EA Sports have a knack for boxing games, with Fight Night Round 3 really raising the bar for any contenders. You would think that for their next boxing title, EA would push the Fight Night series even further forward. It’s quite a surprise that their latest boxing title is nothing like the Fight Night Series, which is a rather risky move, and unfortunately, not one that pays off.
Facebreaker is an over the top, cartoony brawler, obviously aimed at pleasing more casual gamers rather than the die hard boxing fans who appreciate Fight Night. The premise of the game is very simple. The different face buttons perform different punches, and holding the face button will dodge the corresponding punch. You can parry punches by holding the right trigger and pressing the corresponding face button. That’s pretty much your lot. Using these punches, you need to build up a combo bar which gives you access to some ‘breaker’ moves for high damage. If you miss a punch or get hit yourself, the combo breaks. If you manage to build the meter right up you can perform a ‘Face Breaker’, which instantly wins the fight. It’s pretty simple stuff.
The trouble with this system is that it turns into a crazy button masher a few minutes in. In order to land the decent breaker moves you end up simply mashing high and low attacks in the hope that the computer doesn’t dodge an attack. The level of strategy needed is next to nothing. To make matters worse, the computer AI is ridiculous, auto dodging countless attacks and then landing vicious combos with ease. Even on the lower difficulties it can be seriously frustrating trying to win against the computer. Against human players you stand a slightly better chance as both of you will be mashing buttons like crazy.
The game modes included are pretty standard. There is a versus match, online play, and a tournament mode called ‘Brawl for it all’, which consists of taking your fighter through increasingly difficult fights in order to unlock new boxers, arenas, and ultimately win all of the various belts. If you don’t get frustrated when trying to beat the AI in this mode then you are seriously the calmest person alive. The computer constantly manages to dodge just about anything you can throw at it, and then swiftly cleans house with you. The only way I managed to get anywhere in the mode was to use some of the characters with cheap, dirty moves. For example, Ice has a bone breaker move which is really easy to pull off, and which stuns the opponent. Similarly, Steve has the world most annoying throw which can be pulled off by just pressing B, which throws your opponent against the ropes and………you guessed it, stuns them!
Still, not all is bad with the game. In fact there is one feature that is really great, and should definitely be implemented into other games. This feature is EA Sports’ Photo Game Face. This gem of a feature enables you to add your face into the game. Nothing new there though, Rainbow Six Vegas did that a while back. What is new however, is that you can generate a boxer from a picture of any person. This means that you can go online and find a picture of Sylvester Stallone in Rocky, download it to your console and create a boxer from that picture. It really is pretty sweet. It didn’t take me long at all to set up a nice match between Borat and George W. Bush, which ended in a devastating face breaker from Borat. Gripping stuff. The only big drawback of the creation system is that aside from the face and the clothes, there isn’t much else you can change. You can’t seem to edit height and weight much, and you can only select their moves from one of the other fighters move sets, you can’t actually mix and match moves.
The game’s graphics aren’t too shoddy either. Character models are nice and detailed, as are the environments. Everything fits into the cartoony style perfectly. The facial disfiguration is also nice to watch. Think Fight Night Round 3 style disfiguration, but well over the top. Perform a great big uppercut on your opponent and you get to see them fly backwards with their eyes bulging out of their sockets. The various breaker moves look equally impressive for the first time you see them, with crazy over the top punches resulting in some awesome looking facial damage. These breakers can get somewhat repetitive though as you will use them fairly regularly, and there is only one animation per breaker. The audio in the game is also quite a let down, with some boring music and minimal voice acting, which for the most part is poor.
EA advertised the game as a balanced fighter using a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ format. Unfortunately the game isn’t balanced, it’s not much fun to play for anything more than a few minutes at a time, and the computer AI is evil. It may be worth renting this and giving it a try as you really should check out the character creation, and it can be a laugh with some mates. Let’s just hope that the Game Face system is used in a better game somewhere along the line.