Take this! And a bit of that! And some of this!
So you wanna wrassle? Or maybe you wanna box? How about a little of each? This isn't your kid brother we're talking about here, this is MMA from EA Sports, that game Dana White doesn't want you to know about. THQ's Undisputed series has had the sport in an armbar for the past few years. But now, a new opponent (really, the first one) has entered the octagon with a whole slew of techniques Undisputed has never seen before.
[image1]While the ticket of THQ vs. EA (and to a lesser extent, UFC vs. Strikeforce) has been made into the featured fight, MMA and Undisputed are two very different beasts. The biggest difference Undisputed vets will have an issue with is the control scheme. Much like EA's Fight Night and Skate series, most moves are done with the right stick. Curving the right stick to the left or right results in a hook, and pushing diagonally left or right results in quick jabs. Holding the left trigger (L2) modifies these into kicks, while holding the right bumper (R1) modifies punches and kicks into body blows.
The real star here is the way fights transition from stand up, to clinch, to the ground game - each of which is assigned to a specific button. Pushing the 'Y' (triangle) button clinches and releases your opponent in the stand-up or lets you stand up from the ground. The 'A' (X) button is used to take an opponent to the mat when standing and to improve your position on the ground or in the clinch. The 'B' (circle) button is used to deny opponents when they try to take you down or improve their position in a hold. The all-important 'X' (square) button is used for submission holds and choke-outs.
Rarely is it appropriate to button mash. Every button press has to be thought-out, methodical, and well-placed, or you're going to lose it. When you get caught in a submission hold, don't panic. This doesn't help. Instead, even when pushing opposing buttons in submission lock-ups, it's better to conserve and expend your stamina wisely.
[image2]EA Sports MMA might remind you of Street Fighter or any good multiplayer fighter where you almost always end up playing mind games in the online multiplayer. A good MMA player's skill lies not in how fast they can hit buttons, but knowing what buttons to hit in which combination and in what situation. EA Sports MMA has really knocked this one out by simplifying the controls, but not dumbing them down. There's a lot to understand about mixed martial arts, and if you're looking for the most authentic control over your fighter, EA Sports MMA is what you want to play.
One thing EA Sports MMA has over the competition is an integration of some interesting Xbox Live features. The most notable of these is the EA Sports Live Broadcast, which takes two players from the community and puts them center stage, scheduling their bout and broadcasting it to everyone on Xbox Live and the Internet. That kind of attention can really make the online community light up and is something I hope future EA Sports titles take advantage of.
While MMA excels over Undisputed in how it controls and some online capabilities, it doesn't do anything else better. WIthout all that sweet UFC licensing, the casual MMA viewer is probably not going to care about the fighters offered here aside from Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture, and a few others. But some of the biggest personas in EA Sports MMA aren't playable. You'll run into many of these stars in a vanilla career mode, where you're simply visiting their gyms around the world and learning special moves from them. That's it, though.
EA Sports MMA doesn't rely on names or clout to sell mixed martial arts to gamers. If you want to be your favorite fighter and have a fight night at home with some buddies, you're probably better off looking to UFC. If you want a game that controls better, presents the sport in a more favorable light, and really handles the intricacies and spirit of MMA, EA Sports has you covered. The fact that it feels more like the sport is the knock-out.