Posted 4 years ago By - Mitch Dyer
It was surprising when EA Chicago was shut down and the entire team of Fight Night Round 3 was disbanded in favor of an arcade boxer with cartoon aesthetics. While there’s a new Fight Night down the pipes, EA is shining the spotlight on Facebreaker, their latest title in a new line of ‘EA Freestyle’ sports games. It’s a solid brawler that’s easy to get in to, but ultimately it’s only as well-known as it is because of its budget – not its quality.
Let’s put it this way: Facebreaker is a great game, but it isn’t remotely fun playing alone. Grinding through the single player is endlessly frustrating, as impenetrable opponents will undoubtedly block, dodge or counter every other punch thrown their way. You’ll manage to sneak in enough hits to knock ‘em down now and again, but when the final round declares that the next knockdown wins, you might as well throw in the towel. No matter how hard you worked to get 2/3 knockdowns in a round, it probably isn’t good enough for the overpowered, super-human AI that will assuredly beat your ass through the mat within in the dying seconds of a fight.
Hopping online or starting a couch bout is riotous fun, though. Beating on a buddy or an online opponent gives the game a fresh arcade feel (though you’ll still wonder why this replaced the brilliant Fight Night series as EA’s lead brawler this year) that lasts for a decent amount of time. Not having the worry of someone who apparently had a Godly stroke of incredible talent bestowed upon them at birth fails to frustrate, and is therefore enjoyable.
Simply put, Facebreaker isn’t worth playing if you don’t have someone to enjoy it with. Suffer alone, or enjoy together – there’s no in between.
The simple combos involve very few buttons to execute while blocking and dodging require holding the Square (X on Xbox 360), so tossing fists is easy and accessible. Button mashing tends to work fairly well, but someone with a solid blocking stance will be able to read repetitious punches and counter them with bigger combos, haymakers, and eventually Facebreakers when the respective meter fills up. Facebreakers instantly end a bout, as the final blow –a hilarious, but detached cinematic attack – would easily turn the face of Mohammed Ali in to mashed potatoes.
The Facebreakers are difficult to achieve but satisfying to end a fight on, and they add to this fast-paced refresh of the genre.
Graphics and Sound
The visuals in Facebreaker are hardly unique – the PlayStation 2 boxing title Black and Bruised tapped the “cartoon dudes punching each other out” well years ago, and there’s a definite semblance of Team Fortress 2 – but it still works incredibly well. With EA’s high production values, the barrel-chested caricatures are not only modeled spectacularly well but are detailed in such a way that each of them moves and reacts to getting smacked in a unique and fluid manner; even created characters – which expectedly feature the ludicrously deep facial editor seen in most EA Sports titles, as well as PlayStation Eye and Xbox Live Vision support to snap a pic of your mug to put in the game – look like they belong in the exaggerated universe. Comic book-y pop-ups indicate when a counter or dodge has been performed; solid but goofy “thwaps” echo through the ring as your fighter takes a facial beating, and multi-colored potpourri pours from your characters progressively, ahem, black and bruised face – a further indication that the game isn’t taking itself seriously.
This incredible look is ironically delightful, and seeing the different settings and boxers is really a great experience in itself – especially since watching someone else trudge through the Brawl for it All career mode is better than suffering it yourself.
As mentioned, the single player is barely worth playing at all. It’s so mind-numbingly difficult, so controller-dropkickingly frustrating, so absolutely agitating altogether that playing it would only be detrimental to your psyche. The excellent multiplayer is where it’s at if you dig the simplicity of the combat. Fans of Fight Night probably won’t adapt well, however, as the technical aspect of boxing is almost completely missing from Facebreaker.
Facebreaker is a great multiplayer game with stellar visuals and accessible combat. It also features the most unenjoyable career mode available in any sports game ever, as it’s practically impossible to succeed on the easiest difficulty. If you’ve got someone who’s willing to swap sluggin’ with you, give Facebreaker a go. If you plan on doing it solo, just pick up Fight Night Round 3 instead – it won’t make you want to break the face of your console and television like this does.
+ Punching friends is awesome!
+ Facebreaker moves are hysterical!
+ Putting your own face in to the game works really well!
+ Great animation and facial expressions!
- Too-simple combat will make you miss Fight Night...
- ‘Brawl for it All’ career is ridiculously difficult...
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Release Date : 2008/09/03
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : EA Games
Developer : EA Canada
Category : Fighting & Wrestling
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
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8.7 / 10