, is the shooting. This caught me out time and time again, to a point where I got so frustrated that I had to pause the game and calm myself down. Picture this: You’re running down the pitch, you skill past every opposing player, the passes have been perfect and you’re lined up for that perfect shot that you’re positive will end up top bins. You press the shoot button and you stop absolutely dead! Your players shot build up takes so long that the opposition tackles you and they claim position. Sounds annoying right? Imagine that happening pretty much EVERY TIME. That’s right, every time you take a shot the build-up takes so long that you will almost always lose possession. There is no way around this, this is the game, but it needs to change.

Talking of shots, the better you play, the faster your skill meter racks up which, in turn, means you can unleash a SuperShot. This always encourages tactful and skilful play because you can then smash in an absolute screamer. This sounds great except this shot never misses, it always goes in. This completely takes away the excitement of it as there is never a risk. You just press the right button, your player will kick it in the air, perform a stunning bicycle kick and boom! GOAL. Just knowing this didn’t work occasionally would make things all the more exciting, otherwise it’s just repetitive.

Legendary Eleven is a fun game, it really is, but it is still quite rough around the edges and the shooting mechanic seriously has to change. The gameplay does need to be made more fluid and streamline and the SuperShot shouldn’t always go in. Having spent years playing exclusively FIFA and PES, I did find it hard playing a football game that, so clearly, has such a significantly smaller budget. But Legendary Eleven isn’t trying to be either of those two giants. It’s a bit of fun to be had with friends.

For now, I’d say wait and see if any of these changes get implemented, but it definitely has potential.

Rating: 3.5/5

Massive thanks to: Eclipse Games

Release date: June 2018

Price: £8.99

Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)

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