Ripten Reviews: Facebreaker

Facebreaker is a new boxing game from EA sports. Normally when I think of an EA sports game, I think of a game where they strive to get a realistic look and feel. I think of Madden and Fight Night and how the designers try to make the environments and characters as real as possible. The moment I looked at the cover of this game, I knew I was going to get something completely different.

Facebreaker feels like it was designed for anyone to start playing right away. Basically, if you can mash a button, you can play this game. The analog sticks are rarely used here as the concept is to inflict as much damage on your opponent as soon as possible. Buttons are just faster. But before you think you can jump right in and start throwing around haymakers (or as the manual calls them ‘”Heybreakers”), you have to build up that ability to wreak havoc.

Each player is given a small meter at the bottom of the screen — each jab and hook helps build up this meter so you can really re-arrange a face or two. There are a few levels to this meter, each one giving increased attack damage. These levels are explained below (in case you were curious):

  • Bonebreaker – Just like it sounds, get to this level and hit your breaker button (The triangle in the PS3 version) and you throw a punch that will break bones. I have seen some noses completely flattened — pretty cool.
  • Groundbreaker and Skybreaker – I put these on the same line because, even though they are two different moves, you can do both at about the same level. One is done buy throwing low punches followed by the breaker button, the other by throwing high punches followed by the breaker button. Each character does something different with these moves. I like the cartoonish look and feel of these smackdowns, and I can already see playing this at a party and people taking crap while they are opening a can.
  • Facebreaker – This is what you strive for. Get to the highest level on the bar (the top will be red) and you can try to land one of these. If you do, the match is over, and you are told to break your opponent’s face. When I first did this, it was pretty violent — a little more violent than I was expecting for a game that had such a cartoony feel. Then I thought about how the game is called Facebreaker, did I not expect a face to get broken?

There are a few ways to win a match, including:

  • Knock your opponent down three times in any time during the three rounds.
  • If you do not knock your opponent down three times in the three rounds, you go to a fourth ‘sudden death’ round where the next knock down will win. What I don’t like about this is that you can have two knockdowns on your opponent while he has none on you, you both make it to the sudden death round. If you get caught off guard (which is easy to do in this game) and get knocked down just that one time, you lose. I can see some real fights break out over this one.
  • Land a Facebreaker. If you are able to land a Facebreaker, that is all she wrote. Game over. You then get to put your opponent’s head on your trophy wall. Yes, you can have a wall filled with heads of your fallen foes. Kinda sick when you think of it, seeing mounted heads like Sara Palin shot them from a helicopter, but I dig it here.

There are also quite a few game modes here. You have a practice mode where you can just jump in there and start some pummeling. You then have ‘Brawl for It All’. This is the mode where you can fight for belts. As you beat opponents, you unlock them as well as new venues. You then have ‘Couch Royale’. This is a 2-6 man tournament you can play locally with friends. You can collect some trophies and it will keep stats so you can brag about it later. You can also collect some heads as you perform Facebreakers on your friends — we just hope you have some good friends.

The online play is merely okay. You can set up a tournament and compete against other boxers, but that’s about it. It will keep this game fresh if you get bored with the single player, which you likely will eventually.

If you want to create your own Boxer, Facebreaker offers what is called ‘The Boxer Factory’. You can customize any boxer and change them in a ton of different ways. You are not limited to anything realistic. I saw someone make the Joker online and even Gollum from the Lord of the Rings. Oh, I saw a Chuck Norris one as well, which was really cool.

If you create a boxer that you want to share, you can upload it to EA’s website and allow other players to download it. EA will require you to create an account with them, just like every other EA game. It’s free, so that should be no big deal. If you want to upload your own photo and throw it on a boxer, you can even do that too.

My favorite feature is the ability to upload highlights. I always liked this feature in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour games, and they have it in Facebreaker now as well. I tried it and it worked just fine — showed up online almost right away.

Overall, I like this game. I did, however, have a few gripes. As mentioned above, I did not like that I slap my opponent around for three rounds only to get knocked down myself just once in Sudden Death and lose. While I do like the button-mashing for the controls, your hands will get tired after a while. I had to stop for a little bit between fights to rest a little. The graphics were just okay at best. On these next-gen consoles, they could have gone much further, but it was a decent first effort.

My final gripe is that if you do not get good at dodging or parries (where you can grab your opponents glove and hit them with your other hand), you can get in trouble in a heartbeat. The game difficulty can shift on you quick, and once you get smacked in the mouth 20 or 30 times, it’s pretty tough to get out of that.

This would be a great party game as it does not take too long to learn — just don’t talk too much smack or you might start a real fight and the cops will be coming, lawsuits will be served, kittens will cry — nothing good can come with it. The lasting appeal of single player, however, just isn’t there.