The original Mutant League Football came out for the Genesis in 1993 by Electronic Arts. It catered to an audience who wanted an alternative to the traditional sim-based takes on the sport – one with the ability to kill players and fields littered with hazards such as landmines. Now series creator, Michael Mendheim, has successfully Kickstarted a spiritual successor to the original title (called Mutant Football League) with Digital Dreams Entertainment for release on PC in October, with PS4 and Xbox One versions to follow in spring 2018. We recently got hands-on time with a pre-alpha build of the title, and the game's promise already shines through.

Mutant Football League plays like an old-school Blitz title, but throws in enough extra elements to think about from play-to-play and even moment-to-moment. From a giant chainsaw roving across the fifty-yard line to electrically charged defensive players who cause fumbles on contact, Mutant Football League is a different kind of pigskin, but more importantly, it's one that layers its additions on top of a traditional gameplay foundation. Calling audibles, making reads as a QB, and calling the right plays sit comfortably alongside giant orcs that can kill your players and avoiding mines on the field and blood moats along the sideline.

Player health regeneration is optional, but playing with permadeath for your roster of 50 players makes things more interesting, particularly when you can get in some post-play cheap shots. Juggling which of your players are healthy and filling in spots for deceased players is morbid fun. On one play – after being hit by a Bombs Away Dirty Trick (which turns the ball into an explosive) – both my starting corners died, leaving me with a depleted secondary to say the least. Dirty Tricks vary from team to team and refresh at the half. Run down the field slashing at opponents with a chainsaw on your arm (Chainsaw Massacre), bribe (or alternately kill) the ref, or make your defensive player a fumble-causing giant (Ginormous), and more. It'll be interesting to see how all these offensive and defensive Dirty Tricks balance out, and which ones may be too strong or ineffective.

Also worth considering are players' species, which is another kind of chess match. Mutant demons may have wings and a good vertical jump, but this is balanced out by their poor health regen. Aliens have rolling turbo speed, but lack hit power. On the other end of the spectrum, Orcs have high hit power, but lack intelligence. How you compose your lineup in light of who is healthy and who isn't can mean mismatches on any given play.

Multiplayer is a natural focus for the title, and it features 4-player local and online play, as well as supporting co-op and competitive configurations. Whatever trash talking you do is also augmented by the commentary and spiels from the players (who sport names ghoulishly adapted from real-life counterparts), which fit the game's gory and over-the-top nature.

The game is in the pre-alpha state, but its allure is quickly evident as soon as you pick up the controller and survive your first play. Layer on the game's strategy and multiplayer, and Mutant Football League already has a strong base carrying it forward.

Want to try out a sneak-peak of Mutant Football League on Steam, yourself? Put in a comment in the comments section below and I'll send some random fans a key!

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THE TICKER
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

GT Sport Starts Up a Closed Beta
There was supposed to be a beta at the beginning of 2016, but it was officially canceled that spring. Now developer Polyphony Digital has again committed to a beta, which starts on March 17. You can sign up here

Get a Tour of MLB The Show 17's Franchise Mode 

Rocket League Gets New Mode 

See MotoGP 17 In Its Infancy