This past weekend I was able to get my grubby mitts on the PS4 version of Mutant Football League. The game has been available on Steam for PC since October of last year, but this weekend it made the leap to PS4 and Xbox One. How does the spiritual successor to Mutant League Football hold up, check out my review below for my thoughts.
A History Lesson
In 1993, lead designer Michael Mendheim released Mutant League Football for the Sega Genesis. The game’s publisher was EA so the engine used to build game at the time was Madden ’93. While the engines used to build them were the same, the two football games couldn’t have been more different. You had mutated humans playing football against Aliens, the Undead, Orcs, and various other creatures. The fields they played their games were no regular football fields either as landmines, fire pits, and other hazards littered the field. Meanwhile, the turf could be rock, ice, rubber, or toxic waste.
In MLF cheating is encouraged and, in some cases, the only way you will beat a team better than you. Bribing the referees and outright killing other players is fairly par for the course. In 1994 Mutant League Hockey was released & Mutant League even went on to become a Saturday morning cartoon from July 1994 – Feb 1996. Years later EA ported the game to PlayStation Portable with EA Replay in 2006, which remains the only reason why I still have my first generation PSP.
12 Years Later...
We now have an all-new Mutant League Foot… ahem, I mean Mutant Football League. The game was developed by Digital Dreams Entertainment, (once again led by Mendheim) is about 3.1GB in size, compared to Madden 18: G.O.A.T. Super Bowl Edition that comes in at a whopping 38.54GB.
Now that I’ve mentioned Madden, I can do this sloppy segue into the fact that while the original game had the Madden engine to work with, that’s not the case this time around. They had to build a football game from the ground up and they’ve done an excellent job doing so. They got very close to mimicking the Madden style interface so if you’re used to that you can jump right in and get down to it in MFL.
As I’ve said they had to build this game from scratch to be a football game. I know I keep referring to Madden a lot, but who has a bigger football franchise in the gaming world to offer a comparison to? The MFL football fields look good...And I mean good. As in it’s what I’d expect from a field that would remove a layer or two of skin if you got tackled on it. The traps aren’t exactly beautifully detailed, but I don’t need them to be. You can tell what a bear trap is or what a landmine is.
I have to admit when I saw the file size for the game I was a bit worried that graphics might not be the greatest in this game, but I was pleasantly surprised. If anything they are far better than I expected it to be, managing to sell the fantastical elements of the concept while blending in solid backgrounds.
At first, I was frustrated with the controls; it took multiple button presses to get plays to start. I had about had it with the game, which was disheartening since everything up to that point was great. Don’t despair because all the issues I had were due to user error. Namely, I had the tutorial mode on so it gave an explanation for about everything you did before the snap. For all these minor things there was some text at the bottom of the screen and you had to press X to move on to picking your play or snapping the ball. Had I realized this sooner, it would have been much easier to pick up and play!
The Arcade Style gameplay is fast, brutal, and fun. Although I have played other football games, nothing stacks up to MFL in my eyes. As you play you can lose players to injuries, and if done right you can sneak a few hits in after you’ve tackled someone. Be cautious, however, if you kill the player you’ll get hit with a 15-yard penalty.
There’s a Halftime mini-game where you get attacked by zombie referees and your player has to run around the arena picking up weapons to take out the refs. If you manage to survive for one minute you get a bonus dirty trick to use in the 2nd half.
The offensive and defensive dirty tricks, while handy, are not really explained how they are used unless you are currently playing a game. Not a big deal but I’d rather have that info under the main menu. My major issue with the game is that it feels a bit unbalanced when playing against the computer. Even on the “Rookie” difficulty, the AI team was making plays against me that were just amazing. I don’t mean dirty trick plays it was like the difficulty was bumped up a level or two for that one play.
Overall if you’ve played a football video game between 1993 and 2018 you’ll be able to muddle thru this game other than the use of dirty tricks and the ability to kill other players there’s no major surprises in this from any other football game out there.
Other Bells and Whistles
Under the main menu there are multiple gameplay options for you to choose from:
Play Now – Jump in and play an exhibition game.
Season Mode – Start your 15 game season which if you are lucky enough you head into the playoffs and on your way to the Mayhem Bowl.
Playoffs – Skip the season games and go straight to the Mayhem Bowl.
Online Game – Play your friends or find a random online game to play.
Team Scouting – Look at the other teams to see who their star players are what dirty tricks they have in their arsenal and their game ratings.
Practice – You get 4 downs to score from the 50 yd line. Most of these can be changed in the practice settings area.
Options - Just what you think it is, turns on or off gore, vulgar language, & volumes. You will also be able to view the controller button mapping, but not change it.