Mutant Football League: Dynasty Edition – Xbox One Review
American football is said to be a brutal sport, but if you think its nowhere near brutal enough, Mutant Football League ramps up the violence, with more gore, death and destruction in the pursuit of gridiron glory. The name of the game might sound familiar if your gaming pedigree goes back as far as the mid 1990’s you might have played Mutant League Football. Well thanks to a Kickstarter campaign all these years later, Digital Dreams Entertainment have come up with a spiritual successor in Mutant Football League (see what they did with the name there?). The game originally released back in January, but this Dynasty Edition is enhanced with the addition of a franchise mode, which gives us the definitive edition of the game.
If you’ve played NFL Blitz or any Madden game, you’ll be familiar with the game controls as they are very similar, which helps to get you straight into the action. If you’re not sure what to do, or unfamiliar with the basic gridiron rules, theres a very good and well explained tutorial mode that takes you through the different aspects of the game, from kicking, rushing, passing, through to defence and special teams.
The game is stripped down to 7-a-side football, and everything about the action is over the top and outrageously violent. You pick a team from a choice of 25 teams, most of which are parodies of real NFL teams, for example the Killadelphia Evils, the Blitzburg Steelheads or the Scarolina Panzers. Those that know their NFL will also spot that the player names are also parodies of real players, such as Bomb Shady (Tom Brady) and Hambonio Crown (Antonio Brown). You’ll find the rosters pretty much match up with the latest 2018 season roster, once you’ve worked out the parody names of course.
Each team is made up of different races and species, relevant to their positions, giving a good variety of player in each squad. Some of these are Skeletal Deadheads, Monstrous Orcs, BruiserBots, Mutant-Humans, and Criminal Aliens. Rampaging Werewolves and Hell-Spawned Demons have also been added in the Dynasty Edition. The great thing about all the names and characters is that they’ve been suggested by the community. This connection with the fans of the game helps to make it more engaging as it taps directly into the players sense of humour.
There is also a great variety when it comes to the stadiums, which fit in with the theme of the team showing some imaginative backdrops to the action, Different stadiums also have different on the field traps that will harm your players if you step on them, such as giant metal blades, mines, or fiery pits to name but a few. They plays you can use are stripped down and easy to follow thanks to there just being seven in your team. As well as your standard football plays, each team has a set of dirty tricks, which differ from team to team. You can only use each one a couple of times each in the game, so chose them wisely, then laugh as you activate Kill the Ref, have your running back literally carve through the defence with a chainsaw, or have your defence booby trap the ball with explosives.
Graphically the game could be better, as although the backdrops are well detailed and full of character, and the players are diverse with the action runs at a nice 60fps, the characters aren’t particularly well defined, and I really expect more from an Xbox One game. The rough around the edges feel is most prominent when all the players pile in and the lack of definition makes it difficult to see exactly whats happening. The lack of definition is disappointing as the player animations work really well when the view is uncluttered. What is more impressive is the game commentary, The action is called with good timing and hilarious vulgarity, the adult nature of which makes it stand out from a standard TV commentary, thus making it more humorous.
Amongst all the big hits and over the top gore and violence, the more you play you’ll notice a decent depth of strategy within the game. Make plays that take advantage of your teams strengths as well as the weaknesses of your opposition, and activate your Dirty Tricks at the right time to gain the maximum advantage. Players take damage as the game goes on, so targeting the opponents star players can be advantageous as they can become injured, or better still be killed and taken out of the game. If you’re really successful with your targeted violence, the other team might even run out of fit players and you win by forfeit.
You can play single match-ups, have a go at a full season or just the play-offs, or take on the Dynasty Mode, which works as a franchise game over multiple seasons. Choose your favourite team and the aim is to win the Mayhem Bowl within 3 years, to get yourself and extension. You start with your teams players having a low rating of 40 out of 100 and you need to work your way up to glory. As you play, your players gain XP but it’s a slow process getting their stats boosted this way, so you also need to use trades and sign free agents to improve the playing roster. Manage your budget well and make sure theres enough money to spend on resurrecting your dead players. All the players stats are tracked which gives depth to the team selection and getting the right balance importance. There are also off the field factors that effect team selection as players get caught up in scandals and end up suspended.
There is an online mode that can pitch you against your fiends or just random opponents. To aid the matchmaking, the developers have recognised there may not be a massive player base to match up with, so the game notifies you when theres an online opponent looking for a random match-up. You get a little notification in the corner of the screen no matter what mode you’re playing at the time, meaning you just pause what you were doing and play the online opponent. Although it tended to take a long time to find an opponent when actively searching for a match-up, once in the game is played very smoothly with no lag.
Mutant Football League: Dynasty Edition is a well above average arcade sports sim, jam packed with gory but cartoony violence, making it a worthy successor to the original game. The franchise mode adds extra depth and longevity to the game and warrants the purchase price despite the odd deficiency with the graphics. Thanks to the input from the community, the humour mostly hits the mark, and the hardcore football fan will enjoy the depth of the stats and the strategy, whereas the casual player will love the parody and comedy violence.
Developer: Digital Dreams Entertainment
Huge thanks to Wonacott Communication for the review copy.