FaceBreaker Review: Something’s Gonna Break Soon

You know them, and you love them, even if you don’t like boxing, arcade boxing games. Titles like “Punch-Out!!,” “Ready to Rumble” bubble very quickly to the top of the list of the greatest boxing games of all time, rising above many, much more advanced and realistic fighting games. It’s a tough genre for games to break into and in comparison to those games “FaceBreaker” does fall short, but that’s because everyone’s expectations were so high, but that doesn’t make it a bad game.

At a very basic level, “FaceBreaker” is a fun game, as long as you’re up for the challenge. It’s definitely not a sim, like the “Fight Night” series, but it’s a lot more challenging than other arcade boxers. Even on easy, it’s going to take a lot of practice just to get past your first opponent. The game forces you to master not only the offensive techniques, but also the much more important defensive techniques - dodging and parring are supremely important in “FaceBreaker” if you want to make it anywhere. Needless to say, when playing against the computer, “FaceBreaker” is brutal unless you know what you’re doing, it’s not a pick up and play game. However, if you’re looking to mangle your best friend’s face, that’s a whole different story.

“FaceBreaker” may be one of the best party games to come out this year if you’re looking for something to play with a bunch of your friends that isn’t a mini-game compilation. It’s casual enough for all your buddies to enjoy, but not so casual that you feel like it’s too dumb or easy to play to the point where you feel like it’s a waste of time. There is even a built in local tournament mode set up for more than just two people so that everyone can be a part of the fun. Besides, it’s boxing, everyone likes to beat the snot out of their friends… virtually at least.

What would an arcade boxer be without a cast of adorable and amusing stereotypes? “FaceBreaker” does a great job of including characters that everyone can associate with. There’s Steve, the nerdy ninja, and Socks the insane asylum patient, and there’s even a character who has to be based on Samuel L. Jackson, because Ice is so damn smooth. Each character has their own special attack that will stun their opponents, but they all appear to be evenly matched in all other categories. Some of the big guys hit harder than the little ladies, but if your fingers are fast enough, you won’t see too much of a noticeable difference in terms of speed and stamina. Maybe that’s asking too much from an arcade boxer?

The controls are basic, yet complex at the same time - high punch, low punch, and haymaker are all where you’d expect them to be on the face keys, but it gets a little complicated when it comes to the blocking, which resides on the on the “R” buttons. Holding the “R” buttons in combinations with the face buttons are what make up your defensive strategy, and that’s where it starts to get a little shaky since the timing of your blocks and parry’s need to be dead on. It all really comes back to the games difficulty, and “FaveBreaker” was a little more forgiving, you might get your face broken a little less.

It’s EA’s own fault that “FaceBreaker” has been doing poorly in the reviews. They’ve ventured into hallowed ground releasing an arcade boxing game. It’s a genre of games that hasn’t had an exceptional number of releases, and the ones that have come out have been, for the most part, amazing games that gamers hold near and dear to their hearts, and that’s dangerous territory to go into with a game that doesn’t live up to its predecessors. In EA’s defense, they don’t gamble too much, and “FaceBreaker” was a gamble. The thing is; if you think back, how many times did you have to play “Punch-Out” before you were able to beat Great Tiger, and then, when you did, how good did it make you feel? So, EA may have tried a little too hard to evoke that nostalgia, but, “FaceBreaker” isn’t a really bad effort at all. Generally, Electronic Arts gets something that works and stick with it, for a very, very long time, but here’s an all new arcade boxing game, from a company that has a great reputation for sports titles, and this one may not live up to it, but it is still worth some time, particularly if you have some friends coming over, as long as you don’t mind getting punched in the face repeatedly. If they had notched down the difficulty then maybe this game would be a must buy, but for now, “FaceBreaker” gets a 45 out of $50.*

*TrueGameHeadz reviews are based on a sliding scale to help you, the gamer, make better purchasing decisions. The review ratings are based on the cost of the game, so, if an Xbox 360 or PS3 game costs $60, they can get a rating of what the game should cost, somewhere in the range of 0-60. So for this review, “FaceBreaker” received a 40 out of $50, meaning the price that seems appropriate is $40, and if it is ever priced $40 it is a definite purchase. In more traditional terms, 40 out of $50 equals 8.0.

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