FaceBreaker - First look

FaceBreaker is the spearhead title in EA's new gaming 'brand', Freestyle. Freestyle is all about accessibilty andapproachability, apparently, which translates into a cartoon boxing game that puts high value on 'old school' gameplay - which is what EA reckons everybody loves. But can we love FaceBreaker?

This is an unashamedly button-bash happy fighter. Think Ready 2 Rumble's exaggerated visuals and punchery meeting Mortal Kombat-style combat-based finishing moves (though minus the severed heads and gore-dripping spinal cords). The idea is fast, furious and fun action. From what we've seen so far, however, the reality is faintly underwhelming.

When EA treated us to a first look, during our recent visit to the huge EA Sports HQ in Vancouver, Canada, the effort put into the title was clear. The dev team has worked hard to create a distinctive style, creating Facebreaker's characters as animated action figurines, with strong individual appearances.

So we've got Romeo, the lithe and lothario-tastic Latin American battler, with an obviously over-inflated ego. Or Voodoo, a walking witch-doctor stereotype who can poison opponents with a stinking cloud attack, leaving themdazed and vulnerable to vicious attack. Unless they pummel themselves in the face hard enough to recover first, natch.

And if the larger-than-life comic book bruisers aren't to your liking, you can just create your own. There's limits, of course - with a couple of mug shots you can effectively put anyone in the game (as the devs illustrated with a boxing-gloved Peter Moore) but then it's a case of choosing a 'body style' from a character in the main roster, which also dictates your fighting style.