Backyard Football '10 Review
If the game's cover image of NFL stars with giant heads and ill-fitting clothes didn't already tip you off, then let me start by letting you know that Backyard Football '10 is a kids' game. It's designed to be kid-friendly in many regards and if you're old enough to read this review without stumbling on multisyllabic words like 'multisyllabic' you'll probably grow bored with it after one game. Your gamer score could easily be 1,000 points higher after that one game, but you'll be bored nonetheless.
Backyard Football '10 features a number of NFL stars and every team in the NFL is available for play, but there are not enough pro players to fill out a team - even though the game features seven on seven play and players go both ways. There's not even a correspondence between the NFL players and their real teams, as quick games will give you a random selection of NFL players and 'backyard' kids and in the other modes you'll pick your players just as you did in pick-up games during recess all those years ago. The players are rated in a number of categories, but there's not that big of a difference between them when you get them out on the field, and the players can pretty much play any position - you can win with Brian Urlacher at quarterback without too much trouble. The players don't look anything like their real-world counterparts, so having licensed players in the game doesn't amount to more than some players having famous names and some not. I know this is supposed to be a kids' game and it may sound petty to harp on something like this, but if the game is supposed to be helping kids learn about football shouldn't it also teach them that Peyton Manning is the quarterback for the Colts? In this game he could show up as a receiver for the Browns or a lineman for Texans. And what about adding some tips for young players like passing advice from Drew Bledsoe? The NFL license is completely underutilized and the game may as well have stuck with a bunch of random kids for the players.
On the field the game is pretty easy, especially when set on the easiest level, but I'm a little confused by its approach to the game. If this is a football game for little kids, why is the playbook so large? There should be just a couple of passing and running plays to keep things simple for young kids. And wouldn't you want the plays to develop in a way that makes it really obvious as to how the play is supposed to work? It would be good if the running lanes were opened nicely so a kid could learn about rushing techniques, but in the game running plays aren't that distinct from each other in spite of the large playbook. The passing game is over simplified as well - on the easiest setting you push any button and the pass automatically goes to the open receiver. Even when you're picking the receiver yourself, there doesn't seem to be any correspondence between how well a player is defended and whether or not a pass is complete, incomplete, or intercepted. There's a difference between keeping things simple and making them overly easy. It seems to me that teaching a kid that bad passes lead to interceptions is better than teaching them that they can succeed without really trying.
There's also a feature in the game that is taken from arcade football games like NFL Blitz and NFL Street - as you make good plays you fill a meter that when full lets you use a power-up cheat. For example, on defense you can cause the ball to be covered in glue making it impossible for the quarterback to pass or on offense you can turn your ball carrier into an impossible to tackle stampeding bull. I've never been a big fan of these types of cheats as they tend to swing the game in one direction and take the fun out of it. It's a rich keep getting richer sort of thing and the player on the short end of the stick can have little chance of catching up because big plays lead to power-ups, which lead to more big plays and more power-ups, etc. It's frustrating for an adult to be helpless to stop one cheat after another, and I imagine it's even worse for a kid.
Overall, the game's production values are pretty basic as are its graphics and sound - the game's background music is on such a short loop it can drive anyone of any age crazy. Again, for a kids' game simple is OK, crummy is not. Kids deserve better...
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 55%. You're better off just taking your kids out back and tossing around a real football.