I'm sure that, like me, when you get into a fight you relish the opportunity to view the bumps and bruises on your fellow combatant's face. Unfortunately, in most boxing games, this is simply impossible...until Facebreaker came along, that is. Those of us with our respective console camera peripherals are able to take pictures of ourselves and see their on-screen avatar rule all before them. And that is pretty much the gimmick that sets Facebreaker apart from other fighting and boxing games - the opportunity to watch yourself get beaten up, which I'm sure we will all enjoy.
I quickly got my groove on with my PlayStation Eye, and (after much difficulty and resorting to a second pair of hands) took my photo from two different angles. This then took around 15 minutes to process a 3D image that looked almost completely unlike me.
In short, Facebreaker is not a boxing game but more a standard beat-'em-up where each character has forgotten how to kick. One button punches high, another button punches low. Also, holding these buttons dodges high or low - quite a slick control scheme in general. There is the standard grab button as well. You can also combine these attacks for various special moves for each character.
If you land a series of blows on your opponent (which is entirely based on whether or not the defender can block or dodge the blows) your Facebreaker bar heats up. If you then hit your opponent with an attack while your bar is at the maximum, you break your opponent's face and automatically win. This is (according to the manual) because you embarrass your opponent sufficiently rather than leaving any long-term damage. So that's alright then.
Once you have your character (or you can choose one of the pre-mades) you can enter the Brawl For It All mode. This consists of a series of battles against progressively tougher opponents drawn from the pre-made pool. Once you achieve victory with a character, extra items unlock - perhaps an extra character or arena.
I soon discovered that this is the main meat of the game. It is also seemingly artificially expanded by the fact that you need to beat each difficulty level with each character to unlock everything. Also, certain characters have particularly cheap special moves, and are very easy to win with - while other characters have to get lucky to beat the AI's characters. I shall refrain from commenting on which characters, for fear of spoiling what little sense of discovery there is in the game.
Like most fighting games, the multiplayer game is the best part. Beating your friend's sort-of image up is as fun as it sounds, and Facebreaker definitely has some mileage as a party game. However, it is crippled by the difficulty of getting the right shot and the seemingly excessive processing time for your digital image... definitely a party-killer if deployed at the wrong time.
In short, Facebreaker has a seemingly interesting premise but has this tacked onto a very simple beat-em-up gameplay mechanic. It is definitely good fun if you have the camera peripheral and can create your own image to fight with, but is simply not deep enough to deliver a knock-out blow as a standalone game.
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