EA Breaks Some Faces?

For as long as I can remember, EA Sports has been a dominating force in the sports video game market. From Madden, to NBA Live, to Fight Night, every sports genre they’ve delved into has been or close to the cream of the crop. Over twenty years, they’ve created a brand that resonates strongly with sports fans and gamers who are one in the same. To capitalize on this strength, they have introduced a new sub-brand entitled Freestyle. This new sub-brand takes a more light hearted approach with an arcade style emphasis on the sports genre. For their first foray, EA Sports Freestyle has provided us with an over top, fast paced boxing game entitled Facebreaker.

The Pros

For all intents and purposes, you will not find a game like it this generation. The game provides a unique blend of fighting game mechanics, stylized graphics, and finishing maneuvers to the arcade boxing theme.

The controls are simple enough to pick up with uncomplicated and open ended combo strings and one button “Facebreaker” finishing maneuvers. When you reach a certain amount of consecutive hits your Facebreaker meter will fill up allowing you to knock your opponent to the canvas and…break their face. Being able to connect with combos and Face breakers can leave you with a certain level of satisfaction.

However the combat system is deceivingly deeper than one would assume. In theory, success is dependant on the timing and speed of your attacks as well as your defensive moves (block, dodge and parry) leading to fun, fast, and challenging 2 player or online matches.

The other selling point of this game is the create-a-boxer mode which allows you to map your face or any other faces via a console camera or scanned pictures uploaded to the EA website. Already pre-loaded with custom made celebrity boxers, you are also able to download other creations and upload boxers you’ve created yourself. Long periods of fun can be had making boxers for everyone you know with their actual faces or just browsing all the other boxers that have been made and uploaded.

The Cons

The difficulty of this game can get incredibly frustrating at times. When up against the computer you almost feel as if you were cheated and that the AI has anticipated you’re every move and resorts to agonizing levels of unavoidable cheapness. This doesn’t bode well for anyone playing this game wanting to attain all the belts in single player. Defeating your computer opponent is a painstaking trial and error process on how to out cheapen the AI.

The character and subsequent fighting styles are also very unbalanced. Each character attacks are generally the same speed however select characters are granted overpowering strength and/or moves that cause their opponents to be stunned leaving them open for an AI pummeling. Though the “Facebreaker” move is there and available when you reach certain level of consecutive hits, against the AI you will never reach the amount of consecutive hits to achieve that level which makes it’s even more angering when your face is broken by the computer.

Because of all these faults, inevitably you will be forced to resort to button mash at certain points in the game that can get very tiring. It also feels somewhat unsophisticated this day and age of video games no matter how much of a casual a gamer you may be.

Here’s the Deal

EA Sports Freestyle has potential in this franchise if they decide to continue with it in the future. The create-a-boxer mode is cool, and the game play is fun and is easy to get into for a couple of minutes of fun here and there with a friend or online. However the game is hampered by nearly impossible AI opponents who come off as cheap more often than not and an unbalanced set of fighters. The compulsory button mashing can also get a little repetitive and boring.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy to pick up game that provide short spurts of fun here and there, then give game a chance. Otherwise I’d wait for Facebreaker 2. 5/10


~ by consolecreatures on September 26, 2008.

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