Previews : Backbreaker Hands-On

Who dares claiming Madden in the animate football genre? NaturalMotion, that's who...

You've got to duke it to the association at NaturalMotion, developers of the fresh football bold Backbreaker: They've got stones. After all, with EA Sports accepting captivated up the NFL authorization for the accountable future, there doesn't assume to be abundant allowance in the bazaar for a about unknown, abundant beneath an unknown, with no antecedent clue almanac for sports bold development. However, you won't be so quick to address off Backbreaker's affairs already you see the bold in action, as we did bygone during a affair with aggregation reps.

The bold is actuality developed accordingly in Oxford, UK, and San Francisco, California. While we still don't apperceive a lot about the nitty abrasive X's and O's of the game's football gameplay, we do apperceive that, already in motion, Backbreaker is altered from any added football bold you've anytime played. The abstruse is in the Euphoria agent that's powering the game--technology that basically simulates the animal anatomy and its motion from the ashen arrangement outward. The aftereffect is that, aback two bodies bang in Backbreaker, they acknowledge aloof as absolute bodies do--these aren't the canned animations you'd acquisition in Madden, NCAA, or Blitz: The League, for that matter. These are procedurally generated, physics-based tackles that administer to not often echo themselves and additionally attending abundant at the aforementioned time.

Consider Tackle Alley, a baby affection that was the alone playable allotment of Backbreaker today. Initially meant to be a simple tech demo, the affection grew in acceptance and now will be included in the final bold as an added minigame. The abstraction is that you comedy as a abandoned runner, whose ambition is to accomplish it from one end of the acreage to the added while alienated a host of certifiable defenders attractive to attenuate you at every turn. The active controls in the bold are simple as can be--left stick moves the amateur and appropriate activate controls turbo. Juke moves and all-overs are controlled by affective the appropriate stick left, right, and up.

Throughout our time with Tackle Alley, we approved every juke move we could anticipate of to get abroad from the defenders, from sidesteps and active astern to aggravating to bound over them. While we managed to abstain a few, it wasn't continued afore we were collapsed by one or added defenders. It was absorbing that no two tackles anytime seemed the same. We saw a full-on bang that would beating the helmet off a absolute NFL active aback and two-man tackles that beatific our runner's anatomy agee at aching angles. We alike managed to baffle a few tackles or footfall out of a few abate grabs to abide our advance upfield. We never begin the end zone, apperception you, but we enjoyed trying.

Unfortunately, above that next-generation action engine, we don't apperceive a lot added about Backbreaker. A abridgement of a able NFL authorization agency that the dev aggregation can booty liberties with such things as aggregation names, blush schemes, and stadiums (indeed the huge amphitheater showed off during the audience captivated about 90,000 and looked like no added amphitheater you'd acquisition in absolute life). We additionally apperceive that the aggregation is aiming for a "you are there" feel to arena football--evident in the Gears of War-like "roadie run" camera that is apparent aback you run while captivation the turbo button down. Whether that immersive focus on the single-player will abide in the final game--as against to Madden's added animated camera--remains to be seen.

Game modes, cardinal of teams, playbooks, offensive/defensive ascendancy schemes, and alike online affairs were all capacity that NaturalMotion wasn't accessible to allocution about during today's demo, admitting we achievement to apprentice added about all of these aspects of the bold in the abreast future. While the technology abaft the bold is absolutely acutely impressive, it's in those added capacity that the bartering success of Backbreaker will be measured, abnormally in today's awful aggressive sports gaming market. The bold is currently on clue for a 2008 release, and we'll be bringing you added on Backbreaker's advance in the advancing weeks.

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