The Retronauts Review: Mutant Football League

FINALLY, football has COME BACK! the PC.

Here's something that might surprise you, if you weren't aware of it -- American Football, arguably the US's most popular sport, is nothing but wasteland on the PC. Seriously -- there is nothing there at all. Even the only major game in town isn't there -- the last John Madden game that EA released for the PC was Madden 08, in August 2007...yep, over a decade now. If you're a PC gamer and you like American Football...well, there's nothing to see. Sure, you may find the odd low-budget project made with love here and there, but still you may want more, and all of this time there's been basically nothing...until now.

After a long journey that started with an ambitious failed kickstarter in 2013, a more modest one in 2017 and a journey through Early Access that appropriately ended yesterday on Halloween, Mutant Football League is here. In one hand it carries a Wilson football, and in the other it carries a pump-action shotgun. It rides on the back of a gigantic mutant abomination stomping all over a post-apocalyptic field, stepping on a landmine that blows it to smithereens and takes the running backs along with it. It seems appropriate for the wasteland that is football on the PC to finally be taken over by the mutants -- it couldn't be anyone else. And thankfully, the resulting game is, bluntly put, brilliant.

This is, of course, a spiritual follow-up to an old classic -- EA's own Mutant League Football, a game that many loved on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis back in the early '90s. That game may be 25 years old, but this revival does little to change a formula that quite simply spite of the humour, the deaths and the violence, the original game always played a perfectly good game of football -- you've got all the plays, the passing and running, the blitzes and covers and shotguns that aren't meant to blow someone's face off...they were still football, just with awesome extras. Mutant Football League is the same way -- sure, bribing the ref is in and there's all sorts of mines and buzzsaws to avoid, but the football itself is still very strong, and the CPU itself is smart and more than up to beating you.

But of course, those extras are fantastic. There are, of course, two ways to win in Mutant Football League -- the first is the good old-fashioned way, by accumulating more points than the other team at the end of the fourth quarter. The other way is to see to it that there's no-one on the other team left to pass the football to. Whether it be through using the shotgun, or the chainsaw, or punting the ball right into the middle of some landmines or just through utterly necessary roughness, this game is an orgy of death where, at times, every play seems to add more corpses to the pile. When John Heisman said that it would be better to die a small boy than to fumble this football, I doubt he thought that Digital Dreams Entertainment would take him quite so literally.

And then there's the fun and love of the package to boot -- the graphics and arenas? They're great. The commentary has a familiar ring to it; it's Tim Kitzrow, the same man who used to provide the brilliant play-by-play for the NFL Blitz games. The little asides that the players often provide after a successful play are also often hilarious...and the action itself is end-to-end, some of the most dramatic fun you'll have in a Football game. When you screw up a field goal only for your QB to recover the ball from a mess of ruined bodies and run it all the way to the endzone for a game-winning touchdown on the last play of the game? That's when you know you've got something special...and this is just against the computer.

In short, football is back on the PC -- and Mutant Football League is the perfect game for it. It's easy to say that if you're a fan of football and you're also primarily a PC gamer that you should buy the game now, but then chances are you've already descended upon it and tore it asunder like a starved Augustus Gloop would a chocolate cake -- times have been hard, I know. But even if you're not a fan of football, or if you like kooky sports, or sports in general...hell, if you like games? You should get this. This faithful update brings back all we knew and loved from the past, only with even more to offer, and it's come out of nowhere to provide some of the most fun I've had with any game this year. Whether it's on the PC, or PS4 or Xbox One? You need this in your life.