Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Canuck Play
Developer: Canuck Play
It pains me to say this, but Maximum Football 2018 is not good. And by not good, I mean that there’s a legitimate case for it being one of the worst games I’ve ever played.
Before I explain what makes it so terrible, though, I’ll first say why I wish I could be more positive. Maximum Football 2018 is the work of a small studio in southern Ontario, and it represents their attempt at creating an annualized football game that isn’t Madden (coming one year after last year’s Canadian Football 2017). Not only that, it’s built around Canadian Football League rules. As someone who is a) a fan of indie games, and b) Canadian, that sort of dedication to the bringing the CFL to the masses is pretty neat (and I’m not even a CFL fan).
While the passion undeniably comes through loud and clear in every aspect of Maximum Football 2018, that’s also pretty much all the game has going for it. It is, in quite literally every other respect, horrifically bad.
I can’t emphasize this enough: there is absolutely nothing redeeming about this game, beyond its indie provenance. The players all have roughly the same proportions as Gumby, with long bodies and dangly, oddly-shaped arms. As you might expect, none of them move in any kind of identifiably human way, and all of them have a tendency to fall over at the slightest hint of contact — and, occasionally, they get bowled over by empty air, judging by the number of times that I’d see players fall down in the middle of open field runs.
And that’s assuming they move at all. Get near the sidelines, and you’ll notice that everyone — players, camera people, coaches, fans — is frozen in place. This doesn’t make any difference when it comes to Maximum Football 2018’s performance, of course, but it’s still incredibly disconcerting.
Odd-looking players would be forgivable if the on-field action was decent, but — as you probably gathered from the fact that players tend to fall over in the middle of the open field — it’s very much not. A big reason why is that the game’s physics are completely broken. The ball doesn’t behave like a football should: it doesn’t bounce at all, nor does it spin or rotate when it’s in the air. Kicks either don’t go anywhere at all (as evidenced by the fact that my first time kicking the ball led to a damp squib of an onside kick) or they go in straight, unbending lines. Throwing is even more of an adventure: I never once had a throw go anywhere near its intended target, and it would frequently change course in midair.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that catches are a rare adventure. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when a player will catch a ball: sometimes the receiver could be standing right on the target and have the ball fall uselessly to the field, while others the receiver will be ten yards from the target only to suddenly have him teleport downfield to where the ball is headed.
Maximum Football 2018 is so bad that it can’t even get things like the clock or the coin flip right. One time I won the flip and opted to kick; the very next screen I was choosing which receiving play I wanted to run. Another time, I chose to start the game by kicking off, only to find that when I started the second half, I was kicking off again.
As for the game clock…it seems to operate completely independently of the game. In my time with Maximum Football 2018, I saw the clock start running down even before kick-off had taken place. I saw it continue when the previous play had been an incomplete pass. I once even saw the game continue despite the fact the clock had already run down. I mean, I know the CFL has slightly different clock rules from the NFL, but this game takes that to an absurd degree.
I really wish I could say anything positive about Maximum Football 2018. After all, it’s clearly a labour of love, and you hate to say something bad about a game that people have so clearly put their hearts and souls into. But when the end result is something as bad in every conceivable way as this game is, your options for positive words are pretty limited. Maybe one day down the road this franchise may evolve into a worthy Madden alternative, but right now, it’s not even close to being a passable stopgap solution.
Canuck Play provided us with a Maximum Football 2018 Xbox One code for review purposes.