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FaceBreaker - First look

The pre-created cast are engaging enough, though, if a little predictable. The actual battling hinges on the Breaker bar, a four stage meter at the foot of the screen that builds up as you smash out the combos and gives you new levels of jaw-busting power.

Each level links to a big power combo. There's the BoneBreaker, a heavy punching attack, then the GroundBreaker, which generally ends with a pounding ground-slam, and the SkyBreaker, featuring some neat juggling assaults to keep your enemy up in the air. Finally, there's the FaceBreaker, which ends with a crunching blast to the face and automatically wins the match.

Launch a FaceBreaker and you'll also bag yourself a trophy - your opponent's battered and bruised mug to mount on a wall. Well, in your virtual trophy room at least. The moves themselves are pleasingly dramatic and elaborate, and you'll need a bit of skill to pull them off successfully, as they're all rolling, continuous combos rather than huge attacks triggered by a single input of moves.

The problem is that, as you'd expect, the making of a fighting game is in the feel and response of its control system and action. You can watch it happening in front of you, but you can't really judge whether it'll actually be any good until you've fought for yourself. And while FaceBreaker's cartoonish fisticuffs looks okay, it didn't leave us wishing we'd had a chance to play it.

Fight Night Round 3, for instance, caught your attention because of the controls - and you immediately wanted to try it for yourself. We're a little wary of Street Fighter IV, but waiting to play the ruddy thing is incredibly hard going. We really want to play these games, but FaceBreaker? Well, it'll probably be alright. It will probably be fun. But it's unlikely to tear us away from Fight Night or Street Fighter.

EA really pushed the idea that gamers (and especially casual gamers) are desperate for 'old school' gameplay, which it seems will influence the games under the Freestyle brand. We just hope that there's depth to FaceBreaker that we haven't seen yet, beyond the fairly interesting Breaker bar system. And, that when we finally get our hands on it, our doubts are smashed in the face.

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