BackStab Review

By , on June 24, 2011

  • Publisher: Gameloft
  • Genre: Action
  • Released: 23 Jun, 2011
  • Size: 584.4 MB
  • Price: $6.99
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • Free-running fun in the sun; jump from building to building as a pirate rogue, serving up mayhem wherever you go.
  • Simplistic controls; makes it easy for casual gamers to approach the title.
  • Sharp, detailed graphics; when it's right it's so very very right.


  • Kitchen-sink approach to gameplay; lots of side-missions that serve little purpose other than distraction.
  • Performance problems; some areas handled poorly by the engine, graphical and gameplay glitches can ruin moments.


BackStab is less assassin and more rogue in its approach to open-world action, but if you're simply after a skull-cracking romp you'll get your full share here.

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On one hand we've already had an Assassin's Creed game on the iOS - your mileage may vary on how successful it was for you, but we got one. On the other, Gameloft have decided to give gamers what they expected to see, albeit with a pirate-y touch in BackStab.

Henry Blake has been betrayed by his supposed long-time friend Kane for crimes against his people and after four years Blake is finally given the opportunity to escape his imprisonment and seek revenge. So far, so standard, but if you didn't see the first twist coming immediately you're less likely to be upset at the direction the game takes shortly thereafter. Suffice to say your swashbuckling hero will spend most of his time brooding over his plans for revenge while spending a whole lot of time acting as a sort of errand boy for the citizens around him.

In keeping with its assassin-ish roots, Blake is able to free-run over most terrain by simply running towards it. This presents some problems, notably the times when it doesn't activate, requiring a jump to get things started or needing to tweak a camera angle just to drop down a level. Overall the controls aim for simplicity over immersion and when they work you'll find yourself flitting across rooftops, dropping down on foes and countering groups of enemies with ease.

Sadly this doesn't allow for a lot of depth in the gameplay either, meaning battles can be often reduced to a simple matter of jabbing attack until enemies are dead. The lack of finesse and challenge in the combat leads to Blake being more of a brute than a dashing hero, but at least he's willing to pick flowers when the time calls for it.

On the surface of it, BackStab is a pretty game to look at, but the polish is lacking and at times the game engine struggles to keep up with what's on screen, leading to some nasty bugs. The visuals are also backed up by some decent voice acting performances, but the decision to break up the dialogue with odd pauses simply to fit the stiff animations renders some cutscenes as all but painful to experience. What should be a rich world filled with the occasional ruckus comes off as incredibly sterile.

Without a question, BackStab aims high, but between its bland combat and somewhat scattershot approach to gameplay, the final result is something that falls short of the mark due to its lack of direction. Fans of games like Assassins Creed would do well to approach this one with an open mind; if all you're after is an excuse to run around and smack some heads you're far more likely to enjoy whats on offer in this title.


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