Despite really not liking sports in almost any form, there’s a strange allure to arcade-style takes such as Guts ’N Goals. I guess it’s the far less serious approach and over the top action, and both of those statements are accurate when talking about GNG. Mixing football – or soccer – with melee combat, zombies, Pong, hockey, and more, it’s a fun game to unwind with of an evening.
Starting out there’s not much to choose from. A very short and sharp Grand Prix mode is all we really get. This lets us get used to the basics nicely while still providing some immediate fun. The base concept here is a game of football, with players hitting the ball – and other players – with bats rather than kicking as they run around the pitch. First to 2 goals wins, and it’s about as fast and frantic as you’d expect. A hit of the ball sees it go a short distance, while a charged shot will go further at the expense of the second or two it takes to charge. Each hit also sends the ball in a volley of sorts so it’s possible to lob other players. Likewise, a standard hit will take off one of the opposing teams players energy blocks while a charged hit will take two. By default each player has six to their name, and once all are gone they’re out for three seconds before getting up and carrying on. This mix of combat and sport proves to be a good laugh as inevitably teams bundle towards the ball, bats swinging, and carnage ensues.
Matches are three minutes a piece, though in reality they very rarely last that long thanks to the speed and a not-insignificant amount of luck. It’s fully possible to complete a match within ten seconds should we have a lucky hit or kick-off, and I found that most of my games were over well within the first minute one way or another. Should it threaten to go the distance, a random mutator is introduced for the last 60 seconds. This can range from having our KO time extending, to removing them altogether, increasing player speed, or a whole host of other effects. New ones are unlocked with each run of the Career as well as purchasable in the item shop (no MTX here though) or unlocked via playing optional minigames. Again, I very rarely saw many of these in action, but it helps spice up what is already a cavalcade of action to begin with.
GNG doesn’t stop there though. As well as the soccer matches there are mini games – where we need to traverse a course to score a goal – and mutator matches. These add in a lot of variety, bringing as they do things like zombies or king of the hill rules, to name just two. Often, the two goal requirement is lifted in favour of high score chasing, first to 99 wins. So it’s a case of bashing opponents, enemies, or even stationary targets to get that number up first within the time limit.
There’s a lot of content in GNG to unlock, from dozens of characters to skins, maps, weapons, and modes. One of the latter is MVP Hunter, a roguelike addition that tasks players with working their way through a series of challenges to get to a final boss. These take on not only various forms of the above modes, but also simple choices, like whether to attack an enemy from behind or speak to a stranger. It’s a fun, unexpected addition to the game, and is far more fleshed out than the simplistic career.
The MVP Hunter and Grand Prix mode can only be played solo, but the multiplayer side of the game game supports up to six players. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to test this out yet as, well…you know… but later online play is promised to come to console so that’ll be a blast no doubt. As it is, the AI do a pretty solid job of both being fun to play against as well as with. There’s a definite delay to some of their inputs to give players a chance to catch up, but on the whole it’s fun enough.
It’s not without fault mind. Some of the mutator matches and MVP Hunter rounds can feel incredibly unfair. Most often these are the ones where we’re in a handicap match, and having four capable AI against just us or us and one partner almost deflates some of the air of the gameplay at times. One mode in particular stood out; each team takes turns to have one player designated ‘it’, with them turning into a defenceless chicken. This only last around fifteen seconds or so before switching to the other team, but when we’re playing as the chicken we don’t seem to get any sort of speed boost or help. One round saw me versus four AI, and when it came my teams turn to be chicken well…I was the only one. This meant that for each fifteen second stint not only could I not outrun the AI thanks to them being laser focused on me, but I also couldn’t score any points of my own, and when it was my turn I was roundly beaten down immediately by the three non-chickens also meaning I couldn’t score. This aspect bleeds over into other modes at times, albeit not often enough to sour the experience fully. It can also be hard to keep track of things on some stages where environmental elements obscure our view but not the AI’s. Naturally grabbing other fleshy opponents would mitigate this somewhat but until online play is included these aspects could prove to sour an otherwise fun, arcade experience.
In the here and now, Guts ’N Goals is fun in short bursts, at least solo. There’s a ton of stuff to unlock, the match types are fast and hectic and the extra modes prove to be a great way of mixing things up. It’d make a great addition to a local multiplayer night again in the near future, and once online play is there there’ll be more incentive to keep returning.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.