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Facebreaker Review

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It's punching above it's weight...

★★★★★

Despite having the Fight Night series under its belt – the best boxing game in the world, no less – gaming behemoth EA has stepped into the ring once more with Facebreaker, a cartoon take on pugilism that harks back to the days of comedy sims such as Punch Out!!! And Ready 2 Rumble. But while the game is blessed with intuitive controls and charismatic characters that make it feel more like an old-school beat ’em up than a po-faced simulation, Facebreaker is undermined by vacuous gameplay and cheap action that becomes tiresome after a few brief bouts.

While there’s short-term fun to be had in using the stripped-down controls to string together chains of attacks – and in using strategy to fill the meter that allows you to unleash jaw-shattering punches – it isn’t long before the game’s shockingly poor balance comes into play, with many characters using moves that are nigh-on impossible to block and leave your fighter reeling on the spot and open to more punishment.

In visual terms things aren’t much better, the initial thrill of Facebreaker’s wide selection of colourful characters soon eroded by seeing players’ punches going right through their opponent and out the other side, and a variety of snail-paced animations that take an age to play out and give your opponent an opportunity to line up a killer blow.

In multiplayer the action fares slightly better as many of the solo game’s shortcomings can be avoided, so long as players agree not to use unfair attacks or exploit the title’s weaknesses. But as the action still largely boils down to hammering the same two buttons and hoping for the best, Facebreaker’s shallow gameplay is best suited to younger players who are happy pounding the gamepad to unleash stylised violence.

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