Facebreaker Xbox 360
Published by: EA Freestyle
Developed by: EA Freestyle
Release Date: Out Now
Facebreaker may be a boxing game but that's about all it has in common with EA's Fight Night series. Facebreaker doesn't go for realism or allow you to play through a virtual boxing career. In fact the game is purely focused on arcade-style boxing and it's a simplistic take on arcade-boxing at that. Some elements of the game are actually quite good but it's an acquired taste to say the least and it's also a game that's not going to hold much appeal for those who just want to play it as a single-player game.
Creating your boxer is the fun part. You can use the Xbox Live Vision camera to import a picture of yourself or you can download a picture that you've uploaded to the EA servers. You can also download boxers that others have created and uploaded too, if you wish (although you'll need to be a Gold Xbox Live member in order to do this). Otherwise you can simply take one of the unlocked boxer models, duplicate them and edit them as you see fit. Once you've spent time creating your boxer you're going to want to fight with them but there's not a lot you can do in Facebreaker if you're going to play solo.
The modes on offer in the game are Fight, Brawl For It All, Xbox Live and Couch Royale. Single-players will only be able to engage in a one-off fight in the aptly named Fight mode or they can choose to play through the Brawl For It All mode, which allows you to compete for different belts and unlock other boxers in the process. Couch Royale is an offline multiplayer mode for 2-6 players and is classified as a winner-stays-on tournament. If you have enough friends who are willing to play the game with you, it's a mode that you could get some enjoyment from. Xbox Live mode allows you to get away from the AI (which is certainly a good thing as we'll explain later) and in the right company can make for some fun amusement.
The boxing in Facebreaker is fast and furious and at times it feels like a frantic button basher. The controls are kept to a minimum with the X button for a high punch and the A button for a low punch. Used in combination with the RT button (which by itself allows you to block) you can perform high and low parries. Throws and pushes can also be performed by pressing the B button at the appropriate time. Low and high bonebreaker attacks can be carried out and if you manage to fill your Facebreaker meter, the extremely powerful Facebreaker punches can be dished out. The boxers all have a unique fighting style but it's not something you'll get to appreciate due to the pace of the game fights. The game uses a rock-paper-scissors fighting system which is rather simplistic. The fights are all about correctly guessing what your opponent is going to do. I say guessing because they react so fast it's not always possible to judge what they are going to do.
The game is a frustrating experience to be sure. Each fight is won by the first player to achieve three knockdowns. The fights are played out over three rounds but if there isn't a winner, the fight will go to sudden death with the next knockdown winning the fight. As such it's possible to be winning by two knockdowns to zero only for the AI to get the knockdown in sudden death and win the match. I also don't like the way that health is restored to both boxers after a knockdown. Surely the boxer who has just been knocked down shouldn't get to his feet with a full health bar? At times the AI simply appears to be unstoppable (usually in the sudden death round) and it really gives you that throw-the-controller-at-the-wall feeling on such occasions.
The visual style used in Facebreaker is reminiscent of the Ready 2 Rumble boxing games that appeared on the Dreamcast. The boxers all have a caricatured look about them and their animations are all exaggerated and completely over the top. Given the name of the game you'd expect some serious bodily damage to occur during the fights and the boxers certainly get their faces beaten up in style, to the point that they look quite disfigured. From a presentation perspective there's little to complain about aside from the fact that the game isn't subtitled. The tutorials are not subtitled (although controls are explained in text and through the use of pictures). Comments made by the boxers during a fight are not subtitled. The comments they make before and after a fight are also not subtitled. You do have words appear to denote successful and unsuccessful hits during a fight but that's small consolation when so much isn't subtitled. Still the lack of subtitles isn't going to cause any real problems.
Given that EA already have the best boxing game on the Xbox 360 in Fight Night Round 3; it's strange to find they also have the worst one in Facebreaker. As an arcade brawler, it's just too frustrating at times and as a single-game it's as shallow as can be. The most impressive part of the game is the ability to create your own boxer using the Xbox Live Vision camera and being able to download some of the great custom creations from other players around the world. As a multiplayer experience it's not too bad but the rather cheap AI and the way you can suddenly lose fights, that you were winning quite easily, is enough to make most turn away in frustration. Fight Night Round 3 is still the only boxing game you should currently consider owning on the Xbox 360.