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Backbreaker Preview (PS3)

For five years, some Madden players have annually dished out $60 to play a game they wish was simply NFL 2K5 with improved graphics. Since Electronic Arts obtained the exclusive rights to make an NFL-licensed video game, there have been several attempts by various companies to re-create a football experience sans the NFL label. We have seen new versions of the Blitz franchise as well as a new Tecmo Bowl game, but only one game, All-Pro Football 2K8, has even come close to tapping into what most gamers are looking for.

In August 2007, some were filled with hope when another football game, Backbreaker, came to the forefront. While Backbreaker started off as a nameless tech demo, NaturalMotion -- a middleware development studio that decided to try out game development -- later decided to build an entire game based on the technology used in the initial tech demo.

Now, at the start of 2010, Backbreaker has begun to take shape. While no precise release date has been announced, there have been reports that the game will hit store shelves in spring 2010.

The folks behind Backbreaker are promising that the game will change the way you experience football video games. Using the Euphoria engine (most notably seen in Grand Theft Auto IV), the declaration has been made that no two tackles will be the same -- allowing gamers to avoid all of those pesky canned animations. Another new addition is the third-person camera angle, which will follow the ball handler and show off the game’s superb graphics and animations. Clearly, these design choices have been made to make Backbreaker appealing to both the grizzled football gamers and rookie gamers alike. The goal is for anyone to be able to sit down down and enjoy a game that avoids the repetitiveness, and hopefully the frustration, some people find in something like Madden.


The gameplay in Backbreaker has been discussed quite a bit, though, it has mainly revolved around tackling as the title of the game suggests. As mentioned previously, there are no predetermined tackle or juke animations in the game -- it is all based off of how your player and the AI player are positioned when they collide.

The other previously mentioned design choice, the third-person camera angle, will give you the feeling of actually being on the field with the players. You will see a lot less of the field and the defense, which, for example, might lead to you getting blindsided while sitting in the pocket scanning for a receiver.

In addition, while running with the football there will be two separate "modes" you can be in, Evasive mode and Aggressive mode. While in Evasive mode, your player will be more elusive and agile, but is also more likely to fumble if he gets hit. In Aggressive mode, your player will use his power to knock and bowl over other players and run faster.

One of the most anticipated gameplay aspects in Backbreaker is the camera angle while on defense. You will not be experiencing your typical football game while on defense. Rather than seeing the offense at the bottom of the screen and your defense at the top, the team you are controlling will always be on the bottom. It will be interesting transitioning to an angle such as this after playing games differently for the past decade, but most people should be up for the challenge.


One worry that surrounded Backbreaker for while was whether or not there would be a franchise mode. For a while there was no answer, but now there is -- Backbreaker will indeed have its own franchise mode. All the teams and players will obviously be created by NaturalMotion (32 teams in all), and you will also be able to create your own team as well. The franchise mode will be similar to the one you find in the NFL. You will have a regular season, playoffs, free agency and draft to name a few key components.

Going back to creating a team, you will have a plethora of options -- with everything from your team’s logo and colors to the naming of its roster being customizable. Certainly nobody will create their favorite NFL team with these tools at their disposal.

Other game modes being included are the typical exhibition mode and online mode. The online mode does have some perks, but before I talk about that, there is one more mode that is sure to be a hit: Tackle Alley. This mode is pretty much identical to the Backbreaker iPhone game application. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the iPhone game, in it you go through a series of obstacles while trying to score a touchdown. Each level starts with you running towards the end zone while defenders try to stop you. As you advance through the levels, more defenders are added and some parts of the field are taken away. While this mode does seem like it is destined to get repetitive after a while, it should keep you hooked until you defeat each and every level.

Playing Backbreaker online is similar to other sports games like Madden, but unlike its main competition, it will allow users to play in a co-op mode with up to four players playing one game. Since you will have the ability to play with multiple teammates online, the online action will be kept fresh by concocting new strategies with each new teammate.

With all of this hype surrounding Backbreaker, it better be a good game. Otherwise, another football game released during the Exclusivity Era will be added to the Wall of Shame. However, this time I have a feeling the newcomer is going to come through. Backbreaker is using an engine that was not originally created for sports games, but the game seems to be using the engine to its full advantage. If every play does feel completely different than the last, this game will be exactly what some people have been asking for during the past five years.


Backbreaker Videos
Member Comments
# 1 bonannogiovanni @ 01/11/10 11:32 AM
it's still unclear to me if we will be able to recreate the NFL with the editor or just one team a la APF.....
 
# 2 mm boost @ 01/11/10 11:45 AM
Quote:
One worry that surrounded Backbreaker for while was whether or not there would be a franchise mode. For a while there was no answer, but now there is -- Backbreaker will indeed have its own franchise mode. All the teams and players will obviously be created by NaturalMotion (32 teams in all), and you will also be able to create your own team as well. The franchise mode will be similar to the one you find in the NFL. You will have a regular season, playoffs, free agency and draft to name a few key components.

Going back to creating a team, you will have a plethora of options -- with everything from your team’s logo and colors to the naming of its roster being customizable. Certainly nobody will create their favorite NFL team with these tools at their disposal.
Bravo! This is what I have been waiting to hear!!! Thank goodness!
 
# 3 jdr4693 @ 01/11/10 12:55 PM
Free agency in franchise mode is new info to me... I'm starting to really have high hopes for the depth of franchise mode now.
 
