If the XFL was still around today, Backbreaker would be its videogame incarnation. It feels as though Natural Motion's first venture into the sports arena is trying to be over the top but isn't sure if it wants to leap head-first into the arcade realm. I think I would have been fine with the blend of arcade and simulation-style gameplay, but it's some of the game's poor design decisions that ultimately tackle it for a loss.
It's clear from the get go that Backbreaker has no intention of trying to be the next Madden. It doesn't feel like Madden, it doesn't look like Madden and it sure as hell doesn't have Madden's coveted NFL license. But not having the NFL license isn't Backbreaker's real problem. Instead, what hurts it is its insistence on deviating so heavily from the formula that has worked so well for past titles. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for switching things up from the norm, but there are tons of other ways to do it besides the methods attempted by Backbreaker.
First of all, these pro football players don't feel the way professional athletes should. Unless you're a defensive or offensive lineman, which are as sluggish as you'd expect, the rest of the players feel pretty much identical. Juking with a wide receiver should feel different from juking with a running back, but it doesn't. What's more, when you do juke with your running back, the moves take a split-second too long to pull off.