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Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Genre: Sports
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA

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PS3/X360 Preview - 'Facebreaker'

by Rainier on Jan. 1, 2006 @ 1:30 a.m. PST

Created by the same team that developed the award-winning Fight Night Round 3, FaceBreaker offers irreverent fun, immersive gameplay and eye-popping stylized graphics. In this in-your-face, arcade world full of ego-wielding characters, each boxer comes to life with unique attributes and distinct personal style.

Genre: Sports
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Canada
Release Date: September 5, 2008

Facebreaker is "Treasure Video Games Presents Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots."

I'm going to be using this analogy a lot when I write articles for this game. This is, then, officially the first recorded instance.

If boxing titles are few and far between, then cartoony arcade boxing titles are even more so. The last one we had was Midway's Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Round 2 back on the Dreamcast and PS2. Go back further, and we're going into Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! territory. Yep, back in the old 8-bit days.

Thus, there's plenty of new ground to break in this sub-genre, and Facebreaker is definitely the most freeform game of its type. It adheres to as few boxing rules as possible and actually draws more inspiration from Capcom's combo-heavy Versus games than Fight Night. The characters are iconic and exaggerated, the fighting is fast (with an option to make it go at hyper speed), and the whole game is laugh-out-loud fun.

The game features only two punch attacks, high and low. In addition to this, you have a button for throws and one for "Breaker" punches, which are essentially haymakers that can lead you to into super punches. In addition, you can also block and dash.

If you only spam the attack buttons a whole lot, you're not going to get anywhere. Use all of the buttons and techniques at our disposal, however, and it opens up a surprising amount of timing-based depth. Get enough punches in by way of dodges, parries, or simply maneuvering and speed, and a meter fills up, allowing for more devastating super punches — ones that launch your opponent and can send him flying into the air or crashing to the ground. Get the meter high enough, and you'll be able to perform the Facebreaker, a stylized finishing move unique to each character that takes off a load of health. Players will be able to take advantage of this fighting system in straight-up bouts against friends, or in a single-player Punch-Out!!-style climb up the circuit ranks.

In addition to all this crazed boxing fun, you'll be able to create your own boxer, either by uploading a picture to use as a head, or by modifying an existing boxer to your tastes. Boxers and replays can be uploaded to the console online network of your choice.

Excessive hands-on play at E3 and even more excessive interrogation of developers at that same event proved quite fruitful. The game plays smoothly and fluidly once you learn its nuances, and it features simple and accessible controls. There's a solid rock-paper-scissors functionality in place as to what sorts of attacks beat other attacks. Every action your boxer takes — dodges, high or low punches, and parries — can be countered by some other measure, giving you more super meter in the process. It's a very fast game where you have to outsmart your opponent every half-second.

Facebreaker will be out in roughly a month's time, but the demo just went up on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. You should definitely give it a shot.

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