# 4 Cryolemon @ 01/11/10 01:05 PM
The developers have confirmed there are 56 default teams, not 32.
 
# 5 spit_bubble @ 01/11/10 01:47 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonannogiovanni
it's still unclear to me if we will be able to recreate the NFL with the editor or just one team a la APF.....
I've been wondering about this too. I kind of think it's going to be one team, for legal reasons.
 
# 6 schnaidt1 @ 01/11/10 01:53 PM
ok so i have been following backbreaker for over 2 years....and there are a few things they still havent explained that i am very interested in.....1. how in the world are we spose to pass using the right analog stick? what if we have 2 receivers in the same area....that just doesnt seem like it will work. another is presentation........are we going to have commentary!??! or great stat overlays....ppl loved 2k5 cuz of its presentation....so u would think backbreaker would include this..but they havent mentioned it..another is....are we going to have options to change the camera angles!? if they have it as u can only run 3rd person..and do defense only how there camera lets u....this could really cut down on how many ppl buy the game if they dont like it
 
# 7 Eski33 @ 01/11/10 02:49 PM
I will give this game a rent. If it is fun, I will buy....I like the fact that they aren't trying to compete with the Madden franchise as a Spring release date is excellent marketing....
 
# 8 TheWatcher @ 01/11/10 02:58 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by koshi
I've been wondering about this too. I kind of think it's going to be one team, for legal reasons.
legal reasons aren't an issue. I think the legal issue idea sprang up because of what 2K did. But 2K did that because they didn't want customization so deep that people could recreate the NFL. They did it not because of legal issues, but because they didn't want to "upset the NFL" (as one of the Thomas brothers said) and weaken their position to get the NFL license which was due to expire shortly at the time. Little did they know, the NFL and EA were poised to renew, which they did. It was a total loss and the gamers were the ones that got screwed by that decision... but it's ancient history now.

I'd have to believe that the BB team learned from that incredibly boneheaded mistake made by 2K and wouldn't dare repeat it. It's much too absurd to repeat, so I consider it a non-issue at the moment.
 
# 9 bigsmallwood @ 01/11/10 03:10 PM
I am really looking forward to this game!
 
# 10 Cryolemon @ 01/11/10 05:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by koshi
I've been wondering about this too. I kind of think it's going to be one team, for legal reasons.
As TheWatcher explained, it really isn't. If it was an issue how the hell did Forza get away with their logo editor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWatcher
I'd have to believe that the BB team learned from that incredibly boneheaded mistake made by 2K and wouldn't dare repeat it. It's much too absurd to repeat, so I consider it a non-issue at the moment.
You'd hope so.
 
# 11 LingeringRegime @ 01/11/10 05:37 PM
One worry that surrounded Backbreaker for while was whether or not there would be a franchise mode. For a while there was no answer, but now there is -- Backbreaker will indeed have its own franchise mode. All the teams and players will obviously be created by NaturalMotion (32 teams in all), and you will also be able to create your own team as well. The franchise mode will be similar to the one you find in the NFL. You will have a regular season, playoffs, free agency and draft to name a few key components.

YES!!!!!!!!
 
# 12 xylocaine @ 01/11/10 05:52 PM
tackle alley... really? really?
 
# 13 therizing02 @ 01/11/10 06:12 PM
Not sure what I think of the "evasive" and "aggressive" running modes. There's obviously a choice there but shouldn't player ratings determine what type of runner you are?

Who knows? Maybe there is no rating system in BB. Now that would be fresh.
 
# 14 headsigh @ 01/11/10 06:14 PM
I read someplace that they were going with some sort of blend- you'd have the numbers, and the numbers would influence so and so special abilities ala APF, and so on. I'm too much of a loser to find the quote.
 
# 15 polamalu82 @ 01/11/10 06:26 PM
The developers for the game are killing people. It's 4 months from release and we don't really know much more than we did 2 years ago. Someone needs to tell Natural Motion to open the flood gates. lol
 
# 16 allBthere @ 01/11/10 06:39 PM
good write up, except for this imo

"With all of this hype surrounding Backbreaker, it better be a good game. Otherwise, another football game released during the Exclusivity Era will be added to the Wall of Shame"

I've been following the game since it's inception. There is zero hype for this game. There are a handful of poster on their forum, and people here paying attention, but that's it. I don't think people should have their hopes too high, just get/rent the game with an open mind. I'm looking-forward to it and guess that I'll like it, but even with a 9/10 rating, it will not sell a million copies or even 500,000. This is niche and there is zero hype surrounding it.
 
# 17 allBthere @ 01/11/10 07:08 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by bill2451
lol, there has to be some type of rating system... there needs to be underlying numbers to make the game engine work

even "weapons" systems are ratings because they have underlying numbers attached to them... the skills are simply expressed in words rather than numbers
there is, but backbreaker could have gone with none except minimal. Weight, height, and I guess top speed. euphoria could do the rest with that because how force is calculated within physics....you could predict mathematically what would happen in any situation is you have weight, height, speed and angle of approach etc..

But in the interest of making unique players, yeah they'll have ratings - I'm just curious as to how many, and if any of them would potentially impact the game in a negative way.
 
# 18 CreatineKasey @ 01/11/10 07:18 PM
I'll be interested to see the non-ballcarrier interactions. That'll tell me a lot about how deep this game is.
 
# 19 stlstudios189 @ 01/11/10 07:25 PM
i am getting kinda pumped for this game
 
# 20 Triathlete_201 @ 01/11/10 07:43 PM
Cannot wait to try out a new pigskin game. The no predetermined tackles sounds sweet!
 

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