Jahanzeb Khan
18 Nov, 2010

EA Sports MMA Review

360 Review | EA Sports steps into the cage.
Video games based on the mixed martial arts have been making good progress as of late. In the past we had games like Pride FC serving as one of the better offerings, but last year THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2009 raised the bar for the genre. It has since been topped by UFC Undisputed 2010, a fairly solid game that was released earlier. EA Sports, not be outshined in sports based video games, have stepped into the arena with their latest offering, EA Sports MMA.

EA Sports MMA does not use the extremely popular UFC license, instead it features fighters whose likeness are not completely owned by the UFC as well as several independent MMA leagues and promotions from around the world. So EA Sports MMA really does end up being a different offering from UFC Undisputed 2010 and fans of the sport will be interested in the exclusive fighters and promotions that the game has to offer.

The game features over seventy real world MMA fighters, spread across five weight classes: Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, Welterweight and Lightweight. The roster may lack the big names of UFC but it does have the legendary Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock and Randy Couture. It also features several other fighters from Brazil, Japan, United States and Russia. Fans of pro wrestling will not be able to play as the indestructible Brock Lesnar, but the game does have the fearsome heavyweight Bobby Lashley. In terms of promotions, the game features several MMA promotions from around the world, including Japan, Brazil and United Kingdom, with the most major and prominent one being StrikeForce. Overall, EA Sports MMA doesn’t disappoint in terms of the use of license as it features plenty of exclusive content.

EA Sports "Anything THQ can do, we can do!"

EA Sports "Anything THQ can do, we can do!"
EA Sports MMA features several variations of MMA bouts, such as StrikeForce, Vale Tudo and Japanese rules. Depending on the rules, fights can take place inside a cage (hexagonal or circular) or boxing ring. Matches feature rounds lasting 3-20 minutes (depending on the rules in place) and actions such as ground attacks are not allowed under some rules. The objective of each MMA fight however remains the same: beat your opponent senseless to achieve victory, and this can be accomplished via submission, knockout or technical knockout. If all else fails, then the judge’s decision will determine the winner.

The fight controls are mostly analog based, dubbed as the ‘Total Strike Control’., which proves to be quite intuitive and works nicely. Players can choose to switch to ‘Classic Control’ which pretty much maps all the strike attacks on the face buttons, but we feel that the default ‘Total Strike Control’ is more enjoyable to use.

Strikes are performed using the right analog stick, and the type of motion will determine the strike - simply flicking the analogy stick will perform a quick jab/kick while twisting it a bit will perform a stronger hook/higher kick. You can also perform clinches, a grapple position that allows you to hammer your foe with strikes, push them towards the cage wall and/or slam them to the ground. The ground position is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the combat system, as it requires players to skillfully find an ideal position for some devastating strikes, counters and painful submission holds. Speaking of submissions, they work in of two ways: the limb-based submissions involve a tug-of-war button press between you and your opponent, while game displays an x-ray of your opponent’s bones. Your objective is to keep tapping the button until the bones turn red. The choke-based submission holds require you to turn the left analog stick in search for sweet spots on a big circle that pops up on screen.

Bruised, battered and choked.

Bruised, battered and choked.
EA Sports MMA can be a be a tad bit overwhelming at first, especially for new comers, but after spending time with its comprehensive tutorials and a few matches, the controls, systems and mechanics became quite straightforward and second nature. The interesting thing about the game is that it discourages (and penalizes) button bashing, as the stamina system in place forces players to think through their tactics carefully. Every action performed and blow taken consumes stamina, and players will need to carefully manage it as once their fighter runs out of stamina then there is very little they can do, thus making them helpless. Fights in EA Sports MMA feel like a game of chess, and require a lot more strategy, skill and timing than what you would normally expect.

