FaceBreaker Xbox 360, PS3
All fighting games need a good control scheme. When playing you always hope a bout will be won because of your skill being superior to that of the opponent you face. Irrespective of this, in almost every fighting game there always seems to be one character stronger than the other, and one move that takes off that little bit too much energy. However, in the best of the genre said moves are usually very hard to perform, and more often than not need to be part of some complex combo that is equally hard to learn.
FaceBreaker is the exact opposite of a great fighting game. The fighting scheme on show lacks any form of sense, and is usually extremely infuriating. You’ve got three main attacks button (high punch, low punch, and a throw) and one button for special moves. So, you are literally harming two button over and over for ever single round, with not much else to do. As you can guess, there is not much skill involved in doing this, and as a result each bout is won on pure luck, rather than any sort of judgement.
The game does try to explain that there is more to it than meets the eye, with the very first load screen telling you the game boasts a “trial-and-error” gameplay mechanic, where you must learn how each boxers fights before you beat him. I guess something like this could have worked, and we could now be enjoying the spiritual successor of Mike Tyson Punch-out, but in truth the end result is far from that. Instead, the game is full of cheap moves, which the AI is partially fond of making use of.
There are many times you’ll be unmercifully pounded into a corner, with the AI scoring hit after hit on you until they use their ‘FaceBreaker’ move to win a round. These ‘Breaker’ moves are one of the game’s main selling points, with each character having their own unique ‘FaceBreaker’ they can use after scoring 15 hits without a reply. These moves look great, and are highly OOT in nature, but you’ll usually be on the receiving end of them, which is not much fun.
There are however times you’ll come out on top (maybe score a FaceBreaker on a character you once through unbeatable), and think you are finally getting somewhere. However, you then find that the next opponent will be as annoying as the last, forcing you to have rematch, after rematch until something finally goes your way once again. It’s more or less turns out be a game of Russian Roulette to determine who wins. Although this time you’d be more than happy to shoot yourself in the head to get it over and done with.
The game does have one redeeming point though – the character customisation. In here you can create a huge selection of varied pugilists, making them looks just how you want. There is even a mode that lets you upload a picture using the Xbox Live Vision Camera or the official EA website, and the game will then use the photo to model a character in the unique graphical style of the game. The results are usually rather good too! In fact, the whole graphical style looks top-notch, with every character boasting good looking caricaturist designs. The presentation is up with the best of them as well, with nice looking comic book style menus that are easy to get around. Everything you’d expect from a good game is there, but the lack of competent gameplay makes these high-points more or less meaningless. Even the option to go toe to toe with EA bigwig Peter Moore can do nothing to help the games appeal.
Back in the late ’90s / early ’00s I really used to hate EA. Everything they released seemed to be focused on making as much money as possible, without any thought for the consumer. However, over the past few years I really started to think better of them, with many of their latest offerings been some of the best genres had to offer. Now, I know one game should not ruin all the work they put in, but FaceBreaker comes so, so close. It’s just a really bad game, in places unapologetically bad. If you are at all interested in some cerebral fisticuffs action then just wait until Fight Night Round 4 sometime next year.