Facebreaker Demo Impressions and Videos

Posted August 2nd, 2008 at 6:08 pm

With the arrival of the Facebreaker demo comes the first opportunity to try out the fast paced action title that EA is banking on to be a hit. While the game looked to have potential as a throwback to the arcade boxing games of the past there really was no way to judge whether the game would truly until being able to play first hand. Make no mistake about it though this is more a fighting game than a boxing game and is not meant to be a replacement for Fight Night as Round 4 will be out next year.

Continue on for my thoughts on the demo as well as a handful of videos including two as “The Rock” who I created through Photo Face.

After spending a great deal of time creating boxers with Photo Face I got into actually playing. Even on “Easy” at first I was getting my ass handed to me. I actually started considering that maybe I just didn’t have the reaction time to do well. I mean, this is a game designed specifically to be approachable and have wide appeal, yet here I was struggling on the easiest level.

As I played more I quickly started noticing drastic improvement. Since it is so heavily predicated on reaction time having a natural feel for the controls and being able to do things without thinking about them is key. Soon after I started realizing the strategy involved. While the game can be played as a button masher that method isn’t going to have very much success. It basically lays out as rock-paper-scissors in whether an offensive or defensive attempt will win out. It wasn’t long before I was thinking ahead to what my opponent might do next in order to decide on the action I took.

Of the three characters included in the demo I did the best playing as Ice and had the toughest time facing Sparrow. Outside of Steve’s vanishing power I found him to be the weakest as his motions were slower and more deliberate but I’m sure he has his advantages as well.

As expected the Photo Face feature for character creation and the uploading to EASW (which will allow for downloading of the boxers with the full game) is extremely enjoyable to play around with. As seen with my first attempts there is a lot of potential for creating unique boxers to use. Given that the game only includes 12 characters (one of which is a monkey) the developers clearly expect this to extend the value of the game.

Facebreaker is meant to be lighthearted fun. Whether or not someone thinks it delivers that is going to vary on an individual basis. I certainly can’t make a blanket statement that it is or isn’t. Personally I found it to be fun especially once I started fighting with my created characters. The main downside was that my hands become seriously cramped after just a couple minutes of playing. I imagine I’ll only be able to play in short bursts because of this. I don’t think the game was designed with the idea that people would be sitting at it for long periods at a time though anyway.

While I was encouraged by the improvement in my performance and the emerging strategical nature I remain concerned about the longevity the game may provide. Going up against the CPU is going to wear thin quickly. This is a game more suited for multiplayer so how much variety online play brings will be important and the online performance will have to be extraordinary considering how important reaction time is. The ability to share created boxers using Photo Face as well as the uploading of replays to EASW is going to play a big part in extending the enjoyment of the game.

Overall the demo seems to be a really good representation of what to expect considering it includes both gameplay and Photo Face to try out. How individuals feel about the demo will probably coincide with how much interest they’d have in purchasing the game.