Backbreaker promises no two hits are alike, and delivers on that promise. Every year, we see a new sports game and comment on how "realistic" the animation looks. From this point forward, we'll have to look at Backbreaker first, then see how well the rest of the pack is keeping up. Players bend, twist and contort, finding all manner of positions to fall into after a big hit. Just like watching a real game, its amazing players are able to get up after some hits.
Hits in mind, there are some issues. Tackles look fantastic, but common football motions (basically, any not handled by Natural Motion's euphoria physics engine) look a little sloppy. This may, however, be a side effect of the otherwise amazing animation since these same motions would likely garner high praise in another football game.
Sound is a complete wash. There's no commentary outside a robotic PA announcer and P.O.D.'s "Boom" is used way too often during gameplay. Yeah, I know it's a cool football song, but listening to it after every kickoff has moved it to that special place in my heart reserved only for Limp Bizkit and Smashmouth.