With EA and Gameloft busy duking it out for the wallets of the simulation football geeks, the Backbreaker franchise has neatly established a small niche for itself. Instead of focusing on licensed NFL action, Backbreaker is a physics-based casual game that emphasizes hard hits, slick moves, and showboating action similar to drills seen in the New York Jets training camp. Backbreaker 2: Vengeance aims to build on the steps made by its predecessor, and we were curious to learn how it’s stepping up its game.
Last September, we found much to like in the original Backbreaker game. Not only did it look great, but the gameplay was simple and fun. Its Achilles’ heel was the glaring lack of content or extras to provide value.
Backbreaker 2 goes a long way towards shoring up that weakness by not only packing on 50 levels of the ball-carrying mayhem fans are used to, but by including a whole new mode allowing you play as a defensive player. In an unusual design decision, the additional mode is locked until you successfully complete all the offensive levels.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Much of the gameplay remains the same from last year, with some interesting mechanical changes. First off, you can now run or jump over defenders in Backbreaker 2 while barreling toward the end zone. The computer-controlled defenders have different hues cluing you in on how they’re going to tackle you, and it works well.
Also, dynamic out of bounds barriers and obstacles add additional complexity to each level. The idea is great, but the execution is sometimes clumsy, particularly on the later stages. Backbreaker 2, at times, feels like a game designed for platforms with physical joysticks and buttons. Split-second moves and adjustments are required from the game, but the touchscreen isn’t tuned for that level of precision. This doesn’t ruin the game, but there will be moments when you’ll want to chuck your iOS device.
As expected, the graphical prowess of Backbreaker 2 is sensational. The color palette here has a very sharp and dark feel that’s different from the bright visuals of other football games. Players still animate with a visual fidelity that’s unmatched by any other sports game on iOS.
Kris Kross’ll make ya…
It’s not flawless, though. Some regrettable collision detection can cause phantom tackles and stumbles over obstacles. Plus, Backbreaker 2’˜s replays do a great job of showing all the angles to see weird superman tackle or guys tripping over invisible barriers.
We appreciate the attempts made to give Backbreaker 2 added replay value. Full Game Center support means achievements and scoreboards are integrated throughout the game. Most of the achievements are a breeze to earn, and the toughest ones will have you sinking in hours to snag them. We are bummed that multiplayer didn’t make the cut, but it’s obvious the resources went towards the 100+ levels to conquer.
Without question, Backbreaker 2 is a great follow-up to a good game. By any objective measure, the bar has been raised. Even with some finicky control issues and poor level design, we couldn’t stop playing. For a game that’s designed to encourage that ‘one more time’ attitude, Backbreaker 2 is completely solid where it counts.