First Backbreaker Dev. Diary Showcases Euphoria

Is 505’s Euphoria Footballer a Hidden Gaming Gem?

February 9, 2010 – There is only one name when it comes to video-game football. Its been well documented how prolific and popular the Madden franchise is, but that isn’t stopping 505 Games and NaturalMotion from trying to carve out their own niche in the market, and just maybe, revolutionize sports games in the process.

Backbreaker is the first sports entry from NaturalMotion and the company is quickly setting its sights on the Madden behemoth. Because of the exclusive license agreement between the NFL and EA Sports, Backbreaker will not use real teams, players, logos, etc. Instead the unique quality of Backbreaker is its use of the Euphoria physics engine (best known for its use in games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed) which is one of the most advanced physics systems in gaming today. Rather than relying on motion capture or canned animations Euphoria actually calculates all the variables to deliver the most dynamic and realistic football moves and tackles ever seen in a game. The developers have even commented that you’ll never see the same tackle twice.

In anticipation of its Spring 2010 release, the first in what will likely be a series of developer diaries has been released which showcases not only the graphics and physics of the game, but discusses how NaturalMotion wanted to simplify the controls and make a football game that was more accessible and intuitive to players. Check out the developer diary below.

First things first, its impossible not to be impressed by the graphics and the physics at work. Even the most ardent Madden fans will be forced to admit the superiority that Backbreaker has on them here. It’s stunning just how many different tackles take place and when you add in multiple defenders as well as independent physics for the football, its practically jaw dropping. However, we can’t ignore some of the other features of the game mentioned in the diary. First off is the camera angle, a more close up over the shoulder camera that we might think is better served inGears of War than in a football game. It might make throwing from the pocket a little harder, but if there are customizable settings and can be tweaked, it might be a refreshing change from the zoomed out look that the Madden series has had for more than a decade.

The other major feature discussed is the control scheme. Previous articles have stated that throwing the football will involve flicking the control stick (sort of like using the shot stick in EA’s NHL series) which will allow for various throwing intensities. Also hinted at are using the stick for spin moves and jukes. While the words “accessibility” and “streamlined control” can often work out (see Fable II fighting) it’s sometimes sends up warnings to would be gamers that the controls will become over-simplified and dumbed down to the point that the game is neither fun, nor complex in terms of strategy. Here’s to hoping that NaturalMotion can walk that tight-rope.

There are some other concerns. As All-Pro Football 2K8 showed us a few years ago, even with Hall of Fame players, not having the NFL license is a big issue that can affect sales. The spring release, right between March Madness, Spring Training and the playoffs for the NBA/NHL isn’t exactly the optimum time for a football game to be hitting the market. Even if people are hungry for some football action chances are they still are holding onto copies of Madden 2010. All this means that Backbreaker, even if it is a strong game, might fall through the cracks and be otherwise ignored by most gamers.

We’ll keep you posted on more of the developer diaries as they are released.