Backyard Football 2010 Review (Wii)
This holiday season, kids in your family will undoubtedly ask for games as gifts. Some extremely gifted kids who are "with it" may even ask for sports games.
However, it’s a dangerous world out there for gift-buying parents and grandparents. Beyond the “pre-order” intimidation tactics and strategy guide rip-offs, astute consumers need to watch out for budget titles: those games which look attractive, but in reality will most likely become eggnog coasters.
Two recent sports games fall into the budget category, but have decidedly different approaches with the way they function, look, and treat kids: Backyard Football 10 and Academy of Champions: Soccer.
Each game features real life sports stars, arcade action, and a pricetag of around $30 for Wii owners. Beyond these three main similarities, both games are worlds apart.
First up, a review of Backyard Football 2010:
Over the summer, I reviewed Backyard Baseball 10, a game which I ripped for being a shadow of its former self. The clunky 3D graphics seemed to strip the charm away from a once beloved series.
I also didn’t like the way that it viewed children’s intelligence. The “draft” is simply “pick your favorite players;” in other words, no forethought is needed. The actual game was stripped down to its most basic element. And in a moment that probably best sums up the complete lack of polish, it was all started with an out of date intro video.
...but Some Games Don't
Besides a 2008 David Ortiz video, all of these criticisms apply to Backyard Football as well. When creating a team, users are able to just pick who they want. The CPU will just draft the leftovers.
The football is at its most “arcade-y” here as well, with only a handful of plays to choose from. There’s no play creator, no audibles, no hot routes. I get the feeling that the producers of these games have such a low opinion of kids intellect that they say “eh...kids won’t understand those things, leave ‘em out.”
This puts this game in an awkward spot. Sure it features young versions of NFL stars and a season mode. But if a child is savvy enough to want those things (ooh look, Tom Brady!), wouldn’t it be better just to buy them Madden? Madden has taken steps to make itself very accessible. Plus, you’ll be getting -- or giving -- better graphics, more modes, more NFL players, etc.
On a tangent, think about the other complex and detailed games children play. From things like Pokeman to Zelda, kids have always embraced the challenge of learning something new through video games. That’s part of the fun which Backyard Football 2010 seems to forget.
The graphics leave a bit to be desired, even on the Wii.
It's Not all Bad
There are some positives if you look hard enough. Like Backyard Baseball, there is some line-up management that has to be accounted for. Players play both ways, so you need to be somewhat conscious of that when picking teams. Still, the computer will create the optimal lineup as a default, so tinkering isn’t usually necessary. Of course, if you choose a stacked team, it’s not really that big of deal.
I also like that ratings are clearly in play. My speedy receiver with poor hands really couldn’t catch, regardless of how open he was. He occasionally got lucky. As frustrating as this sounds, it seemed realistic for a game featuring kids. It reminded me of the character Luis Mendoza from the Mighty Ducks films that could skate very fast, but he had trouble stopping.
While the graphics aren’t great, the fields are cleverly themed. Of course, football fields are just about the same, so the theme doesn’t affect play as much as it does in a baseball game. There is a good sense of depth, especially when throwing deep passes.
The game controls are a bit floaty, almost as if the players are on ice. The controls aren't horrible, but they certainly don't measure up to other football games.
Despite all of the flaws, there is some fun buried in Backyard Football 2010. Some of my games were close, and it was fun to see the stars playing other positions. I’m sure with a child playing in the mix, there is potential for some family bonding.
Overall, the concept for the Backyard games remains valid. Make a game for kids, featuring kids (of all types), sprinkled with kid-ified stars.
But the execution is flawed. The game lacks charm, and underestimates its audience.
Bottom-line, if the children in your family are old enough to play video games and if they really want a football game, shell out the extra money for Madden. Another better option would be to get Madden NFL Arcade if you have a 360 or PS3 laying around the house as well. Either way, I think they’ll thank you in the long run.
On the Field: Floaty Arcade football with crazy power-ups, little NFL stars, and kids. About what you’d expect.
Graphics: Not good, even by Wii standards. I think Turbo actually just doubles the standard run animation speed.
Sound: Commentary gets extremely repetitive. Commentary gets extremely repetitive.
Entertainment Value: Season mode and unlockables are what will keep you coming back.
Learning Curve: This is a game geared toward children, so it makes sense that it’s pretty easy to pick up and play.
Online Play: None
Score: 5 (Subpar)