|Ball Breakers is Take Two Interactives latest release in
their "games for $9.99" strategy. Awhile back I played another of the $9.99
games, Grudge Warriors, and it was god awful bad nasty. It wasnt fun, the control
was crap, and it had the worst graphics Id ever seen on my PlayStation. I almost
felt bad reviewing it; it was like slapping a mentally defective puppy it was so
incapable of defending itself or offering any resistance that it felt like a morally
reprehensible act of the highest magnitude. Needless to say, I was more than a little
skeptical about Ball Breakers, but this time the news is better.
In Ball Breakers you play one of five synthetic life forms. You dont have any feet or legs, but you do hover over a ball so you can roll around and do battle with other legless android killers. Youve been sentenced to the most horrendous of prisons, where the worst robots in the galaxy are sent to do battle in gladiator contests. If you win, you get to live to fight another day, and if you win all the contests in all prisons you get, well, something. The story is a little shaky, and the backgrounds on the characters are pretty thin, but the game doesnt really need them anyway.
Each prison offers a number of different challenges taken from the following list: Last Man Standing, which is pretty a self explanatory fight to the finish, Run the Gauntlet, in which you zoom through an obstacle course trying to avoid guns, flamethrowers, other robots, and such. Pursuit is much like Run the Gauntlet except the ground is also collapsing behind you. In Powerball you and an opponent do battle while picking up balls and chucking them at a goal post for points. In Tag, you have to collect a set number of objects in a given amount of time, and Race and King of the Hill are exactly what they sound like. The variety of game modes is easily Ball Breakers most noteworthy feature. All of the modes can be entertaining, but no single game mode is deep enough to be fun for an extended amount of time. By constantly rotating modes the game becomes far more playable.
The graphics arent bad, but theyre certainly dated by at least a couple of years. On the plus side, they mop up the floor with the graphics in Grudge Warriors and theyre good enough that they dont detract from the game. The control is simplistic, but adequate. The combat is too simple, containing only one attack button and a couple of special maneuvers. The robot movement actually manages to give a real sense of momentum as you roll around on the battlefield, which is a definite plus.
The multiplayer mode is perhaps where the most time can be spent in Ball Breakers, allowing two players to duel in the above mentioned modes. Although the combat system is too shallow to provide an extended interest, its simplicity might also make it attractive to younger gamers, who are probably more likely to be looking at a game that cost ten bucks in the first place.
Ball Breakers is a giant leap forward from either Spec Ops or Grudge Warriors. Its entertaining and challenging for a while, and considering the multiplayer aspect, a respectable amount of time can be spent with Ball Breakers before becoming thoroughly bored, which is about all you can ask from a ten dollar game. A few hours of entertainment for the veteran gamers, but significantly longer for little Sally and her younger brother.