While games like Backbreaker and 2KFootball suffer form the lack fo NFL licensing (Good on American Needle for changing this!), they certainly do have their place and charm in the pantheon of football games. Backbreaker presents itself as a more arcade style football game, allowing you to see and do some amazing things with the Euphoria engine and even leaves the Madden Series looking a bit older than it usually does. Will it be worth the price of admission when it is finally released?
Story Introduction and Premise
No real story in the game to speak of; you set up your own leagues, you own teams and your own roster. You are only limited by your imagination so if that is a problem for you, then you will probably not like this demo. There isn't any drama to it like Blitz, there isn't any old timers playing in it like All-Pro, it is just straight football.
Arcade style gaming at its finest. While it takes some time getting used to if you are used to playing some of the other football games, this is a fantastic little pick up and play game that will allow everyone to play it no matter the level of experience (after a little tutorial exploring first, that is needed). While the right joystick controlled moves makes for some frustrating slop (wait, was that hold down the left trigger while making a half circle left and leaning to the right to make that spin move?), it is easier to remember that the quick pass is just a quick press up and the juke is just a quick flick of the stick right or left. Other than that, this is basic football all over.
Graphics and Sound--Production Values
This is where this game shines! Using the Euphoria engine (Grand Theft Auto 4, Star Wars; Force Unleashed), this gives the players natural movements and their bodies the natural momentum that you would expect from a physics laden game. In Madden or other games, you have mostly screen captures of events happening and each person runs as if they are the exact clone of another, the only difference is the general stats spread out to make it "different". Here, you will feel the weight of each character as they chug along or blaze a path down the open field. Their movements are quite natural and it is almost as if you are running behind the player as they make that little juke move to get an extra three yards.
Hoever, the real money is made on the collisions. Instead of relying of rehashed tackling screen captures, the Euphoria engine allows for natural tackles and natural looking collisions. An example was the three man tackle that happened to me while I was playing this game. I wasn't paying attention to the rest of the field while trying to field a punt and was slammed hard. I gasped in pain and thought that if this were a real player, he would be dead or worse... Not able to play football and be a member of society... THE HORROR!
The rest of the presentation is marvelous, from the expansive stadiums to the details on the players faces and bodies (everyone being ripped THROUGH their jerseys is a little annoying but whatever) to the ability to see the targeted man THROUGH the crowd thanks to the glowing highlight system. Since you cannot see from overhead like other games, you can easily lose the ball carrier in a crowd. In order to make this adjustment easier, the game has provided you with a generous yellow glow around the guy holding the ball. Not pure from the football side of things but that isn't what this game is all about.
Sounds are rich and full, giving the feel that you are on a football field. The chatter is at a minimum as the demo itself did not have any canned commentary to speak of. The funny part is, when you don't HAVE the commentary to listen to, you remember why you couldn't stand the commentary from the other games to start off with, they are all rehashed and repeated lines that add little or no value to the game itself.
This isn't a game for everyone, if you are a football fan you might not even like this game but you will see some of the features of this game in your games soon enough. I can see EA making a push to try and acquire the Euphoria engine to try and make Madden interesting again (You have a LONG WAY to go on that, EA) and even other systems and games that didn't feel comfortable with the Euphoria engine and its limits could start using them to make other genre games (Hey, Square-Enix; instead of hallway games, why not make something interesting?).
As a demo goes, not that deep but does the job of whetting the apptite for the release of the game. The tutorial that is included in the game is worth playing alone if you plan on getting this game and you will replay the two quarter length football game included just to see more and more of the engine at work. 4 out of 5 demo points, for whatever demo points are worth.
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