MMA continues to gain popularity. Proof of this is in the fact that we now have multiple MMA games on the market. EA recently released their entry into the genre. At E3 2010 they wowed many people who attended and gaming journalists (myself included). I have been waiting for this game since E3 and the long await is over. The question now is, was the wait worth it? To help gamers decide, XxICExX87 and I made the audio review above where we discuss the game. Along with that, I will share some of the pros and cons in text form.
As usual for a game I actually enjoy, I will start with the flaws. EA Sports MMA has two control options for striking. Gamers can either use the analog sticks or the face-buttons. This is a similar dynamic to the latest Fight Night game. Like in Fight Night, EA wants gamers to use the analog sticks. Unlike in Fight Night, EA does not separate people online who fight with the buttons from people who use the analog sticks. This is a huge issue that a lot of people (myself included) have ran into online. The strength in EA Sports MMA striking system is the balance and depth in it. Stronger, more complex strikes and combos take more time to execute and have a high risk and reward offering. When fighting against people who use the buttons, the time and complexity of said strikes and combos is greatly lowered. If people pick fighters with great stand up and stamina (like a Gegard Mossasi) they can almost endlessly throw out strikes.
Another issue I have with EA Sports MMA is the balance in the ground game. Players only have to press one button to defend against submissions, ground transitions, separation, and even attempting to stand back up. On the other side, players have to press many different buttons and button-direction combinations to do the previously stated things. This makes being a grappling focused character unfairly difficult. This is a shame because there are many fighters in MMA that are this way. One of the legends they have in the game, Royce Gracie, went his entire career never losing a fight and submitting everyone of his opponents. Speaking of the ground game, Submissions are an issue here. Submissions are broken into Limb and Choke submission types. Limb submissions are submissions focused on the arms or legs of an opponent. Each has their own rating. Choke submissions focus on the neck and has its own rating. Limb and Choke submissions have two separate mini-games. The Limb submission mini-game works perfectly. There is no guess at all. Both players have to tap the appropriate button in sequence to put efficient use of their stamina to either lock in the submission or escape. Basically, players battle in a control of their stamina to increase or decrease the stress on a limb. As the the submission gets lock in tighter, players will see the bone of the limb in focus. The more red on the bone, the closer the player is to tapping. Of course, vice-versa is the case for defending the submission. No button mashing at all here folks. In fact, if you button mash, you will lose all your stamina and surely lose the limb submission battle. Choke submissions are a different story. Stamina is taken into account here as well, but not to the same degree. The mini-game for choke submissions is a guessing and searching game.
A good game is one that does more right than wrong. One where a player can acknowledge the flaws in the game and yet continue to enjoy the game for what it does right. This game does way more right than wrong. This game is filled to capacity with replayability and longevity. The “Create-A-Fighter” feature linked into the career mode is extremely indepth and time consuming. After finishing the career mode itself a few times, players will return here trying to mold their created fighters to their liking. I have already deleted the very first fighter I made because of the issue I listed before about making grappling focused characters. I am currently working on making a character that has a solid stand up while still having a Judo focus. The career mode is very well done and the fight commentary really shines in career mode. It is extremely reactive to the fight at hand, and the external factors. Expect to hear mentions of locations of training, coaches you trained with, fighting styles you focus on, winning streaks, and much much more. The tutorial mode in game is horrible. The tutorial players go through when starting a career on the other hand is splendid. I learned so much about the game playing career in terms of both the basics, advanced techniques, and special moves.
The online in EA Sports MMA is the best in a sports game out now, period. It has features that I now expect in all sports games online. There are so many to list. The ability to host your own fight cards is revolutionary. You can not only watch fights on the card while not fighting, you can also just be in the room and watch the fights as if it was a Pay-Per-View event. There is a fighter share feature that lets people upload created fighters. This is key because it allows you to download fighters that aren’t in the game from other MMA organizations. The martial arts belt ranking system and the championship ranking system is great and draws players in. I just got to Orange Belt two days ago, the same day I won my first online championship belt in the Light-Heavyweight division. EA themselves host online tournaments and streams of fights cards they make between developers of the game and any challengers. Lag is not an issue and the online fighting actually works and works well. The game automatically saves replays of your latest ranked matches that you or anyone can watch and it is all done easily and quickly. You can use this to scout the top fighters on the leaderboards, study yourself, and get feedback from friends on you technique and performance. I use this feature daily with XxICExX87 and our friend Angelic Prophet. There is also the EA Sports Live Broadcast feature. If you create a fighter and take him online, look for an EA Sports promoter. Along with your own made hype video, you could get set up to fight on a card that will be shown to all players of the game and have chances to win real world prizes from EA and more along with online fame. Your fight will also get live commentary. My expectations for online play and features in sports games have greatly increased thanks to this game.
I can’t say this enough. If you are a fan of MMA, you would be doing yourself a great disservice by not giving this game a try. If you are a fan of competitive sports games period, I suggest renting this game or at least trying the demo. It is sad that a lot of people will sleep on this game or hate on it because it is not a UFC game. This puzzles me because EA Sports MMA is about more than just StrikeForce. It has fighters from many organizations from all over the world. If you do not know who fighters like Jason “Mayhem” Miller (host of MTV’s Bully Beatdown and all around hilarious guy) are, you don’t know MMA. Hell, there are fighters in the game that either have fought in the UFC or do now. Jake Shields is in the game and he just won his UFC debut fight. Honestly, there are too many great fighters in the game for me to list. EA Sports MMA allows fighters to fight with rules from all organizations. Vale Tudo, StrikeForce, Japanese, and Unified rule sets are all in the game and players can pick which ones they want for a fight. You can also pick the type of ring you fight in. I have been hooked ever since I got my copy from EA and I do not see this changing any time soon. If you want or need more information or insight on the game, I strongly suggest listening to the audio review above (XxICExX87 did a great job). Give this game a try.