Review by megaman2005
Break your opponents face with broken controls!
It's been a while since I've reviewed a bad game, mainly because I try to stay away from them as much as possible, but I made an exception this time and decided to try out EA's new boxing game Facebreakers. When I first heard about the game, it sounded like it good be a fun little title, maybe some what like one of my favorite niche games Ready 2 Rumble Boxing on the Dreamcast.
The game is a cartoony presentation on the sport, where the whole point is to pound you opponent anyway you can, trying to mess up their face beyond the point of being recognizable. It's a simple premise, but the addition of allowing photos of your friends used as the boxers allows you to add that one friend you love to hate into the game and smash they face as much as you want. Unfortunatly, despite how cool this idea could have been, EA took the easy way out with this one. Boxers faces only become disfigured after each knockdown, and their faces don't mis-shapen based on the punches you throw, rather every boxer has preset faces, ranging from normal, bruised, injured, and broken. This means that after beating a person just once, that means you'll have seen every possible disfiguring face that boxer has to offer, which is pretty lame, considering that's the whole premise of the game! Sure the graphics are nice and grisp, and the first couple times you see someones face mashed into obscurity, you'll laugh a little bit, but that quickly wears thin, and the crappy controls, and god like AI quickly suck that fun out of the experience.
Unlike a normal boxing game where punch and block and dodge are different buttons, Facebreakers decided that this wasn't necessary and instead punch, and dodge are both handled by the same button, and block and parry is a different button in conjunction with the punch and dodge button. If a big Metal Gear Solid question mark just appeared above your head, you are correct, because that control scheme makes no sense at all.
Punching high is done with the X button, while lower punches are the A button. To dodge high punches you hold down the X button, while dodging low is the A button held down. Theres no such thing as choosing which had to punch with, so punching simply comes down to mashing either high or low, and repeat. This means dodging is way too easy. You simply hold down either high or low, and there you go, you have a 50% chance of dodging an enemies attack. Not only that holding down either button also builds up a hook, so as soon as your opponent makes the mistake of actually trying to punch you, you dodge and land a powerful haymaker, and you go on your assault. It's so easy to dodge in the game, at times me and my opponent would literally dodge a dozen punches back and forth, because the control scheme is simply broken. Dodging a high punch means you are building up a high haymaker, and trying to switch to a low quick punch is boderline impossible, which means when your opponent misses, all he has to do is hold down that same button he tried to punch you with, and he'll dodge your counter punch.
There is a block, but it teeters on the brink of uselessnes. It can only block light punches, although you still take damage when you do this. Any hooks instantly breaks your block, which means that if you decide to block instead of dodge, you're probably going to get beat pretty bad. Also, in case you're wondering, there is no uppercuts in the game. Apparently EA didn't think that particular punch was important.
So what is there to do in the game? Where there's the standard quick play mode, a tournament option, which is pretty cool if you can actually find enough friends to play this mess with you, and then there's the Carreer mode, if you can even call it that. Carreer mode in this game is nothing more than facing each of the games boxers one on one through four different levels, and once you beat them all, you win. There's no training, no seasons, just an arcade style campaign, which makes this mode even more disapointing.
Going back to Ready 2 Rumble boxing, I've always admired this game because they had so many different types of training modes, ranging from weight lifting, heavy bag, speed bag, a tempo game, jump rope and more. This allows to customize the boxers in any way you want. But in Facebreaker, every boxer is supposed to be on equal footing...which couldn't be further from the truth. Every boxer has a way of stunning your opponent, and some boxers stuns are just way too easy to pull off. One boxers stun move is literally just throwing you into a corner. I'm serious, all he has to do is press the B button when close to you, and you're stunned for five seconds.
Matches unfold in three round bouts, where the whole goal is to knock your opponent down three times. Sounds simple enough. You perform combos to build up a four tier meter down in the lower part of the screen. These are your breakers. Four the most part, all it takes is two punches in a row to the same part of the body to raise the meter by one level, where the last tier requires four punches to any part of the body. At any time you can "cash in" these breakers for a super punch, where if it lands the results are devastating. The punches are seperated into bonebreakers, groundbreakers, skybreakers, and the uber facebreaker, a one hit kill that when successful, the user automatically wins the fight...but good luck trying to build it up that far.
You lose all of your breaker meter if you get punch just once. That wouldn't bother me so much, but you also lose your breakers if you don't use them after a short time, a short time being about three seconds. You can keep them if you remain on the offense, but it's hard to do that if your opponent backs away from you, or you're too nervous to attack, knowing that your opponent can counter punch you so easily. This is also a big problem because often times the breakers are the best way to knock your opponent down, because once your opponents meter is in the red zone, it constantly refills at all times. Not at a slow rate either, it's at a blistering pace and fully refills after just a few seconds. This makes knocking your opponent down much harder than it really needs to be, considering that some breakers will knock your opponent to the ground (which doesn't count as a knock down, knock downs only count if you drain your opponents health.) and their meter can refill back to full before they even get up!
As I mentioned the AI jumps between, completly easy, to unforgivably hard in a matter of minutes. One moment your be punching away at your opponents face, thinking you have the fight won, the next your opponent counters, and starts hammering away at you, miracoulsly reading every time you change your block, so there's almost nothing you can do. This is what I hate about sports games, is catch up AI, and Facebreaker has it in spades. The computer will simply read the input of your controls and counter accordingly to give it a fighting chance. If this wasn't enough, if you let the fight go into sudden death, you might as well put the controller down, because you're not going to win. Sudden death happens if neither of you get to the three knock down mark, which really doesn't make any sense. You can be winning two knock downs to none, and it still goes into sudden death, where each of you has full health and the first knock down wins. However, the AI suddenly acquires to power of Zeus, or to a lesser extent the power of Athena, and just brutally tears you to pieces in seconds, and you're left to start the match all over again. Even on the easiest difficulty I couldn't get past the second level. By that time is was yelling at the TV so loudly I thought the neighbors were going to call the police. If I wanted to be frustrated by a game, I'd play Devil May Cry on the hardest difficulty, because at least there I would be having some fun while I get my behind handed to me.
Facebreaker had an interesting premise, batter your opponents face into deformity, but instead it fails at the very basic things that make a game fun, and doesn't even present it's selling point very well. It's more fun, and more satisfying to see the bloody mess you make of an opponents face in Fight Night Round 3 than it is in Facebreaker. On that note, Facebreaker could have benefitted greatly from the Fight Night Round 3 control scheme. Considering both games are made by the same company, it seems strange that they didn't put this in here.
Broken controls, broken gameplay, and one of the most sexist ring girls ever to grace the boxing genre (the camera literally zooms in on the ring girls breasts and butt between rounds) turns Facebreaker into exactly that, broken.
GRAPHICS: 7/10- The cartoony graphics are very well done, and the first time you see and opponents battered face gives you a few giggles. However opponents faces are pre-rendered, meaning you'll see the same bruised faces again and again.
SOUND: 5/10- An okay soundtrack with some good artist like Dropkick Murphys, but the boxers voices and dialogue is just plain annoying, "You hit me harder than I hit the reefer." Oh god.
CONTROL: 2/10- Literally some of the worst boxing mechanics I've ever seen. Would have benefitted from the Fight Night control scheme.
GAMEPLAY: 3/10- Turns and decent idea into garbage in about fifteen minutes.
REPLAY VALUE: Very Low
Product Release: FaceBreaker (US, 09/05/08)
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