|System: X360, PS3, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Canada||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 5, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
The idea behind FaceBreaker is a great one. Take a boxing game and mix it with cartoony visuals, over-the-top characters, and incredibly fast-paced combat. However, in reality this game does little to live up to its potential. While I was pleased and even surprised by some aspects of FaceBreaker, the gameplay completely misses its mark and is sure to disappoint anyone who participates in a few rounds of competition.
The basic setup of the game's fights is fairly straightforward, with every fight broken into three relatively short rounds, requiring either a FaceBreaker or three knockdowns to be victorious. If neither player manages to win by the end of these three rounds, a sudden death round begins. When in sudden death, the first player to score a knockdown is the victor. It can get rather frustrating to have dominated your opponent going into sudden death, just to be defeated by getting knocked down once.
Unlike EA's realistic boxing franchise, the Fight Night series, FaceBreaker takes a much more arcade-inspired approach to the sweet science. Players are given the ability to perform high and low punches, haymakers, and a throw as well as defensive maneuvers like blocking, parrying, and dodging. Dodging can be difficult, requiring you to hold down either the high or low punch button, releasing it when your opponent attempts the same attack for a quick dodge and counter hook. Guessing which attack your opponent is going to unleash is next to impossible, but more on that later. You will likely find yourself relying on the slightly easier to perform parry move, which has you holding the block button and pressing the same attack button as your foe to negate their attack and score a quick counterattack.
Offensively, players will need to vary their attacks to have any chance of being successful. Switching between high and low punches along with an occasional throw, used to force opponents into a corner, helps to keep your foe off balance long enough to power up your best chance of winning most fights. By successfully landing punches on your opponent, your FaceBreaker meter will fill and eventually allow for a devastating FaceBreaker move that will instantly finish your opponent. Unfortunately, filling this meter often proves to be an unrealistic aspiration as it will empty whenever you get hit.
Sadly, far from the elegance that was Fight Night's gameplay, FaceBreaker instead boils down to a button-mashing extravaganza. This is thanks mostly to the game's incredibly fast pace in conjunction with, I swear, the cheapest A.I. you will ever experience. The speed at which you will need to press buttons is quite insane, easily having your hands cramping within a few short rounds. The combat's speed not only takes a toll on your thumbs, but it also makes it incredibly difficult to properly use parries and dodges. Trying to guess which attack your opponent is going to use is next to impossible, especially when being hit by several blows a second. Also, no matter how quickly you manage to mash, the computer always seems five steps ahead. When you do actually manage to parry or dodge an opponent's attack, one would expect to be able to successfully land a counterattack. Unfortunately, most of the time, your opponent will still manage to go counter for counter with you until you give up your will to live and they finally land their punches.