Facebreaker Review (PS3)
Facebreaker is not the usual game you’d expect EA to release. Their back catalogue is lined with great sport simulators encompassing the sporting worlds of golf, ice hockey, American football and boxing as well as many others. Serious and realistic games designed to satisfy fans of the sports. So what does Facebreaker have to offer? Is it a step in a new direction for EA or simply filling a gap until their next proper boxing sim?
Differing greatly from the highly rated Fight Night series, Facebreaker swaps realistic, sweat-drenched humans for cartoon graphics and over the top characters. Unfortunately these figures of boxing ‘craziness’ are not very endearing and are rarely amusing which makes a perfect reason for someone to want to break their faces. Fortunately the game includes a character creator that can be used to create your own personalised fighting machine. The boxer factory is fully featured and both simple to use but incredibly detailed and deep. The addition of Playstation Eye support means your face can be mapped onto a boxer ready to be pummelled, thankfully this works surprisingly well and with the plentiful face modification options, you can build a rather impressive fighter.
Graphically, the models are solid and move fluidly along with the responsive controls. The faces and bodies bruise and deform impressively and the particle effects on the hits really add a sense of power to your punches. The arenas also have their own distinct personalities ranging from a trailer park complete with a fat man riding round on a three-wheeled trike to an airport hangar with UFO and stealthy escaping alien. With the slow motion action, comic style messages and the overall presentation of the game, it’s clear that EA want players to see this as a more casual fun arcade based experience.
The game itself plays a lot more like your average fighter rather than a boxing sim, with button bashing being the aim of the game. The plus side of this is that often players are evenly matched and can get on with the rapid action and incredibly fast bouts. Although a rock, paper, scissors style approach to blocking and breaking is in effect it does take some time to master. Once perfected, opponents barely get a move in and especially online, these short bouts can end in the blink of an eye. These sometimes-brief sessions make for frustrating gameplay; the easy to pick up, hard to master saying is very appropriate here.
The online mode follows the fighting game trend of pitting one versus one for bragging rights as well as including leagues and most interestingly an option to upload and download other people’s custom fighters. So if you’ve ever wanted to pit Morgan Freeman against The Silver Surfer then you are in luck.
As for lasting appeal, it gets very tiring fighting the same characters with their often-rigid AI all for very little unrewarding rewards. In spite of EA providing a compelling career mode in Fight Night, they seem to feel Facebreaker is better without one. This steals a substantial amount of potential gameplay hours as well as a feeling of progress that many other fighters possess. The main bulk lies in the multiplayer and online modes, which provide what can seem sometimes like a fine line between fun and frustration. That said, the smug faces that inevitably follow friends getting together and pounding each other into the canvas is always entertaining.
Despite the game fitting itself in a unique position between beat em’ up and boxing simulator, there are much higher-class games in either of the genres. This would be great as a network download with a much lighter price tag as compensation for the things it just doesn’t deliver on. This may satisfy the more casual gamer but anyone wanting something deeper will have to venture elsewhere.