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FaceBreaker proves that not only is it not a Ready 2 Rumble knock off, it exceeds its supposed predecessor in just about every conceivable manner.
- Excellent multiplayer experience
- Solid Create-a-Boxer feature
- Easy gameplay mechanics
- Too difficult even on the lowest setting
- Some characters may come off as cheap
Electronic Arts’ inaugural title in the publisher’s Freestyle brand name is none other than FaceBreaker. Developed by the team that brought you Backyard Boxing, FaceBreaker's crowning highlight is an innovative technology called "real-time facial deformation," allowing gamers to deform their opponent’s faces as the match progresses. The question remains, however, does FaceBreaker punch above its weight, or is it ultimately a knock out from start to finish?
FaceBreaker is compiled of several game modes that allow you to test your boxing skills either against your friends, online opponents or the difficult AI. The most common game mode is entitled Fight! This is your standard exhibition mode where two fighters square off to see who is king of the virtual ring. When you first start the game out, you’ll have several boxers available to choose from; however, a selection of the game’s boss characters will remain inaccessible for the time being. As such, in order to unlock the entire cast of ridiculous characters, you’re going to have to box your way through a Brawl for All.
Brawl for All is basically FaceBreaker’s career mode. You’re given the option to choose a boxer and battle your way through a multitude of the game’s combatants, culminating in a boss battle once you reach the end of each belt stage. There are four belts in total, my personal favourite being that of the Arcade Belt. This particular item enables you to unlock Steve, who in my opinion, reminds me of Chris Farley from Beverly Hills Ninja. Steve is equipped with the abilities of a ninja, thus he can drop smoke bombs, which enable him to appear directly in front of you or even behind you.
FaceBreaker excels throughout its multiplayer component, and EA has delivered an excellent mode of play for this aspect entitled Couch Royale. This mode works like King of the Hill, where you and up to five of your friends square off in matches to determine who is king of the couch. In order to become the champion of your buddies, you’re going to have to beat each and every one of them at least once. This will allow you to capture their character’s heads as trophies. If your friends happened to have to created their own boxers, however, you’re going to be able to capture their heads instead.
The create-a-boxer feature in the game is extremely well executed, and players will have a multitude of options when creating the fighter of their choice. You can even utilize the PlayStation Eye accessory in order to put your own face in the game. While this sounds like a fantastic idea, the end result of putting yourself in the title is only mildly successful. After 2-3 attempts, I had the boxer looking around 75% like me. Some may find this percentage adequate and I can’t really disagree; however, I would prefer it to be a tad more accurate. Outside of the eye, you’re given around 20 different sliders to utilize in order to shape your character’s face. Overall the creator tool is very handy which definitely helps improve the game’s replay value.
As for the gameplay itself, it’s simplistic enough for the pick up and play crowd, whilst still being strategically sound for those hardcore gamers that are looking for a challenge. Those of you who perceived that FaceBreaker would amount to nothing more than a ripoff Ready 2 Rumble button masher couldn’t be more mistaken. Though you will find gamers mashing away at their controllers, those who have mastered the strategic values of the title will be victorious nine out of ten times. Each style of attack has its own strengths and weaknesses that go as follows: Strong Attacks > Defense > Light Attacks > Strong Attacks.
When it comes to winning though, the strategic values rapidly become less apparant. String together an 8 punch combo and you can end the fight quickly with a FaceBreaker. While this manoeuvre works as an automatic knockout, you’re also able to utilize three other breakers. The three breakers vary in strengths and range from the Groundbreaker to the Skybreaker. Each one is achieved by building up a combo meter at the bottom left (right available in multiplayer). The fourth level, which is the highest, results in ... (continued on next page)
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