11×11 makes soccer management accessible

As we exclusively revealed in August, Nekki, the developer behind the fighting game Shadow Fight, is bringing its online soccer management game 11×11 to Facebook. And though the game is still a few weeks out from an official launch, we had the chance to play with the closed beta to see how the game compares to the multitude of other soccer games currently available on the social network.

Similar to games like Top Eleven or FIFA Superstars, 11×11 is about managing a soccer club, as opposed to actually playing the game. In fact, the game is quite similar to Top Eleven, though with a number of changes that make it a more approachable, but less deep, experience overall.

 Online Football Manager

 Online Football Manager

11×11 doesn’t feature any team or league licenses, so you won’t be able to play as your favorite real-world club. Instead, the game is all about starting a team from scratch and building them up into something special. You get to choose your name and jersey, and there’s a rather robust logo creator. All of the standard soccer management features are included. You can play friendly matches against random players, challenge your friends, and enter into tournaments (more prestigious ones unlock as you progress). Your players’ skills will increase as you play and put them through training, and you can of course purchase additional players with the money you earn from winning games.

What makes 11×11 different from, say, Top Eleven, is that it’s a much more visual experience. Instead of simply being menus and text, 11×11 includes a more graphical interface. Your main screen, for instance, is your stadium surrounded by a number of buildings, each of which performs a different function. There’s your office (where you can follow your progress and customize your club’s uniform and logo), a hospital for injured players, a training camp, and even a team store where you can earn some extra cash selling merchandise.

It all looks great, with subtle animation such as falling snow, but more importantly makes the interface very intuitive. it doesn’t take very long to figure out where everything is and what everything does. Overall it’s a simplified and easy-to-understand experience, even for those of us who may not know the different between a pitch and a clean sheet. There are even daily goals and tasks to keep you on the right track and you get to acutally watch how games play out, as tiny little shirts face-off against one another in simulated games.

 Online Football Manager

 Online Football Manager

With this accessibility comes a less complex experience, however, as several features have been scaled back a bit. You can upgrade your stadium, for instance, but only by increasing its capacity. You can’t get into the nitty gritty like adding a bigger parking lot or installing a better scoreboard. And when it comes to the players who will populate your virtual team, they are ranked solely on an overall skill rating. Individual skills like passing or shooting ability are nowhere to be found.

Of course, there are plenty of players who could care less about these aspects. Not everyone is worried about the quality of grass their club is playing on or how good a forward is at heading. And for this more casual audience 11×11 is shaping up to be an excellent alternative. You get the fun and flexibility of creating your own club from scratch without the frustration of having to deal with the minutia of operating a pro soccer team.

11×11 is expected to launch on Facebook sometime in the next few weeks.