With the current landscape still void of college football video games, the folks at Canuck Play and Spear Interactive are doing their best to satiate that need. Their general plan of action seems to be to try and deliver a wholly customizable game that allows its fans to create their own world, with the inclusion of multiple league structures provided in the game itself. There have been some much-needed improvements in this year’s game, most notably the partnership with Unity to help enhance the core infrastructure of the game. This partnership includes improvements to the game performance, lighting system, player movement, object avoidance and custom receiver animations. All of this is obviously welcomed, but still, the results need to show on the field for Maximum Football to continue to grow its base, which is integral to the future of the title. So let’s hop into this Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football 2020 review.
What I Like
A true physics-based tackling system is tough to implement and pull off as it offers up numerous potential results with a wide scope of unpredictability. Previous games like Backbreaker and even Madden with ProTak, found this out the hard way. It takes time, experience, and yes, then more time to tweak a physics-based system to where it looks and reacts realistically.
DFMF’s physics-based system isn’t ready for primetime quite yet but is making strides in this area. There were times I was pleasantly surprised by how authentic the action looked and felt, and there were plenty of other times where what I witnessed had me laughing out loud and scratching my head.
The system is another work-in-progress, and while the results aren’t always what the developers intended them to be, the system is improving. Within a year or two, I do think it will deliver exactly what the original intent was, but we just have to hope they make it there. Regardless, it’s a system that relies on true weight and movement to decide on-field reaction and less on in-game animations, and I think that’s the right path to stay on here.
DFMF offers an impressive array of customization abilities within the game. This includes items like creating uniform schemes and helmet logos or renaming and re-categorizing an entire league’s roster base.
It did take me a bit of time to really feel comfortable with the in-game logo creator again, but once I did, creating almost any logo I could think of could be done. The same could be said in regards to the roster editing, as the system is easy to use but took me a couple attempts before I felt proficient at it.
The end results here are that DFMF offers an amazing array of options to help create a football world that you want to live and play in, and it does this with a system that has been created with ease of use in mind.
The option to design your own plays on both sides of the ball should be be an absolute must in any football game to be released, and yet, very few over the years have offered it. Thankfully, DFMF does just that, and it does so with a simple to use interface that allowed me to focus more on my creativity and less on how to utilize the in-game editor.
What is also a nice touch is that the editor plays out in real-time on the screen to allow the creator to adjust and see the play unfold instantly. This is an awesome touch because, as most know, sometimes what we think seems like an awesome play in our head winds up looking like a house on fire in execution on-screen.
If you played the predecessor, you already know that while it was a deep experience, the dynasty mode in DFMF ’19 had some issues with realism and consistency. The developers knew that and went to work during this cycle to eradicate as many of those issues as possible, and in my opinion, did a solid job. No longer do you see 300-pound quarterbacks or easy ways to heavily manipulate the recruiting scene in your favor.
In DFMF 2020, the new dynasty experience offers a base of recruits that are generated via real-life statistical data, deeper storylines, seasonal awards, conference championships, transfers, new bowl games and more.
None of these new additions would mean a whole lot if they were not implemented correctly, and thankfully they mostly seem to blend seamlessly into the current dynasty mode, and help create an even more authentic experience that other games should look at for inspiration.
If DFMF had the resources that other development teams had, the dynasty mode would be an addition that sports gamers would reference often regarding what other titles should be offering. Sadly, the on-field product holds the off-field experience back a bit for now.
What I Don’t Like
At times, the AI in DFMF is solid and looks like a formidable opponent — again, at times. That said, there are real problems with the AI as an opponent, and it comes across most notably in the form of manipulation and avoidance.
What does that mean? Well, for starters, even with sliders tuned favorably towards the AI, I can still easily return punts and kickoffs by simply making quick cuts with my player, and the AI will rarely make an adjustment to what is taking place on the field, resulting in a quick score on special teams.
I can take advantage of the AI in the same exact way on offense when running the ball, as the AI almost never adjusts or takes a proper angle. This means I can zigzag my way to a touchdown quite often, to the point where it makes a strict set of house rules a requirement if you want any type of competitive game to unfold.
The developers are aware of the AI and are working on a fix for those issues, but until the AI is adjusted to a more suitable level of competence, it can be a struggle to find a solid balance of competitiveness in a single-player environment.
If you’re going to claim that you’re the antithesis of Madden or that college football is back, then creating a presentation package and atmosphere to match those claims is important. The problem here is that there simply isn’t any presentation to speak of, good or bad.
As a staunch college football fan, half the fun is the combination of the game’s atmosphere, the student section, the band and the fight songs, and DFMF offers almost none of that or even the ability to add them to the game yourself.
I understand that on the list of importance the presentation package takes a backseat to gameplay and depth, but hopefully this is something that can be implemented in the years to come. Presentation adds to the depth and realism of any title, and Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football 2020 comes across as generic and underwhelming in that regard in its current state.
File And Creation Sharing
To be clear, the developers have addressed this issue a million times and have a true understanding of how important the inclusion of a creation and file-sharing program is to the growth of the game. The issue is, and always has been, a legal one. Canuck and Spear Interactive simply do not have the funds or ability to risk such a venture at this stage. The cost to retain a legal presence large enough to ward off any issues that may arise is massive at this juncture, and while developers like 2K and EA enjoy that leeway, the developers of DFMF are not quite there yet.
So, we have a full understanding of why a system isn’t in place, but that still doesn’t negate the fact that a system is needed for the game to take that next leap. There are many, myself included, that love utilizing the creation tools built into the game to help create an authentic league-style structure, regardless of what league option you have chosen. The issues arise when you take into consideration the amount of effort it takes to create rosters, logos and uniforms. This is time many of us do not have.
A file-sharing system is an absolute must for DFMF to take the next step in its evolution, and this is a message I will continue to fight for until it becomes a reality. Without a true sharing system, the game is just a generic game with multiple league structures.
There is plenty to like regarding the improvements to Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football 2020, but that doesn’t mean the game isn’t without its flaws. It’s not fair to expect the same polish from an indie developer as it is from a large development and publishing house, but it is fair to judge the core mechanics of the game.
To find consistent enjoyment in DFMF, you must have an open mind and an understanding of the development process, and that is not something everyone is willing to have — and rightfully so.
At times, DFMF feels like an underpowered PS2 title, and the on-field action is inconsistent in its delivery of authentic gridiron action — even that’s being generous in some regards. Yet, it is still easy to see the vision that Canuck and Spear have, and it’s exciting to see the improvements with each new iteration. This game is not stuck in the mud or anything — there are very obvious improvements being made year over year — it’s just perhaps a longer journey to competence than some would have expected.
If you have an understanding that this series is a work-in-progress from a small team, adding Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football 2020 to your rotation is a solid idea as the customization and dynasty options are plentiful. If your approach here is looking for that instant Madden replacement, you may want to keep on looking.
Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football 2020 is available digitally on the Xbox One & PS4, and possibly PC at a date TBD.