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FaceBreaker Review

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Developer: EA Canada Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: September 2, 2008 Also On: PS3 and Xbox 360

The NES gave us many classics. Aside from the Legend of Zelda, Kirby, Super Mario Bros. and Metroid, Nintendo also brought us games like Punch-Out! on their 8-bit system. Even though the Wii’s motion sensing seems ideal for a game like Punch-Out, a three dimensional remake has not been attempted to date (Nintendo did, however, announce that development is in the work). Seeing an opening, Electronic Arts tried to capture the zaniness of Punch-Out in their recently released FaceBreaker boxing title for PS3 and Xbox 360.

The first game that comes to mind when playing FaceBreaker is Ready 2 Rumble. It really plays nothing like Punch-Out at all. To even call this a boxing game is a bit disingenuous. There is no skill involved here. While you could easily get away with button mashing against friends, there is a decent amount of strategy (i.e. knowing when to punch, defend, and string together combos) involved. It is still a rather shallow gaming experience. You have a high and low punch, as well as a haymaker and some special FaceBreaker attacks that you can use after you put together enough combos.

The basic idea of FaceBreaker’s single mode is the obligatory boxing tournament against over-the-top characters. These include the likes of an over-weight wanna-be ninja, a voodoo doctor and a semi-retarded acting body builder. Each character has their own unique expressions and attacks. I wasn’t at all impressed with the number of fighters or rings to fight in. Perhaps that is why EA decided they needed to sell this game for $10 less than a normal game this generation.

The main draw of FaceBreaker is the multi-player elements that they have. Not only can you play against your friends at home, but you can also connect with them online on either Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. This can be a decent amount of fun, yet the shallow gameplay makes it nothing more than a glorified version of rock, paper, scissors. The whole trick is knowing when to attack, defend and parry.

To set FaceBreaker apart from other boxing games, EA did exactly what it has done to most of its games these days: allow you to put your face on the character. They call it Photo GameFace and it will allow you to put your mug, a celebrity’s or that of a friend on your boxer. You can then make your way online and play against other people. The Stephen Colbert skit where he fought Nancy Pelosi in Wii Boxing can now be applied to the presidential candidates in FaceBreaker.

All in all, FaceBreaker is a decent enough weekend rental. You can beat it in no time and while the multi-player aspects are interesting at first, the fun fades quickly. The graphics are relatively well done with the Ready 2 Rumble cartoony look, but the voice acting is not all that impressive. There’s not a compelling single-player element, either. With the deluge of holiday releases coming out in the next few months, it’s hard to see why FaceBreaker would be on anyone’s list of games to play or buy. Undoubtedly a sequel is in the works and hopefully they will slow down the gameplay to make it less of a button masher. I understand that they weren’t aiming for Fight Night realism, but the frantic pace does FaceBreaker no justice.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.2
Written by Kyle Review Guide