When the subject of Backbreaker comes up as a topic of conversation amongst sports gamers, the response is usually a mix of guarded optimism and skepticism. Backbreaker is a simulation-style football game that’s currently under development for traditional consoles. Its huge headline feature is a revolutionary dynamic physics engine that’ll theoretically spell the end of canned animations in football games. While you can gawk at the footage of the game on YouTube, we will not know if the hype is warranted until next year. In the meantime, NaturalMotion has just released a taste of the future in Backbreaker Football for the iPhone.
The first thing you should know is that this isn’t a full-fledged football game. There’s no play calling, managing all three phases of the game, or playing a full four quarter game. Backbreaker Football puts all of its focus onto the exercise of being a ball carrier while dodging defenders on the way to paydirt.
Using your arsenal of jukes and spins, you collect points to go for bronze, silver, or gold helmet medals in each challenge. Stringing together successful moves piles up the points, so juking and jiving complete with a showboating celebration isn’t just encouraged, it’s a requirement to hit the gold levels. With ten waves of progressively-harder engagements packed into each of the game’s five challenges, there’s enough content to last a few hours.
Player by name, profession, and reputation.
Maneuvering your ball carrier is executed by using a combination of the accelerometer and onscreen buttons. Rotating your iPhone left or right changes the direction of your runner while the special moves are a simple tap/hold away. After a few minutes, you won’t even think about the controls. Considering that the game introduces new challenge factors (e.g. extra point zones, smaller field areas, etc.) that would suck with poor mechanics, it’s important that everything feels so solid.
When it comes to looks, Backbreaker Football has no equal on the gridiron. Granted, it’s not pushing the amount of players and AI your standard football game would, but the game is still impressive. Player models are very detailed and animate well. An interesting low and shaky camera is put to use here, making you feel close to the action. The stadium comes off as massive and some cool lens flare effects bring the environment to life. We would have liked to see some additional stadiums and environmental conditions, but as they say, it’s great to want things.
Extras are slim in this package. There’s an endurance mode that’s all about seeing how many waves of defenders you can get through, and it’s paired with a local leaderboard. In addition, Facebook Connect is in effect, allowing you to post milestones as you accomplish them to all your friends.
This is a solid mini-diversion from real football, but this game makes us wish for a full-scale football game from NaturalMotion. Backbreaker Football may keep football fans entertained for a few hours, but we suspect many of them will be going back to beefier titles like Madden NFL 10 or NFL 2010.