Publisher:Electronic Arts Platform:Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 Release Date: 5th September 2008
I like to prepare quite thoroughly for preview and interviews, if only because there’s nothing more embarrassing than having to stutter through and make up questions on the spot. That’s why, before going to go and do a hands-on preview of Facebreaker, I did a fair bit of research.
Somehow though, I still managed to get it all wrong.
Before going in to the preview event and getting some face time with the development team behind the game I was under the impression that Facebreaker was a boxing game. A boxing game with cartoony graphics and lots of sillyness, sure – but still definitely a boxing game.
Gloves, rings, right hooks and badly masticated ears – that’s what I was expecting from Facebreaker.
Instead though, Facebreaker turned out to be something quite different to what the pictures of boxing glove wielding men would have you believe. There’s kicking, for example. More of a ballbreaker than a facebreaker in that regard I suppose…
Though the game does present itself as something of a boxing game through the fact that most every player is in traditional boxing get-up and the matches themselves take place in boxing rings, this is actually all very misleading and the game is definitely more of an old-school button-mashing brawler.
There are unexplained pyrokinetic effects around people’s fists and feet when they pull off special moves, ridiculous throws and effects that can be used to devastate your opponents and literally break their faces and, instead of the realism of a simulator Facebreaker has a standard health-bar interface.
The question is then; what are the important features of a beat-em-up? Well, the characters firstly, obviously. Without attractive and inventive characters, the likes of Mortal Kombat or Tekken would never of got off the ground – and Facebreaker is no different.
It’s a good thing then that the characters in Facebreaker have obviously been designed with this in mind and the artists have striven to make each one unique in terms of look and feel.
Each of the twelve or so characters in the game, three of which are female and one of which is a monkey, has a wildly different silhouette which makes them instantly recognisable. There’s Ice, the tall American boxer. Steve, the fat wannabe Ninja. Sparrow, the British fighter pirate based on an amalgam of characters like Buffy or Sarah Connor - and each one of them looks engaging and different.
Of course, it would be unfair for the Facebreaker team to accept any praise for the design of it’s characters without first referencing their inspiration and that’s something that EA Canada was very open about, saying that although people claim they’ve ripped off the art style from Team Fortress 2, the reality is that the main inspiration was Pixar.
Thankfully though, if Pixar isn’t your bag and, like us you’re a bit sick of super-sweet robots and animated creatures, then you don’t have to be limited just by the stock catalogue of characters. If you don’t want to see a boxer who just constantly reminds you of Buzz Lightyear or Woody whatever-his-name-is then you can just make your own character from scratch…