Spiritual successor to EA’s 1993 title Mutant League Football, see what they’ve done, this is Digital Dreams Entertainments attempt to squib kick this franchise back to life. Heading up the project is Michael Mendheim, designer of the original game, after completing a second Kickstarter campaign. With over twenty-five years of experience in the business, Mendheim has previously helped to realise hip-hop fighting series Def Jam and the green plastic soldiers of the Army Men franchise. Mutant Football Leauge: Dynasty Edition now makes its way to Nintendo Switch adding the specially created ‘New Goreleans Zombies’ team.
This is a sports title with a difference, loosely based on the rules of American Football yet distancing itself from the ultra-realistic sims like Madden by opting to exist in a realm filled with mutants and monsters. This hybrid game of football takes the basic rules and folds in a gloriously violent, hard-hitting and fantastical point of view for maximum carnage. Having never been able to get to grips with Madden, mainly due to the rules involved, I’m hoping that MFL will give me the introduction to the sport I have been waiting for.
The initial loading time to reach the main menu is absolutely monstrous. Once in you are presented with a very generic set of gameplay options – quick play, season mode, online and modes – it does what is needed. MFL additionally has in-game achievements and team scouting, which provides extra detail about each squad and who to watch out for. Modes is further split into subcategories – training, practice, playoffs or standard season. Playoffs is a variant on the standard season just cutting down the total number of matches.
MFL is played with 7 vs 7 and boasts 25 different teams to choose from, most are based on real-life team names but have been given a twist. Characters range from mutated humanoids, skeletons, aliens, orcs and demons introducing some of the craziest, bloodthirsty superstars the stage has seen. As with pretty much any sport I can think of the aim of the game is to better the score of your opponent. What sets this apart is the use of a dirty tricks mechanic which allows you to bribe the referees, pull off special moves to give your team the edge. The use of guns, bombs and chainsaws is sanctioned, cheating welcomed but was a harsh lesson as in my first game half the team ended up annihilated. Not only this but the pitch is swamped with hazards to contend with, booby traps, land mines, toxic pools and buzz saws. If this wasn’t enough to scare you off even the weather is out to get you, lightning strikes, blizzards and the occasional meteor shower show no mercy.
One the of big pulls is the games season mode, Dynasty, where you become manager of a squad with the goal of turning rookies into champions over 13 seasons ending with a chance of immortality in The Mayhem Bowl. It adds depth to the game with a transfer system, cumulative XP, salary management, custom plays and free agent signings but is standard fare by today’s standard.
Graphically the game looks really nice in places but the finished product is very inconsistent especially on the Switch version tested. Animation is fluid and everything is over the top, blood splatters on the screen, bones break, bodies are dismembered and explode. Character models are beefy with a hideous charm, stadiums are big and full of life. There were a few framerate drops and glitches but nothing that was a game breaker. It seems to be a mainstay of field-based sports games that when watching a replay of close up action everything looks ten times better than in open play. The lower resolution textures and colour palette used tend to leave this looking no better than a run of the mill mobile release. The games audio is great, minus the music, with sound effects that are bone-crunching and featuring a full commentary track that tries its best to provide some dark humour to justify insane takedowns of the players from the opposing team. It is the typical American host vs co-host double act and voiced by the legend Tim Kitzrow, who provided the voice-overs for NBA Jam and NFL Blitz. Controls are tight and with tutorials aplenty it is easy to pick up, the Switch is the perfect platform if you want to have a quick game while on the move.
I really wanted to like Mutant Football League but I’m finally going to have to concede I just don’t get American Football in any form. At times fun but the experience would be better suited for a fan as the game isn’t anything special. If you enjoyed the originals then this will appeal. The tongue in cheek humour isn’t all that funny and the occasional performance issue slightly took the shine off the experience although not a deal breaker.
Beard Score: 5/10
Players: 1 – 4
Publisher: Digital Dreams Entertainment
Release: 30/10/2018 (Switch)
Format: Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch