Backbreaker - Cheat Happens Game Review
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Backbreaker
XBox 360, Playstation 3

Reviewed on: XBox 360

Developer:
NaturalMotion
Publisher: 505 Games
Rated: "E" for Everyone



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     

This may be hard to fathom for newer gamers, but there was a time when Madden wasn’t the only NFL football game in town, in fact – there were multiple. From the arcade style NFL Blitz to the critically acclaimed ESPN NFL series, there was never a shortage of gridiron gaming to choose from. Then EA bought the NFL license and that all went away.

Enter 505 Game’s Backbreaker.  Sure, it doesn’t have the NFL license, but at least we get some decent, honest to goodness football right? Ehh, not quite. Filled with glitches, sloppy gameplay and laughable miscues, Backbreaker is a mess and even Madden detractors will be pining for the series after playing through this atrocity.

The idea behind Backbreaker is a solid one, take the Madden series, strip away all the flash and excess and give the fans a decent, honest to goodness football title, but in the process they’ve also stripped away almost everything that makes the perennial football title so enjoyable. The biggest complaint? The football just isn’t fun to play, in fact – it’s incredibly frustrating. From the onset, you’ll notice that the game employs a much closer and much lower camera than the Madden series, cause you know – it’s in your face and edgy and stuff. It may not sound like that big of a change but because the camera is so low to the ground you’ll frequently get lost in the shuffle on the field and lose all sight of your receivers, causing you to have to choose between wild passes that will more than likely end up getting picked off or getting you sacked.

"...an overly complicated scheme..."

 
   

That’s not the only problem with Backbreaker’s passing game.  You cycle through your targets by holding the left trigger and flicking the right stick. It’s an overly complicated scheme and you’re not often going to have all the time you need to go through your entire progression before meeting the business end of a linebacker.  What’s worse is the fact that if you throw a ball before a receiver completes his intended route, it will cause that receiver to break away, and not in the helpful “going to get the ball” sort of way, no it’s more of the “what the hell just happened” kind of way.

Backbreaker’s running game isn’t quite as bad as the passing game, it’s just more of a crapshoot as to whether or not you’re going to be successful or not. When running the ball, I never got the feeling that there was any skill involved, and the entire mechanic was a mixture of timing and luck.  Seriously, there were times I would run directly into a tackler’s grasps, only to run right through him – literally.  When I did get tackled, it led to what was definitely the game’s best aspect; rather than using the same old canned animations for tackles like Madden does, it uses a completely free animation system, meaning every tackle looks different, and often quite spectacular.

Unfortunately, not much else in the game looks spectacular or even comes close. One of my favorite things about the newer Madden games is the fact that players actually look like themselves (well, most do anyways), not so in Backbreaker. In fact, you can’t even see any of the player’s faces because they all wear visors. Seriously – even at night, they all wear sun visors on their helmets.  Each player looks the same, right down to the plastic looking jerseys. I couldn’t help but feel like the developers got a bit lazy midway through production.

"...call penalties on you that make absolutely no sense."

 
   

The folks at 505 Games are based over in the UK, their football is soccer, so yeah – there’s some discrepancies here, some major ones. It’s as if someone handed an NFL rulebook to the development team and they just looked for keywords. The referees are going to call penalties on you that make absolutely no sense (one sticks out where I was called for throwing an illegal forward pass from the middle of the field…ten yards behind the line of scrimmage). It’s quite frustrating to formulate a comeback in the fourth quarter, only to have it squashed by a series of random and wrong calls.

One of the biggest reasons people are likely to pass over Backbreaker on the shelves is the fact that it doesn’t have an NFL license, it’s really not an issue though as Backbreaker features a pretty impressive team creation suite in which you can create them (and now we’re getting sued). But, let’s be honest – you’re going to do just what I did, draw a penis as your logo and give your team a vulgar name. The creation system is surprisingly deep, but with such a lackluster main game experience, there’s just really not much of a reason to use it.

Backbreaker started out as a downloadable title to showcase the new tackling animations the developers created. Somewhere down the line, someone decided to make a full retail game out of it – they should have reconsidered. Not only is it a fundamentally flawed game, but it manages to do what no sports title should do – get the rules wrong.  It’s not a good video game, nor is it a good football experience. Seriously, wait a few months for the new Madden

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Unlockables, Trophies/Achievements Lists

There are a few cheats to unlock more modes and items in Backbreaker, but much like the creation mode – there’s not much incentive to check them out when the core gameplay is so sloppy. I don’t want extra modes, I want a decent game. How about a cheat to level out the turd AI? What about an even passing game?

Or I know, how about a cheat to automatically return this game to store after you realize what a mistake it truly was!

 

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