Reader Review: Backbreaker

Reader Review: Backbreaker

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? FatShady does, as he goes 4th and inches.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

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

Reader Review: Backbreaker

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words – yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


      • Also, according to today’s Remember This?, it makes for a great pilot callsign.

        From sports to gaming to war, apparently “Wildgoose” is a name drenched with versatility!

    • ‘Onk, Onk’ (Me too)

      Still, I went to an American school when I was a kid and I can’t say I was too fond of Gridiron.

      I ended up clotheslining some kid by accident…

  • hahaha awesome closing picture mate – but what gives – how can you have a Kotaku Team without Chuloopa running for you?!

    • Mate, funny you ask, you are the main guy I use on special teams (main crazy dudde running down the field on the kick off team). I also think you are the safety. You are def on the team!

      • Great review and all, you’ve been hanging for it for ages and…blah b;aha yadadadad. Lets get to the important bit!
        Did I make waterboy?!! 😀 Or was my stupid name too hard to remember/spell??? 😀

        • Of course you made the team. Cant remember where i put you. I am just about to post a vid of Chuloopa so will have to find one of you these days. Welcome to the team.

          • Just got it…

            Didn’t mean to imply anything mate. Would you rather i change your position to Tight End?

          • Tight end or wide receiver….jeeze, I just want to be near the loopster 😀

    • Here is the story…

      I have a xbox in one of the rooms in my house and a DVD recorder in the other. I took the xbox and a spare set of cables to the front room and hooked the xbox up to the DVD recorder (and to the TV). My plan was to just play a game and then take screens off the DVD.

      The DVD recorder only displays in 50hz but the game only plays on 60hz only, so I played the game while only seeing half of the screen. The DVD recorded like this also.

      I then took the DVD and played in on the PC so i could his print screen at the right time then used Photoshop to make the collage. All up a coupe of hours work to take the screens, then another couple of hours on the logo and team creation…..

      I find out yesterday that a mate as a PC capture card…..

  • I am really enjoying the game at the moment as well. Although I wish there were not so many interceptions in the game too. If a pass gets tipped or a receiver bobbles it almost 90 percent of the time one of the safteys or corners will come up with it. 3+ interceptions per game for both sides is not realisitic.

      • Video ezy get all major releases on release date. My local gets evrything day 1. I am not a fan of halo but ended up accidentally playing on release date with some mates. I asked when it came out and it was only that morning.

        Pretty happy about that. Good for try b4 u buy.

  • I started playing the demo the other day, How did you overcome the instincts that always wanted to use the controls from Madden? I find that this niggling detail overshadows the game at this stage…

    • I am in a lucky position. I have not played madden for years so the controls were easy for me to adjust to (and they are quite easy when you think about it (spin the stick for a spin rather than the B button)

      I have played the sport also and using that knowledge helps me heaps. For example, if you want to read run or pass, watch the lineman. They are unable to run downfield on a pass and will open up a hole if it is a run. Gives you a split second to get into place but it has helped me.

    • Surprisingly easy to make. only about 35 to 40 layers. The editor is good but I have a lot to learn about it. That was why i didn’t do the entire Kotaku logo and just cheated with the K.

  • Well done on getting your review posted.

    The Kotaku team pics were a nice touch. You should be a shoe-in to win that DVD prize for putting ‘Goose on your team.

    • Sorry mate but you are NOT on the Kotaku team as your name was too long.

      Let me know if you want to me immortalised on the team and more importantly, if you want a game online. While the lag is there it is playable… and if you want a game against the Kotaku team..

      Send FR to ‘FatShady Live’ if you have it on 360.

      I have taken this team online and it is pretty cool.

      • The above was in relation to Old_School_gamer… sorry mate. I did try to put your name on a jersey.

      • Oh, I feel all important now 🙂 You can put my name on a jersey if you like, OldSkool will do just fine.

        I’d love to have a game session with you, but sadly I don’t have Backbreaker. I’ll send you a FR anyway. There’s always room for a fellow Kotakuite on my friends list.

  • Great review!

    I did actually get BackBreaker from JB Hi-Fi (shaking fist at EB) took it home and played it.

    The case is sitting next to ModNation Racers and vying for space on the solitary disc slot on the PS3.

    • I think what is getting confused is that you can’t allocate specific attributes to each player like 76 strength, 56 speed etc etc. To be honest why you would care that much is beyond me.

      When you create a team, select the name and city and the playing style (Passing/running/balanced on offense and blitzing, coverage or balanced on defense) and this does the rest. Your team will be auto created for you. You just go in and change the names based on the positions.

      I actually think the team creation works great. What this also does is also level the playing field online so you can’t just juice up a particular player beyond reality so they are unstoppable… thats my take on it anyway.

      Then obviously, select all of the uniform customisations including the logo and endzone editor and you are set.

  • “Unique Game Moments”
    That you then can’t fully appreciate because of a featureless replay mode. To me, this was their greatest mistake.

    Good review, though. You take a far fairer position than the games press at large. I hope Natural Motion can build from this.

    • You are did get the impression that this issue was being looked at as a patch so will keep you posted.. Nothing confirmed but we are all hoping. If I could get full control over the replays, save them or even take pictures that would be great…

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