The all-new fighting game MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has finally hit the shops over a year since it was first announced by EA Sports. Despite lacking the star names of the sport, MMA features fighters known from Strikeforce, Dream and nearly every other big name involved in the discipline (with the notable exception of the UFC fighters). However, the absence of these fighters shouldn’t deter you from playing this excellent game.
Visually, I think the game runs UFC very close, with the fighters and battle venues rendered in incredible detail. The pre and post fight cut scenes are great and really help the atmosphere of the fight come alive. The actual in game graphics are even better. A really great detail is the fighters will begin to show the scars of the battle over the course of a bout, with cuts and bruises appearing, and even their gloves and body end up stained with from the contact the other fighters blood!
One of the most significant differences between EA MMA and UFC Undisputed is that former has chosen to represent the sport across all it’s various titles and disciplines in much the same way as the boxing world, reflecting the fact that mixed martial arts exists in many forms, as opposed to the latter which features solely the UFC titles fighters. The game is all the better for this as it allow it to be more customisable, from the obvious appeal of heavyweight battles with powerful fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture, to the create your own fighter feature which enables you to fight as your own custom character, perhaps a slightly beefier version of yourself.
The choice of soundtrack lets the game down somewhat with obvious commercial bands such as the likes of Linkin Park detracting from the genuine credibility that the sport strives for – this type pastiche rock has always been associated with wrestling games, and it’s inclusion here over maybe more alternative music is perhaps missing a trick. The sounds effects of the game itself are very realistic, if a little lightweight at times. The commentary is great and although you soon tune it out as you play, it helps bring the game alive and will occasional raise the odd smile.
Overall the game play is strong, with the striking aspect very good, it’s a little bit easier to link combos together than UFC, although grappling is definitely not as good as it should be, it’s far too simple and limited. However, the submission system for the game is excellent, not simply a case of mashing the buttons, there is a much greater sense of strategy in this aspect of the game. Another really cool aspect of the game is the training mode, which allows you to upgrade the skill levels of your fighter and gives a little extra dimension to the game outside of the battle mode.