This review was originally published 06/21/2010 on Game Observer (now defunct as of 05/13/2014). It has been republished (and updated) here for archival purposes.

Backbreaker

Backbreaker cover art

Less like a game of pro football, and more like a pick-up game with 100 people who don’t know what they’re doing.

I’ve been waiting for Backbreaker for years, following every dev diary, watching every trailer, drooling over every new tidbit of information, all the while, fully expecting that it is going to unseat Madden by revolutionizing the football video game world and force EA to relinquish its NFL-exclusivity deal. And while Backbreaker delivers in terms of its revolutionary new game engine, it fumbles the game of football.

Back-broken gameplay

The Euphoria Engine is the driving force being this game, calculating and rendering every action and every collision on the field using its simulation of physics and human motion. Momentum is well-respected, and the game is full of "you’ll never see that again!" moments that will make your jaw drop. The action is in your face and intense, and when things get exciting, you might find yourself bouncing up and down at the edge of your seat like you did last year when Drew Brees was engineering the Saints’ come-from-behind victory in the Super Bowl. You may even jump up and cheer after breaking a long touchdown run or blindsiding a QB for an 8 yard sack. And you’ll be loving the game.

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Madden NFL 13

I was really impressed with the demo for Madden NFL 13. So impressed that I went ahead and bought the game new. I am now suffering from severe buyer's remorse. The demo looked and felt really good. The AI seemed surprisingly competitive (even at the default, Veteran, difficulty). Heck, even the commentary was good!

Then I bought the actual game and had access to Instant Replays and all the teams, and I realized that this year’s Madden was just the same game as last years', but with a few extra coats of paint and polish.

Table of Contents

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There has been a lot of complaining this past month about the non-union, replacement officials currently being used in the NFL while there is an ongoing labor dispute between the NFL and official's union. These replacement officials are doing an objectively horrible job over the pre-season and first few weeks of the regular season, and this week might have been the worst.

However, the horrible officiating is rapidly becoming the best bargaining chip in favor that the official's union could possibly hope for. The NFL cannot afford to continue to allow these bad calls to continue to happen over the course of the year (and most certainly into the playoffs). This week, the NFL may have to just cave in to all the official's union's demands in order to get the trained, experienced professionals back into the zebra-suits and onto the field.

In Monday night's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, the game came down to a clear blown call by the officials. With no time left on the clock, Seahawks quarterback Russel Wilson threw a hail mary pass into the end zone. It appeared that Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings had intercepted the pass, but Seahawks receiver Golden Tate manages to get a hand or two on the ball as well. The play is ruled a "simultaneous catch", which, by rule is awarded to the offensive player.

Sept. 24, 2012, Green Bay vs. Seattle Simultaneous Hail Mary
One official signals "Touchdown", the other (with the slightly better view) give the signal that usually implies "Interception" and "Touchback". The play is ruled a touchdown on field, is reviewed in the booth, and is upheld.

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I saw on NFL Network earlier today that there is apparently some controversy regarding the following play at the end of the New York Giants / Tampa Bay Buccaneers game on Sunday, September 16th:

After the game, during the handshake, Giants coach Tom Coughlin was apparently irate with Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano regarding this play, shouted at him the whole time, and almost walked away without shaking hands. The folks on NFL Network were even talking about the possibility of the league taking action against the Buccaneers and possibly even changing the rules somehow to prevent this sort of thing.

What a big baby!

The Buccaneers are trying to win the game! That's the whole point of playing. They are trying to force a mistake that will give them an opportunity to get the ball back and score.

I guess the Giants just didn't want another "Miracle at the Meadowlands" to spoil their game.

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