So you want to keep your control pads intact? How about your telly? Or maybe just your sanity? Here's how kids: give Facebreaker an extremely wide berth.
It's bad enough when you're sat next to a 'friend' who insists on stringing together the same attacks over and over again. Live made this experience worse by pitting you against a faceless adversary; somebody who couldn't just be cuffed around the ear and berated. But Facebreaker takes it one step further by featuring brutal CPU characters who sadistically repeat the same moves until you die.
The age-old excuse, "the computer cheats", has seen us explain away many a loss, but here it's the truth. Facebreaker is the launch title of EA Freestyle, a label devoted to attracting a more casual audience. Why then, despite perfect presentation and an easy-to-understand interface, is the game unbelievably punishing? Even on the easiest difficulty EA Freestyle's target audience will be beaten senseless by the computer, and those who fare better will soon expose the cheap tactics the CPU employs.
Poor balancing is Facebreaker's greatest failure. Even in multiplayer it shines through, as certain characters almost always guarantee a cheap win. Everything boils down to the Facebreaker move (an instant win) which is activated after landing a number of hits without reply. Pick a fighter with a simple stunner, an attack which knocks the opponent easily unconscious, and the Facebreaker move is practically yours.
Perversely, and in spite of its difficulty, Facebreaker can still be completed with just two buttons. Get to grips with the insane timing required to dodge each attack and you can breeze through fight after fight, especially as after blocking your attack the AI's return punch will be at the same height. It's the ultimate kick in the teeth, and the sign of a broken game - it looks and sounds great, but doesn't have the legs to go the distance. Avoid.
Great games require perfect balancing and playtesting. This failed.
- Faultless presentation
- Unbalanced boxers
- Pad-breakingly frustrating