|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Natural Motion Games|
|Pub: 505 Games|
|Release: June 29, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
As a result, the game is fun only as a brief distraction; if you play it seriously, it'll just make you mad. Perhaps its best aspect is the local multiplayer, which pits you and a friend against gangs of opposing players, or against each other. Whether it's competitive or cooperative depends on the mode and whether you see the harder levels as puzzles to solve together, or as no-holds-barred races to your objective. (Fair warning: If you see every level as strictly competitive, you'll probably be restarting a lot when both of you fail.)
Unfortunately, multiplayer doesn't work nearly as well online. In Supremacy, there's a two-console limit, which is awfully weird for a four-person race. And worst of all, there are occasional lag issues, making it even more difficult to nail the tight maneuvers when the game gets hard.
But back on the positive side, if you're a real lover of football, you will experience some truly awesome physical moments while playing Backbreaker Vengeance—faking out multiple defenders at once, blasting a running back off his feet, gloating as you break into the end zone. (Yes, there's a gloat button.) The reason these moments work so well is the Euphoria physics engine, NaturalMotion's crowning achievement. It's been widely licensed; in fact, Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption both made use of it. Each element of the character models moves with perfect fluidity, and when bodies collide, the resulting movements look perfectly natural—and painful. As in Trials HD, it's sometimes fun just to see what kind of awful contortions you can make your player endure.
The physics aren't the only thing that's great about the presentation. The stadiums come alive in high definition, the hip hop background music pops out of your speakers, and the sound effects are frighteningly realistic. If anything, this game looks and sounds better than the original $50 version of Backbreaker. But is the awesome presentation worth $15 when the gameplay is so simplistic and so frustrating? I say no.
It's clear from this game that NaturalMotion is an immensely talented developer, and that future versions of Backbreaker should be a lot of fun. They've come a long way since botching the original game. It's unfortunate, though, that they decided to make Vengeance a trumped-up minigame collection that's hard to control instead of a simple and fun arcade football game.
CCC Contributing Writer