One of my favorite games on the Nintendo Entertainment System was Punchout an arcade style boxing game that was extremely simple but still provides a great experience even today. Arcade boxing games since the Punchout series have been trying to capture the same sort of magic and many have fallen flat. Today we are checking out a new arcade boxing franchise from EA FaceBreaker which hopes to bring a first class arcade boxing experience to the next generation consoles. Does FaceBreaker have what it takes? Read our full review to find out!
So FaceBreaker if you couldn’t tell already is over the top arcade boxing game. Well in all actuality is more of an arcade fighting game then it is boxing game, but regardless it the fights are held in a ring so we will go with arcade boxing game. Needless to say FaceBreaker is hoping to fill a void that has been left for quite sometime and hopes that it does enough new to really push out a long lasting new intellectual property for EA.
One of the key elements to this game is the character. Not only do you have the option to play as many crazy big, small, fat and skinny fighters but you can also put your face in the game. You have the option of either using your Xbox Live Vision Camera or uploading your picture on EA’s website. Not having a Vision Cam I decided to go with the latter of the options which worked started off a lot better then my recent experience with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 with the same sort of feature. The only downside was that what amounted from my picture was a very unrecognizable version of myself which I then decided not to use anyways. Regardless the idea is still there and playing with yourself in an arcade game is a novel idea and one that I particularly liked.
What ends up happening however in FaceBreaker is a lack of identity. Like I said this is really a fighting game inside a boxing ring, and its a shame that they didn’t stick more to an arcade boxing game. What ends up happening is that you have a game that really lacks any sort of balance. You have characters who have obvious strengths and weaknesses and you just attack the weakness until your blue in the face. The game just never really satisfies the users with any growth or skill but rather just meaningless fighting. Its not deep enough to be a fighting game but its to shallow and off the wall to be an arcade boxing game.
The single player experience is worsened by the computer AI which if you have played the demo on Xbox Live or even on Playstation Network then you already have an idea of this. Really the AI is unbalanced it can hit either the impossibly hard or hit the other end of the spectrum and be far to easy to where you think the computer has fallen asleep at the wheel. Needless to say there is no really deep action in the single player campaign and even if there was chances are it probably wouldn’t overshadow the AI.
What it really comes down to with FaceBreaker is the fact the game really doesn’t have a clear direction. The game isn’t all bad, it has good controls, a good basis of gameplay. The problem is that the package when all pulled in together just doesn’t work the way you would hope it would. Online play can be fun and does help get rid of the AI problems but you are still left with a game that needs to go back to the drawing board and work on becoming less a fighter and more boxing.
The one thing EA has really done well with almost 95% of their games on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 is make beautiful games. Needless to say FaceBreaker continues this high form with a top notching visually appealing game. The arcade boxing style is in full force and although we have seen variations of the stock characters before, they still look fantastic. I didn’t have much luck with the face molding feature but I have seen some great work from fellow gaming enthusiasts so I know it can work quite nicely. Needless to say FaceBreaker may not push your 360 to its limits it still looks gorgeous.
An arcade boxer is my kind of game, heck I still play Fighter Night Round 3 all the time, I am a big fan of boxing games. However FaceBreaker for one doesn’t feel like a boxing game, and two even when you play it as a fighting game it still doesn’t have the lasting appeal. It is the type of game that when you pick it up and start playing you never feel part of the experience. For whatever reason whether its the lack of skill, or the computer AI there is something that truly blocks the path to enjoyment and for me I just never found myself getting excited about playing this game.
Its a shame to say that FaceBreaker really was a disappointment. I really felt for a long time that FaceBreaker may be one of the true surprises of 2008. What ended up happening though was the good ideas worked but a lot of the simple ideas like making a good arcade boxing game unfortunately just didn’t mold together all that well. I will say it one more time and that is that this game more then anything lacked a true identity and without that this game was truly just lost in the ring.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.