one for eleven

It’s generally fitting when reviewing a sports title to open with an applicable analogy and in One for Eleven’s case, that’s a simple enough task. One for Eleven is David Moyes. One for Eleven is Yeovil town. One for Eleven is watching your team score an own goal in the final minute. One for Eleven is David Beckham against Argentina, One for Eleven is Derby County in 2007. One for Eleven, to put this even more directly than West Ham play at Chelsea, is bad, a cornucopia of bugs, glitches and stress headaches presented in convoluted, hard-to-navigate menus, the archaic nature of which reminded me of Premier League 98 on the PSX. This week has been less about me writing a review and more the story of how I came just one more faulty loading screen away from throwing my tablet off of my balcony.

From the first minute, the outlook for One for Eleven wasn’t particularly positive. The loading time is so extensive that I was genuinely able to make dinner whilst I waited, only for the game to crash at 45%, twice. Two hours later and on the third attempt, I had fought my way into the game’s first screen but it decided that I wasn’t connected to the internet, despite the fact that I was, and wouldn’t let me progress any further into the title. Some swearing happened.

The next day I tried again and found a measure of success, legitimately muttering ‘huzzah’ under my  breath, feeling pleased as I did that I’d finally been granted access — until I was told that unless I signed in with either my Facebook or Google + accounts, I’d be limited to a guest account  unable to access various features. That was the catalyst for yet another issue: until I know that you’re not too embarrassing for my decidedly hipster social media accounts, I’m not trusting you to post things on my wall, One for Eleven. Maybe later.

One for eleven shit

As a guest in this world of footballing promise, I plunge onwards to find uh, more irritating loading screens and a buggy tutorial, which I didn’t realise I was receiving until it asked me if I’d enjoyed the tutorial which I didn’t realise I was getting. The shambles then proceeds, mid-game, to pop up an apology headed ‘Saturday, April 20th’ to let me know that the game is experiencing technical issues and reassuring me that their servers are being urgently checked. That’s fantastic, except that the date I received that note was April 25th. That’s a five day bout of urgent maintenance which apparently isn’t going so well. And the 20th was a Sunday.

Teething issues momentarily resolved, I doggedly fought my way through loading screens which led to nowhere, unresponsive buttons which did nothing the first nine (I counted) times I pressed them and an irritating looped soundtrack, to eventually get a little bit of game time.

Imagine for me, if you will, a match day in the premier league. You’ve got tickets to go and see the title-decider between Liverpool and Chelsea except, to your dismay, you find that your car won’t start, no matter how hard you try to get it running. Being a resolute supporter of the reds, you elect to hop on the next train instead, only to find your day further blighted by an irreparable break down after twenty minutes, leaving you to rely on a rail replacement bus service. Not giving up hope, you persevere, boarding the rail replacement bus and finding your seat, only to discover much to your dismay that your chair is made of asbestos and fire and ass-hungry butt-demons.

So you get off the bus (with some haste) and instead charter a helicopter to take you to the stadium, blowing your savings in the process but willing to make that sacrifice to see your beloved Liverpool. With a sense of unease, you notice half-way through the flight that your pilot is, I don’t know, the cookie monster, and is as such totally unsuited to a career in aviation. As per your nervous expectations, Cookie Monster struggles to master the controls with his unwieldy puppet fingers and crashes the helicopter a mile from your destination, leaving you to crawl to the match on your hands and knees. When you get there you find out that the game has been postponed until next week. You call your wife to see if she can give you a lift home, only to find out that she’s left you for your brother and killed your dog.

And that’s how One for Eleven made me feel.

The menus are a tangled maze of bewilderment and even the simplest tasks (swapping players in and out of your starting line up for example) are executed in maddeningly clueless fashion, displaying such a lack of intuitiveness throughout that I think I might have forgotten what the word means. It’s a type of cheese, right?

The scouting system which I was looking forward to playing with didn’t work when I tried to access it, twice not letting me into the system at all and once giving me grudging access, only to smugly inform me that there were no players for my scouts to go and look at. I’ve just tried to access it again to see if I could find something positive to say, but am still being told that the game is undergoing maintenance, and that it’s last Sunday and that Sunday is actually Saturday.

One for Eleven pic

Checking the interface which supposedly tells me about matches in progress, I’m inexplicably informed that I’ve just won 1-0 in the third fixture in which my team has participated (without my knowledge) and that I have another game coming up in the near future. The PvP nature of the title means that until that fixture rolls around, I have literally nothing to do, except implement some costly training for my squad of losers and shout expletives at loading screens, unless of course it decides to play another game without my input. The system which has been hastily erected in place for matches is genuinely one of the most ridiculous I’ve ever come across, not to mention being totally unsuited to a management simulator of this nature, leaving me literally begging for a standard season mode.

Deciding to put the game’s transfer system to use, I found myself exposed (briefly) to the developer’s two-tier money system. There’s in-game cash which you use for familiar managerial activities and there’s also gold, which is where the title becomes monetized, and highly so I might add. I didn’t purchase any gold, nor did I use any, bar a little of what I was provided at the beginning of the game, but to exploit the system you’re going to need to spend a fair old wad of cash. I’d like to be more specific with quite how much, but I’ve just tried to log into the game again to find out and have been told that important maintenance is taking place between 14:30 and 16:30, except that the date for that maintenance is…well, you get it by now, right?

Attempting to sign the legendary Totti, I placed a bid in in-game currency and also paid a negotiation fee of eight gold, leaving me with fifty two shiny pieces left over. I was briskly informed that if the negotiations were to fail, I wouldn’t get that gold back and lo and behold, the transfer went arse over trousers, leaving me needing to enter into negotiations again, which would cost, approximately, eight more gold.

I’ve recently developed a fairly hearty dislike for free-to-play games which feature expensive in-title purchases (hey there Plants Vs. Zombies 2) and One for Eleven is a prime example of both why that is and why none of us should be putting up with this nonsense. The consumer will never be functionally capable of getting any serious level of long-term enjoyment, without incrementally handing over more money than it would cost to have simply purchased the game up front and that’s a really shoddy state of affairs for the industry to be in. Luring me in with the notion that something is free to play, only to demand money to let me enjoy playing it is like giving me a tantalising glimpse of a delicious steak, only to take that steak away just before I bite into it and placing a turd on my fork instead.

One for Eleven is an unexpected turd-on-a-fork and the developers can have that quote for free — unless they plan on using it anywhere. That’ll cost eight thousand gold and the soul of your first born child.

This review was written based on the Android version of One for Eleven.