Backbreaker – Impressions

I’m not the biggest football fan by any means.  I’m a hockey fan and nothing will change that.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy playing football here and there and having fun with some friends even in video game land.  While a ton of people love the Madden series, I really don’t.  That’s just me, oh well deal with it.  What I did love, and so did many of my friends, was what 2K was doing when they were doing their yearly NFL franchise.  It was awesome, it was different, and it smacked Madden around like a little bitch… at least that’s my feelings.  But as we know, EA got exclusive rights to the NFL brand and so ended 2K’s franchise along with some others as well.

Since then, there really hasn’t been many football games on the market and even 2K’s attempt fell kind of flat.  But here comes Backbreaker, developed by Natural Motion.  A football game that is aimed at bringing a different and fun approach, unfortunately it is being slammed by the critics, but I have a few thoughts from playing the demo which you can find on the Xbox Marketplace or PSN.

My initial thoughts are is that they are on to something.  Something very good.  I had fun with it, plain old fun.  I won’t buy it because I think it lacks some things and needs some work, but if they can continue this then I feel we may have a contender.  No, no one is going to be taking Madden’s grip away anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy alternatives.  What Backbreaker does offer is some of the best damn motion and fluidity I’ve ever seen in a football game.  Its use of the Euphoria engine and PhysX adds such a punch to it that it looks real.  Why more developers don’t utilize this stuff is beyond me.  Anyway, while playing I was taken in a bit by how good the actual graphics looked as well.  Add that with the motion, and we have a damn fine looking football game.

The problems that exist though make it difficult.. at least from the demo.  I think the camera angles need work for sure.  The problem is that you don’t really get to see the whole field when you are controlling a player so it becomes real difficult to know who’s around you or what’s coming.  It’s a bad concept design.  I think that would be my major gripe along with shoddy instant replays when you want to go back and look at that awesome hit you just laid.  The controls are a bit awkward too, but with a bit of time they are manageable.  I think that issue is because you get used to playing a genre a certain way for so long, that different control schemes that kind of don’t make sense become annoying.

But hey, I still had a lot of fun with the demo and I really think that there is a ton of potential here and I hope the folks at Natural Motion push forward in creating a better football experience.  Like I’ve said, I won’t be buying it, but it’s definitely something to check if you’re a football fan and just want something that’s completely different from the yearly Madden offerings.


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