The NFL franchise and all of its teams and players has been tightly held onto since John Madden first lent his support of the idea back in the late 80s. Then back in 2010, the makers of the groundbreaking animation engine Euphoria, NaturalMotion, thought it was time to break the hold and release an American football game without the franchise called Backbreaker. Their engine removed the need for preset animations for gameplay – a big deal of which being for tackling – and showed the world what Euphoria could really do. This time around, we’ve got Backbreaker Vengeance, a collection of 3 mini-games encompassing the game as a whole on the Xbox Arcade.
Vengeance has three modes of play: Tackle Alley, where you must evade defenders on your road to the end zone using both speed and skill; Vengeance, where you get to do the exact opposite and destroy that little man running for the end zone; and Supremacy, where 4 players battle it out for top position by running for the end zone, collecting points and dodging the tackler (who is the lowest scoring player from the previous round). Each mode consist of a number of challenges, 20 for Tackle Alley and Vengeance and 10 for Supremacy, which are opened up after beating the previous one. Each has a 4 star rating, which then takes your high score and submits it to the leader board. This allows for a load of replay if you’re the competitive type but once you max out each challenge offline there’s only the online competitors to compete with. That said, they do a great job of encouraging the notion to do better by constantly reminding you of your place in the rankings and who your nearest rival is. In addition, there is offline play but it’s always nicer beating up someone you don’t know so you can really talk some trash when showboating the last 10 yards.
In terms of controls, graphics, and sound, well the original game was already released last year so they’re all up to scratch and particularly great for a Xbox Arcade game. That being said, it wouldn’t be fair to not mention Euphoria again and say just how nice it is; tackles feel and look great and the sound really adds that extra reminder of just how hard you got hit. Since you’re always controlling one player, it’s an easy game to just pick up and play since each mode follows the same scheme. Tackle Alley and Vengeance are pretty much your basic American football standards but with added showboating, obstacles, increased boundaries, and points to collect. Supremacy really just puts the two together but manages to be way more exhilarating, since your racing neck and neck with your components., it’s upsetting then that there are only 10 challenges.
The sad part of all of this is that it just isn’t worth 1200 points for 3 mini games. You’d just as well go pick up the actual title and have all the added features for a wee bit more. Each mode of play is fun and really helps kill time but in the end it would be a lot better to pick up the original and have the whole of an American football game to play.