Reviewed: October 10, 2008
Released: September 2, 2008
There are some really fun boxing games out there. Back in the day most people enjoyed Punch-Out in the arcade (and later on Nintendo). That game was basically a button masher with a specific pattern to win. I was just fun. Especially when they threw Mike Tyson in there to beat on.
Now we have several boxing games from EA's realistic Fight Night series to 2K's Don King Prizefighter (plus Rocky and a few others that shouldn't be mentioned). EA seems to have the title in boxing games. Fight Night is pure fun and for a time was used to show off the Xbox 360 graphics. And with a new Fight Night on the way, one might ask, do we really need another boxing game? Apparently EA thinks so, and thus we have Facebreaker... a sort of Boxing Street edition in their “EA Freestyle” line.
When you first start Facebreaker you are greeted with a comic book style menu system. You pick your boxer in similar style to other arcade fighters like Tekken. You start with 7 boxers (5 male, 2 female) with 5 more to unlock or you can use a created or downloaded boxer. You have to play through with every boxer to earn all the unlockables (boxers and clothing).
The goal of Facebreaker is to beat your opponents face in. Literally. You win by breaking his/her face. You do this by pressing the A, and X buttons as quickly as possible. When your build up the hit meter to maximum, you can press the Y button to connect with a big hit Facebreaker, Bonebreaker, or Skybreaker. You can also win by knocking them down 3 times, but most often you'll get a Facebreaker to win. If you knock them out you get to add their face to your trophy wall.
Fight!! is your basic training session. You can set the other boxer to just sit there and take a beating, be offensive or defensive, or just spar. This is the best way to get used to the basic button mashing controls.
Brawl for it All is the fastest way to unlock more boxers. As in PunchOut, you have to figure out the weakness of the other boxer and start swinging. You battle for title belts signifying unlocked items. Prepare to get some sore fingers.
Xbox Live play includes the standard quick and custom matches in ranked and unranked modes. There are also online leagues. You have a trophy case which shows the heads of those you have beaten, and career stats with leaderboards. It's all fairly standard and adds a little bit of fun to Facebreaker, however actually finding other people to play against online is not a regular occurrence.
Couch Royale is a winner-take-all tournament for 2-6 players. You can collect more heads for your trophy room in this mode. It's fun when you have some friends over for some button mashing pugilism, but there are better party games out there.
In the Boxer Factory you can create, upload or download boxers. This is probably one of the few fun points in Facebreaker. You can use the Xbox Live Vision camera to capture your face to put on a boxer, or create a boxer from scratch using various attribute settings. With a Vision camera, you follow a series of steps including snapping a front and side shot of your mug. You then move some target dots to specific areas of your face and the software maps your face on a boxer. It's a great feature, but incredibly it takes even longer than Rainbow Six Vegas to map your face.
A really fun feature is downloading boxers that others have created. There are some hilarious creations online, including Austin Powers, George W, Saddam and many others. Additionally you can upload highlights, look at your trophy room, and generally enjoy a fairly simple boxing game.
It's probably not fair to compare Facebreaker to Fight Night. Facebreaker is basically an arcade game. Fight Night is more of a simulation. But even as an arcade game, Facebreaker just isn't fun. You just press buttons as rapidly as possible. There isn't really a strategy to speak of, and is just a matter of finger endurance to get through the list of cartoon boxers.
The graphics, as with other recent EA “street” games, are exaggerated cartoon characters and environments. The graphics are nice and look as they were intended. They are not meant to be accurate to any real boxers, they are themed cartoons. Unfortunately, the graphics are the only highlight of Facebreaker... and it's not much of a highlight.
EA Sports Trax includes 25 street smart songs. All can be turned off as desired which is a nice (and needed) touch. Songs come from Boys Noize, the Dropkick Murphys, The Hives, Tigarah, Wolfmother and over 20 other bands.
Generally the sound in Facebreaker follows the cartoon boxer theme with introductions and post match taunts. Probably funny for the kids (at least for a couple hours entertainment) but just plain boring for the rest of us.
The only real value for Facebreaker is to show how desperate EA is to get games on the shelf. Facebreaker would have been a fairly decent Xbox Live game. Instead people shelled out $50 for a game that is so pathetically boring, I can't help but wonder if the programmers ever have nightmares about customers knocking on their doors demanding their money back. This isn't a quality disc based game. At best, Facebreaker belongs as a download on Xbox Live. It's hard to believe this game was developed at EA Canada.
Extras include several themes and picture packs available on Xbox Live for a small fee (usually 140-200 Micro$oft points). There are 27 achievements that vary from easy (downloading a boxer) to painful (completing the Brawl for it All). There are also several tutorial videos and promos for Tiger Woods 09 and Madden NFL 09.
Having been a big fan of Punchout when it was in the arcade and later on the Nintendo, I was really looking forward to Facebreaker. I wanted to have a game with the fun of Punchout and the graphics of Fight Night. What we get is a boring cartoon button masher which quite honestly should have come out on Xbox Live instead of a $50 disc. It would have fit right in on Xbox Live. This game would have been much more acceptable as an Xbox Live game for 800 points. Instead people are paying $50 for a very weak and forgettable game heading quickly to the local discount bin.