FaceBreaker Review (Xbox360)

Facebreaker is a new fighting game from the EA Canada development team. Unlike other games in its genre, for instance FightNight, Facebreaker has a more cartoony style with over-the-top gameplay and eccentric characters. When it comes to games like these, it wouldn't be that surprising if reviewers were partially influenced by how badly they suck at any particular title. That being said however, this reviewer happens to suck at this particular title.

Even on easy, this game appears to be frustratingly difficult, and at times shows a weird sense of bias towards your AI opponents. Not in terms of anything tangible mind, but simply in gameplay. Many a time has my 'easy' AI opponent managed to get in more hits, block more hits, and even managed to do a finisher where any counter moves were instantly blocked. Technical bug? Probably not. As much as it pains the ego to say this, this game simply has a higher then average difficulty factor It seems. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is very annoying, and it could possibly hamper the enjoyment of the game. Still, you could argue that this game never pretended to be anything but challenging the 'easy' setting is actually called 'fierce'.

Thankfully, the control system is actually pretty easy to get used to, and there's always a helpful control guide that flashes up before every match (Especially handy when you're a reviewer, as for some reason publishers seem to think that you posses the patience to individually work out what each button does Game Manuals FTW). You have a button each for high and low punches, you have the special moves button, and you have a grab. The boxer is controlled by using the left thumbstick, and you pull the right trigger to block. From there, it's simply a matter of timing your punches, making sure you block and counter at the right moment, and try not to lose too badly to the stupidly hard AI.

Like any other fighting game, Facebreaker gives you a selection of characters to start off with, and your aim is to compete in tournaments to unlock the rest. Unfortunately the game is a little thin on the ground in this respect, and you only get to unlock an extra five characters although they don't exactly keep the identity of these a secret. They've also included 6 'celebrity' characters like Peter Moore and Snoop Dogg. These can picked to fight with in the main game, or you can use them as a template for your own slugger in the 'Boxer Factory' mode. This could be written off as simply a token gesture however, as you only really get to decide your looks you have to chose and existing character's skill set.

For single player, there is really only two modes available to you 'Fight' and 'Brawl for All'. The Fight mode does exactly what it says on the tin. You can chose from any of the characters you've created/unlocked so far, and pitch them against anyone of the same criteria. You then choose a difficulty, which includes a practice mode so you can try out each character's skills, and then you just fight. A fight lasts for three rounds, plus a sudden death round if necessary, and you can win by either knocking your opponent down three times, or by getting a Facebreaker. This is the ultimate special move which you can achieve by building up a 'power' bar in the lower left corner of the screen. There's about three or four other special moves per character, all of which occupy their own slot along the power bar. The more you fill it up (by scoring hits, and without getting hit in return) the more powerful a move you can perform right up to the Facebreaker.

EA has at least done good in this regard, as each players set of special moves are unique and fit in with their character's 'style'. The higher level moves can be especially satisfying to pull off, and go a long way to help a person winning a match. Unfortunately, this fact is still overshadowed by the fact that the AI can just be too difficult sometimes , and so you rarely get any of the higher moves in. Naturally, the AI can get specials in like nobodies business and you'll find yourself wincing as your fighter becomes almost routinely on the receiving end of a 'Bonebreaker' or 'Groundbreaker'.

The 'Brawl for All' mode is the closest thing this title gets to a main campaign. Simply put, you pick a character, and then work your way through the different 'belts' to unlock new characters and areas. Again, the Facebreaker lacks a bit of depth in this area, as there aren't many of these to go through. At the end of each section, you fight one of the unlockable characters, and if you win, you get to use them in future matches.

Things at least get a little easier in the multiplayer mode, as your opponents are real people as opposed to the computer. Like what is the new norm with fighting games, you can log onto Xbox live and play against other people one on one using created or set characters. You can even upload and download other people's characters. This can prove interesting at times, but the character creation tool isn't exactly a brainchild of Spore so there's only so many variations you can get, and none as creative as the denizens of that particular game.

You sometimes get the feeling that Facebreaker just doesn't take itself seriously. Whether it's the cheesy intro/outro segments, the specials that almost rub it in that you are being 'specialed', or even the character's themselves this isn't a serious game. This is probably a good thing, as to be honest there's not a lot here that's ground breaking or compelling it's definitely one of those times where you are glad you got a game for free. Overall, the unbalanced difficulty and the lack of depth make this a bit of a under-par title. Might be worth picking up second hand if you like a challenge, and it is extremely satisfying when you do win. Still, it's probably best to save your money for the more 'epic' games that are just over the horizon.

Top Game Moment: Seeing your opponents face smashed into a pulp. Seriously.



By ScythSoulces (SI Core) on Sep 24, 2008
Breake that goofy face. :o)
By sfabobby03 (SI Veteran Newbie) on Sep 24, 2008
When I first saw this review this game looked really lame to me. After reading it though I think I might actually go out and rent this one and give it a try. Might be a lot of fun!
By smnlx (I just got here) on Sep 24, 2008
You should.It's a great and fun game.When I saw the review I said to myself "w.t.f is this?LLLLAAAAMMMEEEE" but it's actually quite good.
By RastaKid (SI Veteran Newbie) on Sep 24, 2008
Really great game.I've played it and it's so much fun.The pictures are pretty bad but the game is really fun to play.
By Kres (SI Elite) on Sep 25, 2008
I expected better score from this game. But just due to promo it had probably. It got poor scores around the net obviously. Wasn't going to try it in the first place anyway. :) Didn't played fighting games in ages.
By loyalknight10 (SI Member) on Sep 25, 2008
It is really a great game. I really love the variety of punches and kicks in the game.Although it doesn't lived up to the expectation much.