What can you do if you want to offer gamers something to complement a full sports simulation game? How about some kind of high score chasing, mini-game collection.
Sorry. I didn’t mean to use the “mini-game” word and upset all of the “core” gamers out there. But that is essentially what Backbreaker: Vengeance from 505 Games is. But before you run off and try to find a proper game, hear me out – This is not your usual collection of mini-games.
I can quite happily admit to never picking up an American Football video game in my life. I have seen them being played and they hold absolutely no interest for me. It could be the rules, the stop/start nature of the game or even the weird little tactical plays which involve loads of dots and arrows flying everywhere. But in Backbreaker: Vengeance, there are just three simple objectives, each relating to the three different modes.
In Tackle Alley the objective is to quite simply get your player into the endzone. This may involve sliding under or leaping over tackles or obstacles and running full pelt for the end of the pitch. The second mode, Vengeance, turns the tables and sets the player as a defender with the objective of tackling the guy with the ball. The third mode is called supremacy and once again gives the player the ball and challenges them to reach the endzone. This time around though, there are three other players all trying to get there first, and the lowest scoring player has to play the defender in the next round.
The three modes offer plenty of quick-hit excitement, with each mode having some twenty levels to work through and each level comprising five waves. This in itself would keep most gamers going for a fair while, but when you factor in the scoring system things get really interesting.
Making it to the endzone, or tackling an opponent is not enough in Backbreaker: Vengeance. Players will find themselves trying to score high and place well on the global leaderboards too. The player scores points for each action on the field, such as jumping, sliding and tackling. Linking these actions together in quick succession will give the player a multiplier to boost their score. There are also bonus point patches on the field that will provide extra points when crossed. Sweet spots in the end zone and a nice dose of showboating into the scoring area are more ways of increasing that score.
This results in the player trying to figure out the highest scoring route across the field, which judging by the scores on the global leaderboard I am way off from finding. The temptation to play through a level again, just in an attempt to tweak your run by holding down the trigger to sprint for a little longer, or take on that other opponent for that extra 250 points. In this respect the game is quite compulsive.
The simplicity of your objective, combined with the surprisingly complex ways of achieving it, make for quite a fun single player experience. But the addition of multiplayer options, both online and split-screen, certainly raise the game. Whilst the AI will provide the challenge in single player, real-life opponents will provide the laughs in multiplayer.
It is perhaps the simplicity of the game that may prove to be the most off-putting to gamers. Although each wave in each level is more or less different, the three basic game modes do not offer that much variety and when the price of the game is taken into account, 1200 MSPoints, players may feel that it should be more complex and more varied. There is a lot of content here, as long as you don’t mind running for the endzone and trying to stop someone else reaching the endzone.
Backbreaker: vengeance offers players a “run the gauntlet” style experience, wrapped in an American Football theme, across three different game modes. It provides moments of excitement and hilarity, and is damn good fun. Whether there is enough fun to justify the steep asking price, I am not sure. Give the game a look and make your own mind up. Like me, you may be surprised.