Games review : Mutant League Football
In 1993, Electronic Arts released Mutant League Football (MLF), which became a cult hit.
It was packed with aliens, monsters and robots who are more likely to pummel your team into forfeit than win the game by scoring more points.
Mutant League Football was a fresh look on the sports genre and, over the years, titles like NFL Blitz, Red Card Soccer and even EA's own 'Street' series have taken a more arcade approach.
Now, the Xbox Game preview programme is the console starting point for Mutant Football League, the long-awaited sequel. The original creator and lead-designer have returned, promising all the action from the original game, but modernised and exaggerated.
Stepping into my first match, I went for the safe option and picked a strong team. Using all of my knowledge from recent Madden games I had a solid game plan, utilising a well-balanced team to dispatch passes and runs to split the defence in two.
All went well for the first few downs, but then the realisation of MFL’s brutality hit me like a buzz-saw to the groin. Following a great 30-yard cross-field pass, I escaped the clutches of the defender and started on the long journey to the end zone. In the euphoric sprint I misjudged the giant buzz-saw and my player was literally chopped to shreds.
Soon afterwards, I was attacking once again. Sticking with the running game for a few downs, I was taking much punishment. So there was little surprise when I was informed that my running backs had all been killed and I'd be unable to use running plays. This wasn't a game my opponents wanted to win, they wanted me to lose by dispatching all of my players one at a time. As frustrating as it might sound, it was fun.
The more you play, the more you get used to the unique play style. Unlike most sports games, defence is far more important than attack because this gives you the opportunity to break apart your opponent’s team. It's not a bad decision to throw away possession and concentrate limiting their players and not their score.
Dirty plays add another dimension. Adding shotguns, chainsaws and bombs to your arsenal is sure to help take down your opponents. Each team receives a limited selection so you must think tactically but you can always bribe a ref to give you the upper hand.
The idea of killing enough players to make your opposition forfeit seems to be more emphasised than a touchdown or field goal which, at times, leaves MFL feeling more like a fighting game than a the book to enjoy MFL.
There is plenty of challenge in online games either against a friend, random opponent or match-made (with no resurrections). Offline, play now or Play-offs give you a quick fix, or head into Season Mode for the full challenge. This allows you to carry one team through the 15-week season followed by the play-offs.
Graphically, it's a little rough around the edges. Some of the animations seem limited, but considering it's a preview program title, being able to run through the goal posts without any collision detection can be forgiven for now. There's still plenty of detail for many of the players and the numerous deaths your team will suffer.
There are currently no known enhancements for Xbox One X, but I'm hoping for a resolution bump with the full release.
Audio is hit and miss. Between the ongoing chatter from the commentary team, and the various bumps and oomphs you'll encounter on field, there is arcade-inspired music that kicks in between each play. Unfortunately, crowd noise sounds a little bland, especially when compared to the dynamic nature of crowd noise in many other sports titles. Players and referees have lines of text for you to read whenever they want to say something, but the rather annoying babble just feels a little cheap.
Mutant Football League is fantastic fun, but it's let down by some below-par presentation. Work in the right direction during this preview phase could take MFL all the way to the play-offs, but as it stands it might need a special play.