Mutant Football League Review
Who’s ready to spill some blood and guts on the gridiron? Because one of the defining classic sports titles from the Sega Genesis has returned!
That is correct, Mutant Football League has returned as a spiritual successor to the original series. By Digital Dreams Entertainment, Mutant Football League brings the seven-on-seven arcade action back to the home gamers. Littered with blood, guts, vulgarity, and plenty of dirty tricks, MFL certainly looks the part, but does it reach the same heights as what its original could do?
If there’s one thing that this game absolutely nails it on the zombie head its presentation. Whether it’s the commentators keeping things light and hilarious while doing play by play, special characters adding extra visual flair, or the big bloody chunks that happen from big hits, this game nails it. Mutant Football League is really able to capture the gross and gory fun of the original incarnation while giving it a modern update. It’s definitely football, but it ain’t your daddy’s football! All of the character models are really interesting to look at and you can tell where their influences come from. The aliens look like padded up versions of Xenomorphs, Orcs look like they came straight out of WoW, and the humans looks like Mad Max residents.
Fields of Gory
Something else that cannot be gushed about enough are the fields. (And the blood coming from the bodies.) Every team has their own special field has its own special hazards to avoid. If you play against Tokyo you better be on the lookout for mines everywhere. Playing against the Cardinal Sin means you have to watch out for giant worms that could eat half your team in a single play. And the buzz saw in Nuked London makes you say your prayers at every kickoff. There’s a real level of identity in every team.
The Sound of Violence
In terms of sound design it does its job really well. From the opening theme in the menus you get a sense that the game really takes the football part seriously. If I was listening to the game’s main theme during an NFL game I would think it was completely normal. Adding team specific songs for scores and introductions was a really nice touch as well. Mutant Football League definitely knows what it’s doing when it comes to showing you the game.
The teams themselves are comprised of half thematic, and half art meets real life. Certain teams like the Nuked London Hatriots are clearly plays on certain teams in the NFL. Other teams like the Galaxy Chaos or Tokyo Terminators have a little bit more fun with playing on the idea of certain character types. So you get to try some of your favorite NFL teams, while also having the chance to just get fully engrossed in the mutant part of Mutant Football League.
The game itself is a lot of fun. When you play at the right way. On offense the passing works fine, and the running game is passable across the board. However even on harder difficulties I found myself going to the exact same plays every time. It seemed like there were just certain plays that were meant to succeed on each team and it was your job to find it. I didn’t get as much of a chance to try it out against other people because it was extremely hard to ever find someone in multiplayer. However when I played with my friends on the couch we had an absolute blast. And a lot of that came from one special portion: The dirty plays.
Orcs Must Die
There’s something about whipping out a chainsaw with your running back and slicing the entire defensive line into Swiss cheese. Or would it be provolone? Either way it’s extremely satisfying to get off a good dirty play that leaves half the enemy team dead, and you with an extra six points on the board. Each team has their own assortment of illicit plays as well. And once the enemy has bribed the ref and you catch on, there’s something really therapeutic about finally getting to kill a referee. Whether that’s says more about the game, or the state of officiating in professional sports is its own conversation.
Doesn’t quite have the guts
However, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed at times. Aside from playing with friends you don’t get as much out of the game as you’d expect from it’s $25 price tag. It’s not that it’s a bad game or even broken in any way shape or form. I haven’t run into any bugs at all. But the thing is, after going undefeated in season mode and winning a championship I had no desire to pick the game up afterwards.
It felt like I was just going to wind up grinding to get those last couple teams that more or less played the same. Having those star players definitely adds a level of depth to everything, but unless you turn off dying they’re going to wind up dead before half-time anyways. And even when I wound up playing with my 3rd and 4th string guys it felt like I was playing the same game. Just a little bit slower. I feel like if Mutant Football League wants to really tap into its potential it needs to expand its content.
Adding something like a franchise mode where we get there really design our teams would be awesome. I would love to build up a new stadium in Tokyo. Draft new up-and-coming bruiser Bots to add to our depleted defensive line. Because at the end of the day if you can improve your team, what’s the point? When you go to play other people you might as well just pick the teams that actually have offensive/defensive lineman that can do their job.
There’s not a lot that’s to be sad about Mutant Football League in the negative. It recreates the magic of the original. It’s not buggie. It doesn’t try to shove. You are microtransactions down our throat out. It just feels like there isn’t enough there. The teams don’t play feel that different outside of the character models. The season mode is shallow and doesn’t feel very fulfilling. The multiplayer is fine when you’ve actually got somebody to play with, but that’s easier said than done in my experience.
It’s a good game no doubt about it. It’s just, for as much as this game costs compared to other independently produced titles I can’t say I got as much out of it as I would have from other games. If they could deepen the team management system, improve multiplayer, and try to make the teams feel really different they could have something extremely special on their hands. Until then this game is only good but not great.