Backbreaker Vengeance Review
In a time when the NFL is cutting down on celebrations, Backbreaker Vengeance encourages showboating. Score a touchdown or land a big hit and rub it in your opponent's face. Other than that, Backbreaker Vengeance offers little else, making it an experience that is enjoyable for about 15 minutes until you get bored of big hits and repetitive celebrations. Backbreaker Vengeance has been slimmed down so much that it could hardly be considered a football game. The players wear helmets and pads and carry a football on a field with lines, but other than that, every element of the sport has been removed. My biggest gripe is that the game doesn't even feature other aspects of football in its mini-games. All three of the gameplay modes revolve around someone carrying a ball. There is no passing, no kicking, no punting---nothing that even resembles football.
Backbreaker Vengeance offers three main gameplay modes: Tackle Alley, Vengeance, and Supremacy. Unfortunately, these three mini-games are nothing more than miniature obstacle courses with different goals but similar gameplay styles. In Tackle Alley, your goal is to dodge tacklers while trying to showboat your way into the end zone. Similarly, in Vengeance, the goal is to tackle the ball carrier while simultaneously dodging blockers. Supremacy is a little different in the sense that you are competing against three other players for the high score, but like the other two modes, it revolves around dodging, tackling, and jumping over obstacles. As you complete a challenge, you unlock the next one, which is the pretty much the same but with an added obstacle or a slimmer path.
Like last year's Backbreaker, the graphics look similar. It has the same plastic look with little or no bump-mapping, but it works for this type of arcade-style game. The stadiums are massive and make you feel like you are in the middle of action, although I have a hard time imagining this many fans would show up to see a player running an obstacle course.
If nothing else, this game's physics system offers some funny moments, like tripping over a hurdle and falling on your face. And it will definitely supply a lot of "oh, damn!" big hit moments. The collision detection can get rather frustrating. At times a mere nick from a defender or hurdle will cause you to fail a wave and have to restart. And with the shaky and distorted camera perspective, it makes it hard to judge when exactly to juke, slide, or jump, resulting in failure.
You'd think a game that focuses on a precision-based obstacle course would give you a little more control over your character. That is not the case with Backbreaker Vengeance. The ability to make a quick, sharp turn doesn't exist. You literally have to run in a giant roundabout circle to face the other direction. For a game that offers fairly realistic physics when tackling, you'd think the ability to simply turn around would be a primary feature. It's not.
The game's concept is basic, but it lacks any real motivating factors. Juke players, showboat, and score points to get ranked against players worldwide. It's fun for a little while, until you realize there is no real outcome and the gameplay and controls are problematic. The goal of becoming the top scorer can only take a game so far. I understand not including some type of playable "arcade-style" football game, but it's unreasonable not to at least include various aspects of football---not just running the ball---for football-related mini-games. Backbreaker Vengeance is a glorified obstacle course attempting to sell itself as a football game.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]