Predictably poor licensed pap aside (hello WALL-E, Iron Man and Lost!) there haven’t been many truly awful Xbox 360 games released this year. That was until EA’s Facebreaker came along; a game that’s akin to a five year old child telling you the same joke over and over again. And then you throw the child in the nearest dustbin.
Facebreaker has been put together by the people behind the sublime Fight Night Round 3, but you’d be hard pushed to tell. In actual fact, it plays more like one of the 3D Mortal Kombat games than a proper boxing game – there are no rules and the special moves are ludicrous, but mainly because each of the stereotypical characters (mad Russian, Italian stallion, black voodoo guy, boxing monkey etc) has a fatality-style facebreaker finishing move. These quickly become tiresome to watch, as the characters have just one of these automatically performed moves.
Everything – from the controls to the menus – has been kept simple, but to the point where there’s no meat on the bones of the game. There’s no referee, no grapples and not even any countdowns after being knocked out. It’s a button basher through and through, requiring very little thought or effort.
Playing online is also a shallow experience. If you play against someone who hasn’t mastered the parrying system (high punch counters low punch, mid punch counters high punch, and so on) then matches can be over in a matter of seconds. At the end of a match your opponent’s black and blue face gets mounted on a plaque that the winner gets to keep as a trophy, which is just about the only feature of note as far as online play is concerned. And then? Then you’re chucked back to the main menu to search for a new rival. It’s possible to create characters and upload them for others to play as, though. Fan-made clones of Borat, The Joker and Hitler were proving popular when I was messing around online.
With no real depth, a tiresome cast and a single player mode that can be beaten in just a few hours, Facebreaker’s punch line just isn’t funny. Ready 2 Rumble on the Dreamcast was way better than this.