When I was first given Backbreaker: Vengeance to review, I was quite sceptical over how good the game would be; I have never really liked sports games and know nothing about American football. After playing the game for a few hours though, I found an engaging, addictive and thoroughly enjoyable game that requires little-to-no knowledge of American football.
Backbreaker: Vengeance is a smaller, toned-down version of it’s retail release big brother Backbreaker. Instead of playing matches you end up trying one of three mini-games; Tackle Alley, Vengeance and Supremacy. Each one is basically and training exercise for a bigger game. Across all three modes is a scoring system based on dodges, hurdling and completing objectives, although you can also showboat which is basically showing off. There are also strategically placed “zones” as well, each has a number above it and if you manage to get your player with this zone then you get that many points.
Tackle Alley tasked you with five waves per challenge, during each wave you will have to overcome the defense set around the field. These involve out-of-bound areas, hurdles and other footballers. There are three types of footballers and each try a different move to try and knock ou down, but with every type of move there is a counter-move. This could be sliding underneath them, bashing in them or jumping over them. If you can’t remember which one does which move then you can also juke (dodge) or spin out of the way. It’s a great way to dodge them if you can’t remember but you do get less score. With twenty challenges within this one game mode there’s plenty of content here and although frustrating at times is a lot of fun when you get it right. A problem I had with this, and other modes actually, is that you don’t really get an over view of the field before you start. There is a quick overview when the timer starts but I would of like to have seen a detailed map before you started so you could work out your route beforehand.
Vengeance puts you in completely opposite shoes and pits you to take down the ball carrier. You still have other footballers to dodge, hurdles to jump, point zones but all you have to do is survive and take down the ball carrier before he can touchdown. It’s not hugely different to Tackle Alley but provides a little variety.
Supremacy is a completely different game mode, you and three other footballers race to the other end of the field. Whoever comes first gets the most points, whoever comes second gets the second most points, etc., etc., then whoever gets the least amount of points becomes a tackler the next round. So the top three people each round are ball carriers and the person who is last is the person trying to take one of them down. It’s extremely tactically as there are still point zones and hurdles to overcome so you have to decide whether or not you will get more points by coming first or getting the points and then finishing second or third. If you are targeted by the tackler there is no certainty that you will come last come as you can still use all of the dodging mechanics that were mentioned earlier.
There is an online part of the game as well, which comes as little surprise considering this is a sports game. It is basically the same modes but with multiple people, which although may seem basic, leads to some extreme competitiveness. One thing I did find was that the lag was causing me some grief as you need to jump at very specific times so I usual failed, but this is probably due to my internet connection and not the game.
I have to say that this game has been a surprise for me and I think it was due to it’s mini-games style, rather than match-style gameplay. As I said earlier the one problem I have with the game is the fact that you don’t get a proper overview of the field before you run it, but this is minor and you learn each “wave” very quickly, especially if you keep failing it! If you have played Backbreaker before this could be a nice little diversion and if not, then this is a great way to get into the series.