Is this pack-in game more than a system showcase?
Face Raiders, which comes pre-loaded on the 3DS, is a novel concept. Using the outward-facing 3DS cameras, you spin the system around while shooting maniacal faces that appear on the screen, looking like they are infiltrating the real world. These faces are ones you take pictures of, either before each level of the game or in the 3DS camera application.
The game, for the most part, is nothing more than an extended tech demo, offering nine levels spread across two modes. However, the concept wouldn't hold up for much longer, and Face Raiders is clearly aware of its limits, something that similar DSi-exclusive titles, such as System Flaw, weren't cognizant of. Each level is short, and a quick playthrough of all the game's content won't take you more than a half hour.
The best part of Face Raiders is humor, even more so when you can show your friends. Before each level, the game asks you to take a picture of someone. It could be you, a friend, or a picture. Sometimes it'll even you give you greater details such as "Take a picture of someone with a square face" or "Take a picture of someone who inspires you."
After you take a picture, you see the image transform into a villain, complete with a scrunched up face and a devilish smirk and/or laugh. The levels involve shooting down that face in numerous forms, culminating in a boss battle. All of the bosses are very well designed, with one sporting a giant afro.
In addition to the six-level primary mode, there is a three-level Show a Friend mode. Geared to making the experience easy to use for a first-time 3DS user through tutorials and simpler mechanics, this mode offers different levels. As previously mentioned, the game pilfers pictures of people's faces from the 3DS Camera, and you can turn on Surprise Snaps, which will take pictures of the game randomly while you play.
Face Raiders might not be the augmented reality showcase that the AR Games are, but it experiments with the subject in a much more playable manner. The enemies burst out of the walls, and sometimes make up part of the environment around you. They'll even steal faces of people who are in the camera's view. It's all very natural and fluid.
While the game supports 3D, it's not really ideal to keep on when you're moving the system around. My biggest trouble was keeping the 3D in focus as I moved around with the system, and I had a few friends who got motion sickness from the combination of moving the system around and looking at the 3D effects.
Face Raiders is the equivalent of a downloadable title, and if this were to come out on the eShop, I would deem it a must purchase for every 3DS owner. Luckily, Nintendo included the game on the system, so you don't need to worry about that. All you need to worry about is playing one of the best experiences on the system at launch.