Backbreaker: Vengeance is a downloadable Xbox LIVE title based on a popular cell phone game, which in turn is based on the sport of football. Not necessarily a football game, it’s more of an arcade style challenge to run the football down the length of the field, avoiding tacklers and obstacles along the way in each stage.
Backbreaker: Vengeance has three modes of play. The first mode, Tackle Alley, pits you against a bunch of tacklers as you run the ball all the way from one end zone to another. Use the left analog stick to run and the right stick to dodge and weave around opponents. You can also press buttons to jump, slide, and charge your way through tacklers. Your opponents are highlighted in different colors so you’ll know which buttons to push so you can dodge them.
There are also other obstacles in each stage that you must overcome. Hurdles to jump over, score pads to run across to boost your score, and out of bounds patches on the field that you’ll want to stay away from. Once you reach the goal, you can press a button to showboat to boost your score even more. Just be careful not to overdo it, as the tacklers can still get you! Hold down the trigger buttons to sprint, but you’ll lose some turning control in the process.
In Vengeance mode, the roles are reversed and YOU’RE the tackler. You must knock down the other player before he gets a touchdown. All the rules from the first mode apply here. You must avoid other blockers and boost your score with new obstacles like tackle dummies.
The last mode of play is the hardest. In Supremacy, it’s you against three other jocks as you race to the goal. The player with the lowest score becomes the tackler in the next stage, and whoever has the highest score by the end of the set of races wins. By winning challenges in these three game modes, you can win bronze, silver, and gold helmets as well as new team jersey colors to outfit your player with.
The game also makes good use of LIVE online modes. You can compete online in various matches, and even in single player mode, they’ll take a rival score from the leaderboards for you to beat (and some of those scores are pretty crazy, how DO they do that?).
A neat aspect of the game I learned while at E3 is its unique physics engine, which allows for different tackle animations every time you play. This makes for some cool replays. The 3-D graphics as a whole are also pretty good for an Xbox LIVE game. I’m almost surprised this wasn’t a retail disc game, due to the good visuals and solid amount of content.
Backbreaker fumbles in a few areas, though. I had a hard time getting the right timing when pushing buttons to avoid tacklers. It’s always earlier than what I expected. And while the game starts simple to ease you into the gameplay, it gets pretty tough quickly. It’s nice that when you miss, you can quickly restart so it’s not too frustrating. But it is annoying when you lose all your lives and have to start the whole challenge over from the last group of stages.
Believe it or not, I’m not going to complain too much about the 1200 point price, as there is quite a bit of content and neat visuals in this downloadable title. If you want a quick pick-up-and-play arcade style football game without having to mess with all the complicated rules of the regular Madden titles, then Backbreaker: Vengeance would definitely be worth a try for you.
Backbreaker: Vengeance is rated E for Everyone. While there is lots of tackling, it’s no more violent than watching a football game on TV. Young players might get frustrated at the difficulty, but it would be a great kids’ football title since the gameplay is so easy to understand. It’s just too bad the game is so hard.