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Backstab Review: A Story of Betrayal, Love, and Quite a bit of Action

The story starts out with you, the main character, as a high-ranking official in the British army going to war with the intruding Spanish army, presumably sometime during the 18th century and the French and Indian War (Hundred Years’ War, etc.).

But in a story that somewhat reminds us of The Count of Monte Cristo, you get betrayed and imprisoned, ultimately going from high-ranking official and soon-to-be wed to imprisoned, tarnished, and ruined.

You then join some sort of rebellion against Britain; therefore, you become an enemy of the country you once fought for.

The gameplay itself is very much like Assassin’s Creed with a little bit of Grand Theft Auto elements snuck in there, suck as the “criminal” level, along with being able to steal other people’s horses.

It’s all quite an intriguing mix of story and gameplay — one that is actually quite enjoyable — but there are some factors that leave it short of ultimate praise.

For one, the gameplay is very repetitive in the whole tapping mechanism; shooting the soldiers is very inconvenient and takes a bit too long in the heat of battle.  Also, the graphics and animations on the iPad 2 aren’t exactly the greatest, as the framerate seems a bit slow, and the player models are very geometric.


Gameplay: Gameloft is really one of the only companies that manages to create these blockbuster, action-packed games, and it seems to manage to create a slightly different gameplay mechanism in each of its games.  Backstab isn’t any different — what — with its guns, grenades, swords, cannons… the list goes on and on.  While the gameplay does get a bit repetitive—I do wish there were some sort of combo system—it is quite enjoyable and one that shouldn’t disappoint action fans.

Storyline: The storyline really reminds me of Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, one book that I enjoyed and still continue to enjoy.  And if I’m not mistaken, this seems to be an original Gameloft game with no real “copied” game that I can think of.  Well props to them for such an intriguing storyline and a game title that fits quite snugly with the entire theme.

Universal: I love universal; even more when Gameloft decides to go universal for no extra cost.  Nothing to lose, so much to gain.


Repetitive: The fighting system in this game could use slightly more depth; there are no different combos and the like, with only one button for sword fighting and one for shooting.

Graphics, Animations, Etc.: I never thought this day would come: the day I bash on Gameloft’s graphics.  Well here I am, looking at Backstab, and sitting in utter disbelief at how terrible the character models, animations, and graphics are.  Ok, maybe not terrible.  But definitely not up to par with the graphics of games such as Aralon or Nova; heck, not even up to par with Modern Combat: Sandstorm.  The framerate on the iPad 2 also seems less than ideal — maybe around 20 fps at times — and it all just seems quite out of character for Gameloft.

The graphics and animations aren’t so horrendous that it ruins the gameplay, but it could use some improvement.  And it is definitely not on par with Gameloft’s previous games.

Backstab is an enjoyable, action-packed game that I don’t think will disappoint many in terms of gameplay and storyline.  All of it is intriguing, interesting, and enjoyable; there’s nothing like it on the App Store.  It is a little repetitive though, and the graphics and animations really keep it back from being named one of the best on the App Store.  The performance isn’t really up to par either.  But all in all, Backstab is a solid game that is enough to keep you busy for more than a few hours.

Backstab was developed by Gameloft, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPad 2.  The price is $6.99.