Ever since EA acquired the exclusive NFL rights, it has been a struggle to get a football simulation that stays true to the game of football — but it’s not for a lack of trying. After all, as I wrote about a few weeks ago, football video games continue to pop up frequently. And whether you prefer text-based simulations like Draft Day Sports: Football 2020 or a Madden-like game such as Axis Football 2019, there’s several options on the market to satiate your football needs.
For months, there was hope Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football would become the next great sports game. After all, it was produced by NFL legend Doug Flutie, much like the Madden franchise had John Madden at the helm. But could it live up to the hype it slowly developed over years of development? Would it be true competition to Madden, or would it fall short like so many sports games that came before?
Here’s my review of Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football 2019.
What I Like
When it comes to alternatives to Madden, the other options on the market fall short on the whole. However, one area Maximum Football excels at is customization. There are over 130 teams in DFMF and users have the opportunity to customize each and every one of them. So, whether you plan to make teams look like their real-life counterparts or want to create a league all of your own, the choice is yours.
Each unique team also has 68 players, all of which can be renamed to better replicate the league you choose. If you want to recreate the Canadian Football League? Go right ahead. Want to not only edit a team to look like a NFL franchise, but rename each player to look and feel like they do on Sundays? You can do that too.
Unfortunately, users can NOT edit player faces, hairstyles and other personal features. Regardless, one thing that DFMF does extremely well is customization.
More times than not when playing smaller indie titles, the array of options at your fingertips can often feel limited. And when it comes to a sports games, playbooks and other features are critical so that the games do not become stale rather quickly. However, this is not the case with DFMF. In fact, the playbook can be a bit overwhelming at first, especially for those not familiar with other football video games.
Although, I’m uncertain the exact number of plays in DFMF, there is a vast variety to choose from. No, there are not team-specific playbooks or the ability to create your own plays. Instead, DFMF has only one playbook to choose from. But again, this playbook has everything and anything you can imagine.
There’s not a whole lot to be done in DFMF. Aside from a single-player mode, the big draw is a dynasty mode. However, there’s still a lot left to be desired. Yes, you can customize your team and players, as mentioned earlier. But there’s still not a whole lot of variance from one team to another. Coaches won’t feel the heat if they’re unable to produce a winning franchise, as there’s no chance of being fired. That being said, users will have ample time each week to recruit players and this can give users a nostalgia that they may not have felt since NCAA Football 2014.
Recruits will have hidden attributes and can vary in their potential. There’s a four-team playoff and bowl games for teams to compete in as well. That being said, dynasty mode seems a lot like a basic single-player mode and leaves a lot to be desired.
Things I Don’t Like
Truth is, no one expects the smaller indie developers to come out of the gates with breathtaking graphics and stunning visuals. But for a game that had so much potential, there’s there’s just not a ton here, especially from a visual standpoint. Most of the player models look the same and there’s not many differences between an offensive lineman and a shifty running back.
There’s no broadcast presentation that wows the user aside from a drive summary that is reminiscent of what you would see on NFL.com. I know it’s unrealistic to expect a lot from an indie title, but Axis Football is a prime example of an indie-developed football game doing just the right amount to keep the game interesting to the user.
The core of every great video game is the gameplay. Unfortunately, this might be my biggest gripe of them all with Doug Flutie’s Football. Not only are the animations outdated and quickly become stale, but players don’t move as they should on the virtual gridiron. Maybe a lot of this has to do with the smaller studios, but no part of DFMF feels like a real representation of the game we enjoy watching so much.
Tackling animations become repetitive quickly and often just look like two individuals running into one another. Passing seems hit or miss. The ball doesn’t realistically come out of the quarterback’s hands and the trajectory of the passes feel off. Truth is, the ball floats through the air at a snail’s pace and many times seems like it may never reach its intended target.
Running animations look more like jogging animations, and special moves like jukes and spin moves have very little place in this football game. Trench play is non-existent, and way too many times the offensive lineman will miss a block or let a player run in completely untouched. Wide receivers rarely run the routes they’re supposed to and can often feel like they’re lost at sea.
The computer AI is definitely something that needs to be fixed. Way too many times the QB drop backs into a running back that is just standing lifelessly in the backfield. The game also doesn’t really come off as overly difficult, and again, is something that absolutely needs to be fixed before DFMF can be taken seriously.
I understand that Canuck Play is a small, independent company. But everything about the game from the first menu to the final whistle takes me back to my time waiting aimlessly for the final season of Game of Thrones. All kidding aside, no one likes to have to wait a few minutes for a game to load. However, that’s not even the worst part. Having to wait throughout the game can be even more frustrating, and at times had me contemplating turning the game off. If DFMF wants to be taken seriously and be legit competition for Madden and Axis 2019, this is something that needs to be fixed — if not this season then in a future installment.
In the end, Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football 2019 is loaded with potential. For gamers desperate to find an alternative to Madden, this game might be enough to sway some of you towards the new, innovative product. But in the end, the clunky animations, poor route-running, repetitive tackling, poor AI and overall lackluster gameplay do not quite live up to the hype this game built up over the years of development.
No one can argue what type of player Doug Flutie was on the field. But his first attempt at a hall of fame football simulation came up a bit short. That’s not to say the game couldn’t compete with Madden and Axis down the line, but for now there are way too many issues to recommend this title to most audiences.