Alex Di Stasi, Crispy Gamer


In a gaming landscape completely dominated by "Madden," any other football game must be absolutely flawless to gain a foothold on the market. "Backbreaker," developed by Natural Motion Games, is the newest challenger to the throne.

Despite fighting an uphill battle, "Backbreaker" managed to capture attention by introducing an overhauled running game and euphoria physics engine. While NMGames' creation does bring something new to the table, its features don't live up to the hype and its vast array of gameplay issues ruin "Backbreaker" the moment you take the field.

From the moment of purchase, "Backbreaker" gives you the impression that it is going to be an over-the-top, silly game. The box art features a monstrous, tatted up linebacker looking down at you and yelling, presumably seconds after he rocked your weak ass. Every kickoff features the same rock riff ("Boom! Here comes the boom! Ready or not!") no matter what the situation. Even the team names are kind of bizarre; get ready to roll out as the D.C. Lawmakers. HOO-RAH!

Despite its trappings, "Backbreaker" might be the purest football sim out there. Gameplay is completely centered around bringing you to the player's perspective; the camera is placed right over your shoulder. This makes for an intensely realistic experience. In the running game, you must be able to anticipate where holes will open up without the luxury of seeing the entire field. While passing, you will only be able to see one or two receivers at any given tine, forcing you to make defensive reads before the snap and check down options with split second efficiency. Once you have a few games under your belt, you will feel like a seasoned NFL veteran.

Unfortunately, "Backbreaker" fails to properly execute these gameplay features. While I have no problem with the low positioning of the camera, I do take issue with the shaking. Yes, in actual football, your point of view shakes, but in actual football, the camera is your eyes. From the over the shoulder perspective, the shaking often gets in the way of necessary actions (such as locating the ball carrier on defense, even though there is a button for that). The way it plays right now, "Backbreaker" makes it so hard for my eyes to focus that I was often feeling nauseous after only a half hour of play.

The running game really isn't special. In my first shot review of "Backbreaker," I lauded the running game as feeling fresh. However, with more time spent with it, I realized that 'Backbreaker's" running game is not only old hat, but worse off than "Madden's," to boot. "Madden" featured gut reaction run moves (such as jukes) mapped to the right stick, with other moves mapped to the face buttons. This allowed easy access to each move.

"Backbreaker" keeps everything tied to the right stick, forcing you to perform specific motions to execute moves. In the heat of the moment, executing a spin move should just be a flick or a button press, not a pull back and sweep forward. To top it off, perfect execution activates the desired result only half the time, leaving you to be tackled prematurely often. It appears as though Backbreaker wanted to break conventions merely to be different from Madden. Unfortunately, it has negative effect on the quality of play.

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The Saboteur


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