First Shot: Backbreaker
After a few hours of play, I'm really not sure what to make of Backbreaker. Prior to its release, the Madden challenger was hyped for its intuitive running game and "euphoria" physics system, which claimed to make every tackle animation unique.
On the plus side, Backbreaker absolutely nailed those two features. Running has never felt so amazing in a video game: cutting, juking, spinning, every elusive move in the book is mapped to the right stick, and power moves are activated when holding the right trigger, allowing you every opportunity to make your opponents look like fools. Even if you do get tackled, it's all good; the tackle animations are awesome as promised.
While the running game got all the hype, the passing game is something you've never seen before. Each play has a "hot" receiver that you will snap to by default. By holding LT, the camera zooms over the QB's shoulder, locking on. Tap the right stick left or right to switch to the next receiver, and let fly by pushing the right stick forward. The experience is similar to actual football, where you can only see what is in your line of sight. While it does take practice to execute efficiently (get ready to throw some picks), ultimately, I ended up using it far more than the run; once you get the hang of it, any pass can turn into a touchdown.
Defense...feels broken. In just two games, I combined for something like 35 sacks and 10 interceptions, simply by putting the safety on the line to overload blitz. Doing so works with alarming regularity. Not good. Not good at all.
One last note, the camera shakes. A lot. Like, a lot a lot; so much so that I had to stop playing due to feeling ill. More on this and more in the full review.