Reader Review: Backbreaker

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This review was submitted by FatShady. If you’ve played Backbreaker, or just want to ask Mr Shady more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Backbreaker (XBOX 360)

Backbreaker is a completely new Gridiron (American Football) game that has been developed from the ground up by UK based developer Natural Motion. Known more for their middleware animation technology Euphoria, which has recently been incorporated into titles such as GTAIV and Red Dead Redemption, this is their first attempt at game development.

It makes sense that they would attempt to utilise Euphoria in an American Football game, which is largely collision based and often referred to as full contact chess. (If you are an Aussie, you may also know it as “those wimps in pads!”)


The Hits: The Euphoria slogan is ‘unique game moments’ and that is exactly what this game delivers. Given the specialist skills the developer has built up over the past decade with this technology, it is no wonder why this game was developed in-house: to capitalise on this technology.

Camera Angle: The camera angle is low and almost third-person. This was a very intentional game design element which the entire foundation was built around. I have played American Football in Australia for six years (as a Linebacker if you must know) and this is actually the first football game I have purchased. This angle provides that intensity and fear that comes with playing, rather than watching the sport. You never really know where the next hit is coming from.

The Customisation Tools: If you want NFL teams, make them (just don’t tell the NFL). More importantly, if you want the NSW v QLD rematch from Origin Game 1, you can make that. If you want to see the Swans up against Essendon, feel free to create it.

You Need Skill: There is a learning curve here. It is actually pretty forgiving initially and has heaps (25) of training camp drills to get used to the controls. One thing that I have identified playing this game is that unlike other games, you will be punished for just throwing to someone if they are covered by a defender.


Stooopid Penalties: As has been previously indicated, there are occasional penalties that make you scratch your head, such as frequent roughing the kicker. In some games there are 2-3 of these and others none.

Interceptions: While I like the fact that I don’t have to press a button to intercept the ball (just be in the right place at the right time), there seems to be a few too many sticky hands. You will notice that more often than not if the ball gets to someone, they will catch it and almost never drop the ball.

Lag: Have played numerous online games and while as a host you are lag free, when not expect some lag. I have unfortunately confirmed this with both competitors in Australia and US. I have made contact with one of the Natural Motion developers (Ant Lewis) who advised me that they are aware of the issue and this is being investigated.

While it pains me to say, this game is clearly not for everyone. If you have never thought about owning a gridiron game, I doubt you will enjoy it. (Still, download the demo and play Tackle Alley. This has been a huge iPhone hit with many a person that has never cared for the sport. You may even like it.)

Also, if you were looking for a deep online experience or a lag free one, I would suggest that you wait for a patch.

If you are still reading this, then you should download the demo and have a go. Do not be put off by the reviews. I have never smiled so much in a game from observing the unexpected and have never previously felt the need to take out my camera and film my TV, just because I truly may never see these things again.

Take the game as it is, the first attempt by a small UK firm who is pioneering new technology in a stagnant genre. A genre which has lacked this kind of innovation for this entire generation of consoles. I am happy to be an early adopter and accept all that this brings (good and bad). After playing the game you may find, as I have, that the good outweighs the bad.

I have played all game modes including Tackle Alley (to level 76), both online and offline, and have spent a decent amount of time in the team creation suite (see below).

Reviewed by: FatShady

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