PS3 Review – Backbreaker

There is no doubt that Madden has been the football king for years. There has been little to no competition since EA Sports secured the NFL License exclusively back in 2004. Developers NaturalMotion have been hard at work developing Backbreaker for quite some time, defiantly aiming to take on the Madden juggernaut. The real question is, do they stand a chance?

Using the revolutionary Euphoria engine, no two tackles are the same – everything within the game is live, which means none of the bone-crunching action is pre-rendered or repeated. Not only does this make it one of the most realistic football titles to date in terms of physics, but it also adds a new level of depth, as players try to test the limits of the engine.

Realism is a major plus in Backbreaker. Running with the ball feels lifelike and better than any other football game on the market. When entering “Aggressive” running mode the crowd quiets with excitement, and the controller vibrates to the players heart beat. It just feels perfect, and creates an tense atmosphere for the gamer to play in. The same goes for when the player is on defense. To come off the edge of the defensive line and completely demolish a quarterback provides an unparalleled level of unsportsmanlike enjoyment. The fact that the game really tries to make you feel what the player is feeling is probably the game’s crowning achievement. The entrances on to the field have the crowds roaring and really do a great job of capturing the emotion that occurs at the beginning of a football game. The environment is second to none.

While the physics of the game are top notch, and literally every tackle is completely different, there are a few hiccups that occur here and there, the majority of which occur while playing online. Ranging from a football flying way up in the air for no apparent reason, to a player recovering a fumble on the ground, who then suddenly appears running along the pitch with no animation of him getting up. While these are by no means back breaking, and occur rarely, they can detract from the experience of the game.

Graphically the game is decent overall, seeing as how it neither really impresses nor disappoints. The movements within the game are very fluid and lifelike overall, minus the few glitches mentioned earlier. If there is one issue to be had with the game it would be the controls. There are times when they work without a hitch, however, more frequently, there are times where they seem completely unresponsive. The glitches within the game are rare, but they are present occasionally.

There are a couple things that players may notice missing while on the field. The game itself is lacking a chain crew, referees, and a commentator. While the in game announcer can be heard while on the field, that’s all there is. Though the reasoning behind the TV pundit being absent is most likely due to the fact that the game seems to want the player to feel as if they are the football player themselves, and they don’t hear the TV announcers, it still can be saddening for those used to Madden’s excited presenters. The lack of chain crews and referees is also inexcusable, with another drawback being that there are no injuries nor fatigue within the game.

From the main menu itself there are a total of eight game modes. These include the Training Camp, Exhibition, Season, Road to Backbreaker, Tackle Alley, Online, and My Teams. Most of which are pretty self explanatory as to what is within the modes.

Training Camp offers tutorials for new comers, and it is definitely recommended seeing as how the controls are completely different from any football game out there. Exhibition is a quick way to get into a game with the computer or a friend. While playing a friend the game will be presented in a split screen mode. Road to Backbreaker allows players to experience creating a team from scratch and put your very own franchise through it’s paces.