Years ago I was convinced that Punch-Out! was a dead concept. I believed that over-the-top cartoon boxing was never to be revived in this generation. Naturally, I was surprised when I first read about EA Canada's Facebreaker. As the surprise wore off and I read more about the title I started anticipating a joyous experience.
Facebreak (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 [reviewed])
EA Canada’s Facebreaker is an atrocious title that isn’t worth a second of your time. The core of the game is composed of mashing two buttons with little recourse in the way of combinations. The AI in the game is manic at best and the online play does nothing but punctuate the already dreadful experience that is Facebreaker. The only redeemable factor in the game is its visuals. The game has a very unique over-the-top cartoon flair with the bonus of head deformity as you take punches in the face. The animations are fairly flawless as well. The big problem is that the game is devoid of everything past its own style.
There are blocking moves, which are vital against the schizophrenic AI in the game. By holding down the block button and pushing the proper attack button that your opponent is using (it’s a 50/50 chance) you can perform a parry move which will stop your opponents flurry for a sliver of a second so you can start doing the same thing the opponent was doing to you. Dodges are initiated by simply hitting the corresponding attack button the opponent is using as well, so it’s a win-win. Just drill buttons.
It’s annoying, frustrating, and those hand cramps are all for naught. I was actually surprised to see that a game as brutally simple and dreadfully mundane as Facebreaker dared to have an online component. It’s an EA game, so before jumping online you have to sell your soul. After the soul has been given away, you’re free to do a few things. Firstly, you can upload a created character, download characters, and compete in matches online. There’s really no reason to do any of these things considering how terrible Facebreaker is. Online matches service to do nothing more than bring out the frustrations with the game that are readily apparent in single player (with a good bit of lag to boot) and downloading and creating characters can be fun, but what’s the point if the core gameplay is as terrible as it is? That’s the question I had to keep asking myself as I booted up the character creator for the first time and took a nice picture of my face to be scanned onto one of the preset bodies. My face was rendered spectacularly well, but outfitting myself was abysmal. Only a few body types, hair, and boxing trunks are available. In fact, I still wonder why EA Canada decided to busy themselves with a character creation device as opposed to varying the action in the game.