Facebreaker Impressions

Posted September 9th, 2008 at 7:18 am

Facebreaker kicks off EA Sports new Freestyle brand of games which is focused on accessibility and directed more towards the casual group of gamers. The price is even lower than the standard games in order to make them more appealing to a wider group of consumers. That makes it all the more puzzling that the game is so frustratingly difficult that it would likely turn off those same people.

There are elements of strategy and there is great separation between someone who is good at the game and someone who isn’t. Facebreaker is both a button masher and not a button masher. You’re forced through a controller workout all the while having to make instant decisions based on anticipating what your opponent is about to do. Pounding on random buttons isn’t going to bring much success, but you will have to pound on buttons with a strategy in place.

Possibly the biggest issue I’ve run into that I stated after playing the demo as well is that the action is so fast and intense that my hand severely cramps up. I literally can’t play more than one or two fights without taking a break. I put that on the style of the game which really doesn’t allow for any time to naturally relax. Everything is based on anticipation and quickness of response. My hand hurts right now even just thinking about it, to the extent that I really can’t get excited about playing the game. Really what it comes down to is the game is just too fast.

Head-to-head is where the game was expected to have the most value. Granted it does provide a more fun experience going up against another person. But if one is better than the other, the person on the wrong end is going to despise every second. I just don’t get the sense that it is something that will have lasting appeal. Despite the critical hit that NFL Tour took I had more fun and spent more time with it than many of the sim games that have been released. Even with its flaws and lack of depth it was going up against friends that was so much fun. I don’t see Facebreaker succeeding in that same way. Maybe the Wii version which releases in November will achieve that.

Online play offered a sufficiently fluid and responsive environment and that allows the fights to feel as though the best player will come out on top. The problem I did have was several opponents were disconnected during the fight. It is nice being able to use created characters online. Unfortunately they don’t have replays available to save and upload from the online fights.

Photo Face does come through as a great addition. Seeing some of the created characters that have been uploaded to EA Sports World is amusing and does add a different element to the game and extends its value. It would’ve been nice to have more customization, especially in hair styles, as the created representations vary from good to ugly. It is also nice to have the video highlight uploading, though you can read my full thoughts on what detracts from that feature here.

Overall it is really tough to understand what the intentions were for Facebreaker. The Freestyle brand is about accesibility and fun and Facebreaker doesn’t seem to provide much of either.