American Football is a quite slow, and tactical sport. Setting up runs, passes and punts take quite a while compared to the actual action. In Backbreaker you get only the action. Forget about drawing plays, instead focus is on quick reactions. The sequel Backbreaker 2: Vengeance adds both the ability to tackle, and some extra moves.
Movement of your player is controlled by the accelerometer. If you sit or stand this setting works well. Forget about playing this game in bed or in any kind relaxed position besides sitting down. There is no way to calibrate the accelerometer, and as it controls forward motion as well you can’t just rely on side movements. I would of course have liked either a way to calibrate manually or some sort of touch controls for movement. Looking at the vast number of touch buttons I can understand why there is no virtual joystick.
The moves from Backbreaker are still here: jukes, 360 spins, sprint and showboating. New moves include the truck to push opponents away, and the jump. To jump you tap anywhere in the centre of the screen that isn’t cluttered with controls. Obstacles, and certain opponents wearing red can be jumped. I mention clutter, and that is one of my concerns with the game. The original balanced on the edge between simulation, and arcade action. It is a fine line to walk, and Backbreaker 2: Vengeance trucks over it. It takes too much effort from me as the player to overview the controls, and execute them quickly. To be fair it is almost enough just handling the movement of the player. It might sound like I am daft or something not managing to choose, and use the six on-screen buttons and tap to jump. Think about it like this. Need for Speed: Shift was one of the first games to remove the gas pedal in a racing game for iPhone. They did that because the focus should be on controlling the car, and handle obstacles ahead. This has more or less become a standard for racers, even if the option for manual acceleration is there in games like Real Racing 2. My point is that Backbreaker 2 has a lot in common to a racing game. Instead of streamlining the experience more obstacles in the hud, and controls have been added.
Backbreaker 2: Vengeance is a fun game, as long as the controls keep up. When the challenge increases it starts feeling like a flight simulation in how many actions are needed to complete a wave. The new Vengeance mode where you have to tackle an opposing QB is quite fun. To me the original gameplay is still more fun, and gets me more motivated. Even if you have enjoyed the original you will find new content for the tackle alley game mode.
When the original Backbreaker entered the App Store it was a graphical masterpiece. It was a revolution in realistic, fluent player motion. The sequel looks almost the same, and I would have liked to see the developer pushing the envelope. With games such as Infinity Blade, and Rage HD for iPhone the graphics in Backbreaker 2: Vengeance isn’t as impressive. Furthermore it lacks Retina display graphics, and the game isn’t universal for the iPad. As the original is a universal binary it is weird not having it for the sequel as well.
Game Center is integrated for your high score needs. Some users report a lot of crashes playing the game. I have had a few as well playing it on my iPhone 4. These have happened when the game has communicated with Game Center. Local achievements are also available.
Backbreaker 2: Vengeance is a well-presented arcade game. A lack of control options, and a clutter of onscreen buttons make it less appealing than the original. Furthermore the lack of both Retina display, and being a universal binary lowers the impression. I presume that the game will be updated to have both, but I can’t take it in consideration for my final rating. If you want to have all the action from American football definitely consider picking it up, or the more streamlined original for that matter.
Backbreaker 2: Vengeance $0.99 Sale
Seller: NaturalMotion Games Limited