FaceBreaker K.O. Party Review
Posted by Anthony Dickens
Ever wanted to break someone's face? Well now you can!
Legendary names like Hatton and Calzaghe might give you the impression that boxing is a serious sport, however these are not the views of EA Freestyle. So here we are, introducing their new box-em-up descriptively named, FaceBreaker, Knock Out Party for Wii.
You'll instantly realise that this isn't a realistic boxing game, far from it. FaceBreaker is another "zaney" attempt into the comedy boxing sub-genre along the same lines as Punch-Out!! and more recently the Ready 2 Rumble series.
The selection of prize fighters on offer here vary dramatically from the pretty boy "Romeo" all the way to hard chick "Sparrow". Each character does have slightly different special moves, but it doesn't get any deeper than that.
It's fair to say that Wii Sports Boxing set the benchmark for all boxing games on Wii, whether they are serious or comical the basic controls should still be comparable to the accliamed and accomplished launch title.
Something that disappointed us from the start was that EA Freestyle elected to go with a more traditional "side-on" view for the game, it feels more like your playing cartoon Tekken than anything remotely like Wii Sports Boxing.
Sadly FaceBreaker also suffers from a very poorly implemented control system, the theory all sounds fairly logical but it practise it simply doesn't work.
Punching is obviously done with thrusting the Wiimote and/or Nunchuck forward, the jab action combined with the holding of different buttons gives us the different types of punches.
Normal punches are considered as "high punches", holding and punching gives a "low punch", holding and punch triggers a "insult/taunt" punch, such as the "Ball Breaker" whilst holding down the button will block/parry your opponents punches.
After that it gets a little more complicated with FaceBreakers "charging" system, if you tilt back the Wiimote or Nunchuck it will charge a punch, for bigger impact.
Repeated landing of punches will build up your combo meter, once filled you can unleash a combo punch (known as a Haymaker) by holding which will inflict greater damage. If you can build up your combo meter to capacity you can unleash a "Face Breaker" attack which apparently does exactly what it says on the tin.
This all sounds fairly lucid, however it gets complicated when trying to figure out the AI. If you want to block a "high" charged punch from your opponent you must "charge" a "high" "dodge" in order to block/parry it, how do you know if your opponent is going to attack high or low? an on-screen gauge of course, hmm.
The AI is pretty tough, unworkable and unforgiving, or maybe we just don't understand how the controls work, I'm sure EA would have us believe that its our fault. Most of the time your essentially your throwing your arms back and forth whilst holding buttons and seeing what your on-screen character does, there is no sense of control like in the aforementioned Wii Sports Boxing.
The game is split into a few different modes, but basically the gameplay is the same throughout, Arcade mode is obvious, the simple quick play option.
"Brawl For It All" is the solo mode where you fight a number of opponents to win a series of different championship belts, doing so unlocks some new characters, venues and even some alternative costumes.
"Punch-O-Matic" is the first multi-player mode, basically you "punch" the punch-bag and then the cpu randomly picks two players, a venue and a target, such as "first to score 5 Haymaker punches.
"T.K.O" is another multi-player mode that basically sets up a mini knock out tournament with teams, your fighters carry their health between fights until the last team is standing, yada yada.
Finally all your game settings, character biography's and tutorial is hidden away in "Fighters Corner".
FaceBreaker isn't all bad, it has some nice little features such as the visible face deformity during fights, you can see your characters face slowly getting more and more beaten and swollen, classy.
One moment of delight is in the form of a pointless mini game, when your character is knocked down in Arcade mode you'll see a flock of birds on screen and you must shoot them all before you'll regain conciousness, a pointless but nice little touch.
EA have pretty high production values these days and its clear that this game could of been a lot worse in the hands of another publisher, its well presented with well designed menus, a very energetic soundtrack and relatively okay graphics.
Ultimately FaceBreaker is let down by it's confused relationship between control system and AI. It's frustrating and rarely gives the gamer a feeling of control over the action, something that Wii Sports Boxing managed perfectly. Perhaps another victim of the "hmm, let's try and make a Wii version" blue sky thinking we could all do without. Not awful, but still a chump.