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Backbreaker

PS3 and Xbox360 Football Game

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Deep resources does not a football game make, but it makes it CLOSE

  • Jun 3, 2010
Rating:
+4

If you read my review on the demo, you have a general idea as to what my general opinion on the game was.  I am now writing the review on the full game, which should warrant a new entry.

Overview

It takes a lot to try and take on a mega conglomco like EA and its Sports division.  While I have to admint that the power of a monopoly can help in keeping your name as the main entry in a series, it certainly does leave you stagnant.  That is why games like Backbreaker need to exist to try and push the sluggish EA Sports division to do something amazing.  Does this full version of the game hold up or will it get sacked in the backfield before even making a pass?

Gameplay

While not much can be altered and changed with the concept of football itself (snap ball, pass, run, tackle), the way in which the game is presented can be altered many times.  Backbreaker prefers to leave the button mashing at home, letting arcade style stick movements control your abilities (passing, juking, spin moves, etc).  With a simple press of the right trigger, you can freely switch from aggressive to passive mode in running as well as normal to focus view for passing.  While in these modes, different mechanics open up and allow a whole host of ideas and abilities all strictly based on physics.

The playbook is simple and easy to pick from, in a more arcade style setup where not every team has something completely different to choose from.  You can easily pick a play that you feel you know no matter the team.  While this doesn't offer a lot of individual depth as far as teams go, if you know anything about the sport itself, you will know that the presentation in Backbreaker is closer to life than to Madden.  How many times can you try to reinvent the ISO run?  Not many.

Where the flaws start to get ugly is the AI, which can go from dumb as cheese with easy to insanity enducing annoyance in medium to demigod toying with your existence in hard.  I noticed a complete difference while trying to get used to the odd passing mechanic, finding the same passes I left hanging in medium that were getting picked off now were floating over the cornerbacks head like a harmless butterfly while he stood there watching.  I don't mind there being an easy but I do mind there being a "dumb" level.  I scored 28 points in a five minute quarter on easy where I could barely get 15 YARDS on medium.  Not quite level, if you ask me.

Single player campaigns are a little sparse if you are looking for a Madden style career mode, but then that is probably the greatest thing about this game as well.  It isn't TRYING to be Madden in that way, it just wants to do something that will give you an idea that it is football.  Multiplayer seems to be a bit buggy, but then I don't play multiplayer or online at any point in my life (I know, I am a dinosaur, I will be extinct from gaming soon enough... NOW STAY OFF MY LAWN!)  The little things also added up with the hidden teams and stadiums that you can unlock while doing the basics in this game.  To encourage people to go through the tutorial, there is a team that you can unlock that looks pretty powerful.  Since not many bother, they might never know these things exist.

Graphics and Sound--Production Values
The grapchis are as jaw dropping as they were when I mentioned them in the demo review.  There is no way to explain the feeling when you see the huge hits and wince in pain but there are words to say when you notice the little things in action.  A tackler reaching out with his hand and grabbing onto a jersey naturally and getting drug an extra few yards before the ball carrier was stopped meant more to me than the quarterback falling like a bag of potatoes after being slammed in the head one too many times.

Where the true Backbreaker power lies is in its ability to design your own logos and teams.  While there is nothing there that would be trademark infringing to the NFL, the ability to get into depth with your logos based on the shapes and letters they have available is amazing and given the time, I could have easily spent hours on just designing teams more than anything else.  The ability to customize the players on your team is there as well but to my knowledge I didn't really go testing it out too much on the creation end), there are no steps in place to stop you from having supermen at every position.  That is something that can be exploited, which is sort of sad.

Sounds are limited to the crowd, the noises on the field and the bone jarring hits that you can hear.  If you look closely at the players faces, you can see that it looks like they have mics over their mouths but since there is nothing in the GAME that tells you this officially, it is probably just a reason to explain why you can hear every call.  I do have to say though, it is STILL a blessing to not have play-by-play commentary since there is always a good chance that you will hear the same line at least three times in a game.  I can always use my imagination; it hasn't dried up just quite yet, thank you.

Overall
While this game has its moments, it is certainly not without its flaws.  The sad part is that the flaws are the only thing that most people are going to look at while comparing it to the monolith that is EA Sports.  I do not see a long future for this series, though I will say that I still stand by the statement I had in the demo review, you will see something taken from this game and put into the Madden series, I promise that.  The ability to make a football game seem like a football game is hard to do when you are sluggish and slothful.  At least 505 Games won't sell your gaming trends to your opponents before you play them online...

I would recommend this game to the hardcore football gamer and maybe a casual player in a party style set up.  Others are not going to get the value of the game for the game itself but will see the future in gaming with this game.  Euphoria is next step, mark my words!
 

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Quick Tip by . June 03, 2010
posted in The Gaming Hub
Do yourself a favor and get used to the mechanics with the tutorial... You will unlock a team while doing so!
About the reviewer
Leif Vignirsson ()
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Wiki

Backbreaker is an American football video game, developed by British technology developer NaturalMotion, and released on 1 June 2010 in North America and on 25 June 2010 in Europe. One of its highlights is the use of Euphoria, a game animation engine that determines animations dynamically rather than depending on canned animations. Backbreaker does not use teams from the National Football League (NFL) because Electronic Arts has an exclusive license to produce NFL games in its Madden series. The game relies on an extensive logo editor and team builder that was called "one of its silver linings". NaturalMotion announced Backbreaker in August 2007, with a targeted release date of late 2008. The game ended up being delayed until mid-2010.Backbreaker received mixed reviews. While it was praised for the Euphoria animation system, realistic physical gameplay, and the logo editor, it was also criticized for its weak online play, poor passing game, and lack of depth in single-player modes. After the reviews, the passing game was adjusted by the greathouse patch. The Xbox 360 version of the game received an overall rating of 54% from review aggregator Metacritic, while the PlayStation 3 version received a 58%. The iPhone and Android version was given a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars by Touch Arcade. A patch released on August 6, 2010, alleviated many of the issues critics had with the game upon release and included upgrades such as: improved AI, new play books and an enhanced ...
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Details

ESRB: E
Number of Players: 2
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: NaturalMotion
Console: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Sports Action
Release Date: 6/1/10
Price: $49.99
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