Backbreaker fans, your prayers have been answered. In response to suggestions from fans of the Euphoria-fueled football game, NaturalMotion Games announced that it would be releasing a software update in early August. Entitled “Greathouse,” this addition will offer numerous new features and fixes that will hopefully correct the issues that we discussed in our impressions of the demo and which made it into the full game.

Don’t believe that a software update will make much of a difference in Backbreaker‘s gameplay? Well, NaturalMotion has provided a list of the features that you can expect to see, and be warned…they are surprisingly rather extensive:

Brand new replay camera suite

– Brand new replay system with the addition of seven fully functional cameras, including free flight mode and a cinematic ‘ball-lock’ option…
– Complete replay suite functionality added to Tackle Alley
– Added pause/play to all replay cameras for greater footage control…

Offensive Gameplay Camera

– The Quarterback camera has been pulled back and raised a little. This still keeps the feeling of being down in the action, but provides a slightly wider view and vision over the line
– Added a ‘glance’ button which allows you to instantly check your blind-side

Expanded Playbook

An Extra 59 Offensive plays consisting of these formations:
– Ace — Double Tight End
– Spread — 4 Wide
– Bunch — Bunch right
– Empty — 5 WR!!
– T-form — Old fashioned power football, 3 running backs in the backfield

An Extra 51 Defensive plays have been included consisting of these formations:
– 44 — 4 Defensive linemen, 4 linebackers.
– 46 — Traditional old school defense born of Buddy Ryan
– 33 — Nickel package with 3 defensive linemen and 3 linebackers
– 3 Deep — 7 defensive backs package with 3 deep across the back…

Improved Passing Game & Reduced Interception Frequency

– We’ve improved the O-Line for teams throughout the game. This will give you longer in the pocket to make your reads correctly and go through your progression
– We’ve increased the passing animation speed and increased the minimum distance where a long windup will be required. You will now be able to execute the pass more quickly and hit your target more effectively
– There were too many dropped passes to the flats. We’ve introduced a new pass classification for these simple passes and have ramped up the accuracy of the QB when performing this type of pass
– The accuracy of QBs has been increased across the board
– Defensive Backs now fully respect their visibility cone, only seeing interception opportunities when appropriate. The DBs will continue with the assigned role until the either “see” the need to change, or “hear” the need to change, which is typically about 1-2 seconds after the snap
– We’ve tweaked the amount your QB will lead a receiver when activated
– Moved pump fake to shoulder button to make lob passes easier to execute
– Improved mechanism for Quarterback scanning the field
– Reduced penalty applied for throwing out of focus mode

User Interceptions and User Controlled Catching

– Following community feedback, the user is now given full control over interception attempts when controlling a defensive player. Interception attempts are made by holding the left trigger (focus mode), ie. by actively looking towards the ball as it comes in
– Wide Receiver catching in now also uses this mechanic (i.e. hold left trigger when ball is approaching)
– To signal an incoming ball, the user-controlled WR will be highlighted red when targeted by the QB

QB AI Logic

The QB AI has received a major overhaul. Firstly, the opposition QB will now recognise double coverage better. He is also more likely to throw the ball away rather than risk a throw / take a sack. This results in fewer AI interceptions and sacks. We’ve also reworked the QB receiver selection logic and increased prioritisation of throwing to the primary.

Improved Pocket Protection

Following numerous tweaks, the pocket is more solid. Pocket time now averages around 5 seconds and is all linked to the players’ attributes.

Show and Hide Blitz

New ability to show and hide blitz, pre-snap , by pressing the shoulder button.

Jukes and spins

The animation speed of these has been increased and better linked to a player’s agility attribute.

Improved AI Time Management, Audibles and Play-calling

Sophistication of play selection, audibles and timeouts has been improved. Additionally, the AI is more likely to flip their selected play depending on the situation.

Opposition AI

This has been given an overhaul and you should find your opponent much more of a threat. We’ve also rebalanced Easy, Medium and Hard settings to be more challenging and linked almost all AI decisions/speeds to their attributes. Also, you should be aware that all of the notes relating to AI, animation and behaviours above will apply to your opponent as well. These are game-wide changes.

New RB Focus Mode

When holding the left trigger, the camera will turn upfield when the RB is heading towards the sidelines. This is NOT automatic — you need to press the hold the trigger to manually glance upfield.

Stumble Mechanic

We have added a stumble recovery mechanic for when your player has been knocked off course. To recover from a stumble, just press the Action button as quickly as possible.

