Backbreaker is About to Become a Whole New Game


I haven’t had a chance to fully review it, but Backbreaker, the new anti-Madden football game from NaturalMotion and 505 Games, may just be my favorite football video game of all-time. The NFL 2K games have an edge because of the NFL license, but in terms of gameplay I’ve never played a football game with the intensity and realism Backbreaker offers, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

On the negative side, Backbreaker has a steep learning curve and plays so differently from traditional simulation football games that it’s certainly not for everyone. Unfortunately, it also has numerous holes in its game, from shaky passing mechanics that make it impossible to complete passes with any consistency and a crummy, one-camera-view replay system down to fundamental rule and penalty inaccuracies.

These flaws aggravated the hell out of me at first too, but after a handful of games I became so smitten with the overall look and feel of the game that I was able to look past these shortcomings and ultimately learn to appreciate the game for what it truly is: a near-future, non-NFL football game with a style of play and presentation that takes the stale state of gridiron gameplay that’s existed since EA commandeered the NFL license and reinvigorates it with innovative new ideas and a sense of on-the-field immersion no other game has ever been able to pull off before.

Having said all that, games shouldn’t have to force you to look past and/or cope with serious flaws to be able to enjoy them, so the game deserves the harsh criticism it has received. And as much as I personally like it, there’s no way I could recommend the game as anything more than a curious rental — it’s a great buy if you know exactly what you are getting, but for most average gamers it simply won’t fly.

There is good news out of all of this though. Since its release back in early June, NaturalMotion has been listening to all the feedback/criticism from fans and reviewers and quietly working away on an update to completely overhaul the game. Soon, all that hard work will come to fruition with the release of a patch promising to plug up the game’s many gaping holes.

Codenamed Greathouse, the upcoming Backbreaker update will include the following enhancements:

• Brand new replay system with the addition of seven fully functional cameras, including free flight mode and a cinematic ‘ball-lock’ option.
• More than 100 new plays added, including an additional nine formations.
• Improved Quarterback camera view and passing game.
• A user-catch system, giving the player a much greater level of control over the on-field action.
• Interception control, the user is now given full control over interception attempts when controlling a defensive player.
• Comprehensive review of the penalty rulings following an analysis of reported errors.

Those are some significant fixes, and if all work out as planned Backbreaker may yet become the revolutionary football game it’s always had the potential to be. The Greathouse update is in final testing now and is scheduled to launch sometime early this month, so we’ll find out how much of a game-changer it really is soon enough.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to rush over to the Backbreaker Facebook page for screenshots of the new replay system.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!