FaceBreaker Review (PS3)
EA hoped that Facebreaker would be an easy to play and fun game that would launch the EA Freestyle Brand. EA did great job delivering on the former but completely forgot about the latter.
Facebreaker is fun for the first few fights, but you end up wanting more depth after a short time playing the game. The game traps itself and ends up being too simple for its own good -- there is very little strategy involved in playing the game, minus timing blocks and mashing the crap out of the punch buttons.
Before you play the game, it might seem like Facebreaker is trying to emulate past arcade boxing titles such as Mike Tyson's Punch Out! and Ready 2 Rumble due to the over the top characters and unique abilities each character possesses. Unfortunately, Facebreaker is not in the same league as the previous two titles and really doesn't even challenge them on any level -- it's hard to even make a comparison between them after playing Facebreaker.
In fact, Facebreaker doesn't even use the traditional boxing 10 count, instead going by knockdowns as the way to win the fight. The first boxer to three knockdowns wins each bout, which span a total 3 rounds.
The core elements of Facebreaker suffer from bad decision making made during the iteration phase of the game. The game is much less a boxing game and more an arcade fighting game.
Facebreaker's characters are unique and very stylized.
In any arcade "fighting game" -- or in Facebreaker's case, a fighting game with boxing overtones -- the characters have to be unique and easily discernible from one another.
The characters in Facebreaker are relatively unique from one another, but the game itself locks you in the core fighting style which is high punch, low punch, and your breakers.
The key to each character's uniqueness is based on the speed of their movement around the ring, the speed of their breakers, and the damage on each of their attacks.
While you can adjust for power on punches, the strategy during a fight basically boils down to nothing more than being able to punch opponents faster, while timing blocks just right. I saw absolutely nothing new after about the tenth fight or so (minus a couple of new characters).
Mash button A, B, C...rinse and repeat. That is the core gameplay of Facebreaker.
The basic gameplay consists of mashing buttons for a high punch, a low punch and a "breaker" punch. Also, players can defend themselves with dodges, blocks and parries. The gameplay resembles a rock-paper-scissors type of approach, which is good in theory but bad in execution -- at least in Facebreaker.
EA essentially simplified each character, removing most of the potential individual uniqueness, as well as taking out any longevity in the strategy department during online or multiplayer bouts. Instead, being good at Facebreaker simply means you are just much better on the sticks than your opponent.
This type of simple gameplay worked in arcades in the '80s and early '90s. In the 21st century, this type of gameplay simply means you're spending way too much money on a game that isn't worth the price tag.
With such a simple control scheme, one would think the game delivers in the multiplayer arena, and it does to a certain extent. Facebreaker will not be a game that will be hailed as a multiplayer classic; however, it can realistically be great fun between a group of friends for a few bouts.
A game between friends is fun for at least a little while.
But, the problem with multiplayer is the same as with single player, the game is just boring to play after only a few bouts. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with how the game functions, it's just that the design of the game was off from the beginning.
I played one "Couch Royale" with several friends, which turned out to be a rather fun event. The basic premise behind the Couch Royale is a head to head local console tournament which is something for the college dorms out there. Naturally I won, with the character Ice and his low-low-breaker stun attack. Still, I would venture to say that other than a few random Couch Royales, Facebreaker wouldn't keep its spot in the console for very long.
Unlike other similar games, mastering a character in Facebreaker is relatively simple. Really, this is a fault, since any challenge with the game is eliminated from the get go.
Facebreaker's only real single player mode outside of a quick fight is the "Brawl For It All." This mode is ridiculously simple and underdone, almost to the point of embarrassment when you consider the fact that it's the main single player mode. You basically fight a different character and get unlocks for winning. Other than unlocking characters, there is no reason to play Brawl for It All.
Where are the gameplay modes?
Another cool feature is the create-a-boxer mode which allows you to recreate yourself with the Photoface feature. The photoface feature allows you to upload a picture of your face and the game will recreate the boxers face to yours. Also there are some downloadable characters to be gobbled up as well. In the end, the create-a-boxer is a cool feature but it isn't going to put Facebreaker into the must buy category.
If there is any bright spot in the gameplay modes, it would have to be with the online modes. I've spent some time online with Facebreaker and discovered a few intriguing options.
There are the usual 'get in and fight' options online as well as the ability to setup online tournaments between yourself and other gamers. Considering the narrow scope of how the game can be played, there really isn't that much else you could have asked for in terms of modes, although it would never hurt to have a company that thinks outside of the box a few times.
Really the problem with Facebreaker is that it doesn't offer much and isn't even worth its 'reduced' $50 price tag.
Final Thoughts: The gameplay is fundamentally all right, even though you do feel cheated by how fast the computer can react to your punches sometimes. Really the problem with Facebreaker is that it doesn't offer much and isn't even worth its 'reduced' $50 price tag.
In today's world, spending money on entertainment is becoming more and more a luxury. Thus, the competition is much higher and the stakes much greater. Facebreaker gives you no reason to consider giving it anything but a rent for a weekend of fun with your friends. After the weekend is over, you will gladly return the game and probably never get the itch to play it again. Such is the life of an average game.
In the Ring: Functional but merely all right. There is little depth and I did not feel compelled to play the game more than a few hours.
Graphics: The art style is wonderful and very colorful. The art direction of this title is superb. I only wish the gameplay was as good.
Sound: Very basic, very average. Nothing is particularly bad, but it's not particularly memorable.
Entertainment Value: For a bit, this game is actually fun. As you go through more and more fights, you will find there isn't much there outside of what you first experienced.
Learning Curve: Incredibly short. I was an "expert" after just two fights. There isn't much to learn, you just have to have good hand-eye coordination to be good.
Online: Solid, since there are a good amount of options and you can tell EA knew where the bread and butter was. I'm not so sure there will be that many people to play online though.
Final Score: 5.0 (Average)