Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has become a mainstream sport much like football or basketball these days thanks to some very smart marketing and hard effort of the UFC. Since the popularity of MMA has skyrocketed and the UFC games did well, it was no surprise when EA Sports announced that they would be diving into the arena as well. Is EA Sports MMA in the same league as UFC or perhaps even a UFC killer? Read on, my fight fans, read on.
EA Sports MMA takes a page from its brother franchise Fight Night and allows the player to perform all types of strikes via the right analog stick. The face buttons controls your fighter’s transitions, grapples, blocks and clinches. This is pretty much the exact opposite of UFC Undisputed and was done to make the game more accessible. It succeeds, as grappling now is much easier to pull off, and even a non-seasoned player has a shot against a seasoned player. The game is far from a button masher though – it demands good timing and patience, as stamina is something that is pivotal in every fight.
EA Sports MMA shines in its career mode where Bas Rutten takes you under his wing and helps you train your way to stardom. You can choose to create your fighter from scratch or try using your camera to load in your own face, and all your specific details like hometown, age, shorts, shirt, nickname, etc. After you get your look down it is time to pick your fight style. You can choose form Judo, Sambo, BJJ, Boxing, Kick Boxing, Wrestling, etc. Your fight style determines where your strengths will lie: i.e. if you choose boxing your kicks will be less than stellar and if you choose Jiu-Jitsu you will be a grappling stud that is looking to choke out your opponents at any given time.
You start your career taking a few fights to act as a tutorial of sorts and then get promoted to the pseudo pro leagues. You choose a fictitious league, and once you grab the title there you move up to another league until you end up in Strikeforce. Training is a pivotal part of your career, and it will help fine tune your fighter from a minor league fighter to a main event head liner. You will be able to train in grappling, boxing, kick boxing and takedowns in order to build up your attributes in mini games which get graded. Once you get an A rating you can simulate those tasks in order to speed up your training, which is a nice feature. You can also travel to famous gyms like Randy Couture’s or the Gracie gym which will allow you to learn one of 16 special moves. These will help give you an edge either by learning how to fake a takedown or perform a specific submission.
EA Sports MMA differs greatly from the UFC titles because it focuses more on the sport itself as well as the history of MMA. There are plenty of MMA facts littered throughout the loading screens and you can fight in a hexagonal cage, round cage or even a ring. Also available are different rule sets which will allow fighters to perform foot stomps and kicks to the head while an opponent is on the ground, ala Pride Fighting.
Online mode is packed to the brim with options from complete tournaments and events with developers, to full out events with ten spots – eight for fighters and two for announcers. As you fight online you will be awarded points which will let you upgrade your belt status to face better competition.
EA Sports MMA is a potential UFC killer and is a great MMA title for any fan of the sport. It will take some getting used to the new controls, but the smooth gameplay and great graphics make it easier to work through. Some submissions can be deemed a bit cheesy, as you can slap triangle chokes in the first few seconds of a round and submit someone if your good enough, but then again that is how MMA goes. The game is a lot of fun with friends and online. Even the AI will become a challenge. The only real drawbacks to this title are the occasional wonky camera angles which give you odd views of the mat from underneath, and a slim lineup of fighters that some people may not be familiar with. But the odd camera angles only last a few seconds, and you have the ability to create fighters.
This is a must have for any fan of MMA and anyone who wants a fighting game that involves strategy and timing.