Go long... longer. Keep going. Keep going....
I did not like Backbreaker. Go ahead, read my review. Spoiler alert: D+. Nope, not a fan. So what does Natural Motion do? They come out with another one... and here I am reviewing Backbreaker again. Wait a second... what's this? A subtitle? Vengeance? Who do they think they are?!
Backbreaker Vengeance has forced me to eat my words. I said that Backbreaker was "frustrating", "limiting", "plastic", and that "cursing [was] the most fun I had with the game". I take it all back in light of Backbreaker Vengeance. Wait, wait. The original still sucks, but this downloadable football game is less football and more game. Vengeance manages to make football deep, challenging, and more importantly, enjoyable.
Natural Motion have taken their meathead-looking football player models and put them to the only use they have in this godforsaken world of digital football: virtual tackling dummies. No matter the mode, your objective is always to evade or to tackle. In each game mode—Tackle Alley, Vengeance, and Supremacy—you won't be tackling, picking plays, or caring who you're playing as. Just tackle, run, tackle, jump, tackle, barge, and tackle some more!
Tackle Alley throws back to Backbreaker's original Tackle Alley minigame but blows it out to 11. Players have to reach the endzone no matter what gets in their way. Running through specified zones, sliding under, juking around, and barging through tacklers will also rack up varied amounts of points. If players feel cocky at the end of a run, they can also showboat for more points. Vengeance teaches all of these elements before mixing them up and ramping up the difficulty masterfully. When players realize that they can actually double back and rack up even more points, things get really intense.
Vengeance puts the player on the other side of that equation. A computer-controlled opponent stands at the opposite end of the field. Highlighted zones will tally points for tacklers as well, but they can be a dangerous distraction. Ultimately, if the player fails to tackle the AI opponent, they'll fail the challenge. Tackle Alley and Vengeance both come with 20 challenges at 5 rounds a piece, and when you factor in replaying challenges for more points, players will easily come away with hours of entertainment.
Supremacy mixes things up a bit by combining racing and infection styles of play. In five rounds, the highest score wins, but what players do each round can change frequently. At first, four players race to reach the endzone, all the while vaulting over barriers and hitting scoring zones first for even more points. The lowest scoring player of the round becomes the tackler. The tackler sees a gold hue around the highest scoring player, so there's a big opportunity for relieving grief.
There are ten rounds of Supremacy for solo-players, but each mode can also be played competitively online. Backbreaker Vengeance also subtley pits you against scaling online opponents. You'll see the scores of players around the world who are just above you on the leaderboards, kind of like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit's Autolog, except on a global scale; competitors don't have to be on each other's friends lists in Backbreaker Vengeance.
While the game isn't without its problems, including some poor hit detection and wonky online matchmaking, Backbreaker Vengeance is a massive step up from the original football sim Natural Motion and 505 published last year. It trims the fat and provides more fun, more entertainment, and more tackling in a streamlined and admittedly smarter package. There are certainly worse things to spend $15 on.
Just do yourself a favor and download the demo. It's still a football game, but Backbreaker Vengeance is so far from a sim, it's hard to say any given gamer couldn't enjoy it, no matter their tastes.