In terms of modes of play, there isn’t a wealth of options but what’s available serves well enough to give the game plenty of value. The quick exhibition mode is obviously present but the main chunk of the single player game can be found in the Career mode. The mode is actually quite engaging, where you create a custom fighter and work through the ranks to become champion. You will also train in several gyms around the world, improving your fighter’s stats and learning new special moves. What’s great about the career mode is that it really revolves around your character as the media releases, phone messages, rivalries and even the in-game commentary reflect your fighter and his past performance and fighting style. It really is an engaging mode that will surely satisfy fans of the sport. Some of the compulsory training exercises can be a bit cumbersome, fortunately the game requires you to attempt these only once as you can simply stimulate them later on. The online mode is nicely done, and we quite enjoyed the experience as the matches ran smoothly with virtually no lag. You can look for a quick match, create match cards and take part in match cards. The live broadcast mode allows players to witness online matches featuring higher ranked players. Finally, the inevitable create-a-fighter mode isn’t nearly as deep or comprehensive as what can be found in the WWE Smackdown Vs Raw series, but still offers plenty of options to create a very unique character.

One perfectly executed hold can win you the championship.

One perfectly executed hold can win you the championship.
Graphically, EA Sports MMA looks fantastic with its near life-like textures, animations, facial expressions and character models, it looks almost like the real thing and the lighting and other details/effects look impressive as well. The audio work is particularly impressive as the commentary is usually spot on and well done, and it almost never feels random. The game overall is a visual and audio spectacle, capturing the look, feel and spectacle of a televised MMA fight.

EA Sports MMA is an impressive offering from the masters of sports-based video games. Whether it is better or worse than UFC Undispiuted2010, really comes down to preference. UFC 2010 will obviously be the definite experience for many as the UFC name is quite mainstream and popular, and thus appeals to both fans of the sport and fighting fans in general. But fans of the sport will most likely find value and enjoyment in EA Sports MMA.
The Score
Even without the UFC license, EA Sports MMA still manages to offer a polished, engaging and 'different' MMA experience that is likely to satisfy fans of the sport. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
Currently $69 @ JB Hifi

But i am waiting for a further price drop, in the same vein as Facebreaker's drop to $29.95, not long after it's release.
3 years ago
I had a crack at the demo of this and I didn't feel it lived up to Undisputed, maybe I need to have another crack because it sounds like a decent entry in the MMA field.

I guess I just need to get better acquainted with the stick controls.
3 years ago
If only the TPC matched the new fight night. I swapped to buttons to save my RS. Other than that, the AI is pretty good albeit magic reflexes pop up occasionally. Winning by KO 15 minutes into a close round is the best thing ever.
3 years ago
^Yea I had some really good match ups, like it said in one of the reviews, it's one of those few games that makes you feel good about losing even.
3 years ago
Holy crap, they licensed Big John McCarthy.

I almost need to buy this game now. >_>
3 years ago
This game should not be getting the high scores that it is. The gameplay dicks all over Undisputed (once you get used to it, and to be fair, using UFC controls), but Career mode is a joke. You unlock all the gyms very early on, and most of the special moves are useless for stand-up specialists. There's like 7 or 8 of them that're just submissions, I dunno how you could ever have like a Muay Thai focused fighter. Also the automated training gives you no incentive at all to spend any time between fights, so you just rocket through the promotions on a wave of instantaneous A-grade sparring. And then suddenly it just ends. No hall of fame, no build up, no cut-scenes along the way (in fact once you get to Strikeforce or Mystic, there's no more cut-scenes at all, and the ones up to that point were only Bas talking in the gym anyway).

The longevity of this game is atrocious. Unless you play it with mates, or you actually manage to find online fights with people who won't quit out on you (I'm still yet to win a fight I completely control), it just blows.

There's plenty of little niggles too. Like for example, (light spoilers I suppose) if you defend the Strikeforce or Mystic belt enough times, you'll be promised your next fight is title vs. title with the other promotion; that won't happen, not till end game. Or the commentary, which also sucks hard. The number of times I heard Mauro say my undefeated fighter's weakest point is the number of times he's been TKOd in a fight, or how my brawler with 5 KO wins is an outstanding submissions expert, is ridiculous.

It's a fun game, don't get me wrong, but there's just no substance to it at all. You'll get maybe one evening of fun with it, or however long you manage to make a fighter's career mode last (literally, a few hours can get you 40-odd fights and retirement), then only go back for the odd fight thereafter.
3 years ago
Crikey, a fighting game for more than one person? Unfathomable!

Live tag is loinnird, I won't quit on ya.
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