Fumbles

– Fumbles are now more likely to happen for non-QB players.
– Passes backwards are now classified as fumbles (respecting QB arm movement direction)
– Catches bobbled / dropped within 2 steps as a result of a tackle are marked as incomplete passes rather than fumbles (player deemed not in control of ball)
Bug Fixes & Other High Priority Issues

Friendly Fire!

Your players occasionally reacted too strongly to friendly physical impact. This happened especially when controlling a RB/FB and clashing with your line. We’ve dialled that back, which should make your running game more effective. Players will still react to the collision but will be less likely to be knocked down

Penalties

Users have been reporting a multitude of penalty issues. We have done a comprehensive review of all penalty complaints and bugs (including the infamous roughing-the-kicker) and have been able to resolve them. We believe you will find this drastically improves the quality of the game.

Online Gameplay

– Reduced online lag slightly
– Built in a new protection system against people hacking the game to create a “super team” and taking it online
– Removed the Cancel Stats Posting option as reported by the forum. People were abusing this to avoid losses showing up in their profile
– Fixed a number of other stat posting related issues

D-Line

– Users playing as part of the D-Line were experiencing a slower-than-desired speed in getting off the mark due to a delay in input control. This has been solved
– Users playing D-line can now bat the ball (pull down on the right-stick)
– Spins, rips and swims are now more effective to help you get that sack

Too much Boom!

Stopped “Boom” playing every kickoff. It now only occurs at the start of each half. Yay!

Team Ratings

Offense, Defensive and Overall ratings for teams have been recalculated and now more accurately reflect the quality of the team if all the best players are on the field.

Play Exploits

Thanks to feedback from the forums we have put tweaks in place to prevent exploits on the following:
– RB spinning through the line
– QB sneak
– FG block
– Punt block
– Nanoblitz

Rule Fixes

– Players must take 2 steps before they gain possession of a caught ball
– Tipped punts and kick-offs that touch receiving team players and subsequently go out the back of the endzone no longer cause safeties (just touchbacks).
– Intentional Grounding penalty now causes a loss of down.
– Scrimmage kicks (punts/field goals) can only be returned by the kicking team if blocked before the line of scrimmage
– Two Minute Warning will only stop the game clock after the play has ended.
– Defensive/Offensive Pass interference rules are turned off when the ball touches a player.
– Pre-snap penalties (Encroachment, Delay of Game, False Start) no longer stop the game clock.
– Touchbacks and Safeties are determined by whoever intentionally touched the ball last, instead of whoever physically touched it last.
– Failed field goals restart at the 20 yard line or the point the ball was kicked from (used to be from the 20 yard line or the previous LoS).
– Improved Pass Interference detection.
– Defensive Holding rule now active during punts.
– Game clock is only stopped by a penalty if it is within the last 2 minutes of the first half, or the last 5 minutes of the second half.
– No longer declaring a pass as incomplete if a player catches it in the air with their feet out of bounds (the feet must be grounded).
– Fumbles on a 4th down, or within the Two Minute Warning, can only be advanced by the Defense or by the player who fumbled the ball.
– Improved the “ball carrier” logic.
– Now awarding a touchback when the punting team catches a non-live ball in the opponent’s endzone
– A ball is only considered blocked/batted if it changes the impetus of the ball.
– Intercepting the ball before your own endzone but being carried into the endzone with momentum will now give a touchback instead of a safety.
– If a QB fumbles a ball while in the motion of throwing (i.e. hands moving forwards), then this is now considered a forward pass.
– Ineligible receiver downfield during a pass down penalty now excludes tight ends.

As you can clearly see, this is a really ambitious update by NaturalMotion and not the type you ordinarily see for console games. If successful, these additions/corrections will go a long way in making Backbreaker a more realistic football experience.  I am especially interested to see whether the new quarterback camera will make the game more accessible to those with less cat-like reflexes. However, my biggest gripe with the game, aside from the penalties, was the passing mechanic, since it would often cause me to inadvertently switch receivers when I attempted to throw a lob pass. In the Backbreaker forums, others voiced similar complaints about the difficulty in throwing a lob pass. This was a rather problematic flaw, and hopefully the Greathouse update will resolve this.

With Madden NFL Football 11‘s release right around the corner, the Greathouse update couldn’t come at a better time. But is it enough for you diehard Madden fans to give Backbreaker a second look? Let us know!

Backbreaker is available for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Source: Backbreaker Forum

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