Facebreakers-on with Facebreaker

Filed under: , by: Andy Robinson

Ever since it was announced, I've been looking forward to getting my grubby little hands on Facebreaker from EA's relatively new Freestyle line of games. Reminiscing of my experience with EA's Fight Night series, I knew I'd be in for a treat with the cartoon-theme of Facebreaker. EA released a demo on the Marketplace for the 360, so I downloaded it and gave it a whirl. Let me say that, so far, I'm a little less than impressed.

I'll start with one of the least important factors of a game; the graphics are a little lackluster. Wait. Okay, the graphics are downright Wii-level. I understand that this is a cross-platform title, and given the control scheme, perhaps the target with this game is the casual gamer who has seemingly called the Wii home. For those of us that have a higher graphical standard for our games, please use the processing power that is available.

In the demo, you get your choice of three different characters named Ice, Sparrow and Steve. They also included two custom characters - Peter Moore, EA Sports' big chief, and Kim Kardashian. You also have the option to upload your own ugly mug to easportsworld.com to create your own custom fighter. While the three default characters are subtly politically incorrect, the ring girl is a little much. First of all, she wears an unclosed robe covering just the necessary bits and then you throw in the jab at the intelligence of a ring girl, perpetuating the stereotype. EA, any chance that with your sphere of influence, you could possibly help American society from becoming increasingly ignorant?

I suppose my biggest beef (even bigger than the unnecessary suggestive themes in the game) is the control scheme. Fight Night introduced a very unique control system where the right thumbstick was used to swing your meat mashers and the left thumbstick was used to lean all around while blocking. With Facebreaker, EA decided to make it a little bit more accessible for the casual gamer, as well as household animals. That's right, it's a buttom masher. You get three options for punching - high punch, low punch and the face breaker. True, you get to use a few other controls like block; you can also charge your punches which, if you're charging your low punch and your opponent swings you, then you will dodge their punch so you can unleash hell on their gut. I searched and searched to find a way to revert to some controls ala Fight Night, but to no avail. Just to drive home the button mashing nature of the game, if you get stunned, guess what you get to do. That's right - mash the X, Y, A and B buttons at the same time. AWESOME. In case I am in another horrific bagel slicing accident, I'll still have hopes of success with this game.

The only redeeming quality of this game in my opinion is the ability to create your own fighter using your face. It takes a while to do in the game and isn't exactly automatic - it requires a bit of configuration like setting dots on your eyes and cheek bones - but the results are actually pretty good. With this whole "your way, right away" theme that our society has latched on to over the last seven or eight years, the ability to adorn your favorite video games with your beautiful face appeals to even the most jaded of gamers. Again, however, the demo falls short. Maybe the full game will correct this, but I could only choose the body types of Ice, Sparrow and Steve to put my head on. While it might be nice to be jacked like Ice, jacked like Ice I am not. Sparrow is a woman, so she's out instantly. Though I may once have looked most similar to Steve, I've been working too hard for the last six months to NOT have his physique, so he didn't really apply either. It'd be great if - and I hate to keep going back to Fight Night or nearly any other EA Sports title - we had a little more customization with the body of our fighter as well.

Bottom line: the demo is decent. It can provide some entertaining moments, and perhaps would be alright to box against a friend on the same screen (not enough games offer two player action on the same screen). However, if button-mashing isn't your thing, or you're looking for a slightly more genuine boxing experience, stay away from Facebreaker or it may make you want to break your own face.

*note: Yes, this is all based off of a demo, which misses a lot of key components to the game, like the story mode. However, it has been my experience that gameplay mechanics don't often change from demo to release, so I stand by my commentary!