There was something about the early football games of the 90s that I really loved – you know, the ones where realism went out the window and there was a focus on offering an enjoyable and simple free-flowing experience where there were goals aplenty. Well, Legendary Eleven offers a very similar arcade-like experience and it’s just released on the Xbox One, giving Microsoft gamers the chance to take part in some nostalgic international showdowns.

Legendary Eleven’s controls are similar enough to just about any other football game, so those acclimatised with the genre will be able to get stuck right in. You can pass, do through balls, dribble and shoot, whilst on the defensive you’re able to do simple tackles and reckless sliding ones. Interestingly, there’s no crossing in the game, but you are able to do trick shots with a quick press of the shoulder button. These trick shots take charging up to use, but once activated they’re an effective way to get some easy goals. Set-pieces are present too with an easy approach that involves timing your actions, whilst things like substitutions are present too. Everything you’d expect from a football game is included in Legendary Eleven – it’s just presented in a simplified and enjoyable way.

Whilst the gameplay is straightforward and the mechanics work well enough, Legendary Eleven does have a few problems. The worst offender is the poor AI, with opponents easily exploited and even doing downright stupid things at times. Whilst there certainly is room for competitive matches in the game, when you figure out the mechanics it can become easy to beat the predictable AI as they struggle to keep up with you (regardless of the disparity in quality between the teams). Your teammate AI isn’t great either, so you can expect to find yourself isolated when the rest of your squad fall out of formation. Given the arcade-like approach the game takes it isn’t always a problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating to witness in-game.

Legendary Eleven

Rather than offering an assortment of clubs to play as, Legendary Eleven instead focuses on offering an international experience. It’s all very old-school too, so you can expect to see the classic style of old fashioned kits whilst teams like Italy, Brazil and Germany are the dominating forces. There’s actually a big focus on stats in the game, with each team having varying ratings for their attacking prowess, defensive skills, overall speed and stamina. It’s a neat little system that can encourage you to play as certain teams, though as mentioned the iffy AI can make it that even the weakest of competitors can topple the footballing giants.

The modes on offer are made up of standard matches, cups, and Legendary matches. The cups consist of international tournaments, with the player able to take part in continent based cups like the European Cup and Africa Cup or just take part in a full-fledged World Cup. They’re fun enough, though the lack of depth to the overall game and its presentation can make them feel like a series of friendlies more than anything else. The Legendary matches on the other hand are a lot more interesting, with the player put in specific scenarios based upon real matches that took place in previous World Cups. It was neat to re-live some classic matches, and with special objectives in place it’s a clever way in which Legendary Eleven offers something unique that other football titles don’t have.

Legendary Eleven

Another clever idea that Legendary Eleven utilises is the stickers. Stickers can be unlocked and used to give different perks to your team, with them typically boiling down to stat boosts but occasionally giving you something like a referee who’s more forgiving of dirty tackles. They’re a fun way for Legendary Eleven to add a few quirks to its gameplay and whilst they don’t always change things up too much, they are fun to play around with. It gives you something to work for too – I’m sure gamers who completed their Panini albums of FIFA World Cups in the past will be in their oils trying to collect them all.

Legendary Eleven

Naturally, Legendary Eleven is at its best when played in multiplayer and I had a good time playing it with friends. It eliminates the whole sketchy AI thing (for opponents anyway) whilst the simple nature of the gameplay makes it easy to pick up and play – it’s just good fun. There is online multiplayer too, though unfortunately there’s no matchmaking included and it’s limited to invite only. It’s a pain because Legendary Eleven seems perfect for quick matches here and there with strangers around the world, but unless you know someone else who owns the game you’re stuck with just local play.

Developer: Eclipse Games
Publisher: Eclipse Games
Platform(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PC