Published on July 14th, 2010 | by prime2
EA Sports MMA – Preview
It’s a rare situation that sees a video game go hand-in-hand with an upcoming sports promotion, but that’s what is happening with the functionally titled EA Sports MMA. MMA company and UFC competitor Strikeforce has spent the past 12 months drenching its every advertising inch in EA logos, and to the ill-informed, this could look like the official Strikeforce videogame.
It’s not, though. It might be filled with Strikeforce’s commentators, cages and fighters, but EA MMA is an international affair. The Career mode will see your photoface-created fighter travelling the globe in search of mixed martial arts supremacy. In order to do so, you’ll have to get a grasp of every aspect of this multifaceted sport. Striking owes a debt of gratitude to EA Chicago’s most famous son, Fight Night, with analogue sweeps and stabs letting off jabs, hooks and crosses. Instead of Total Punch Control, EA is calling it Total Strike Control, in reference to MMA’s eight points of contact: fists, elbows, feet and knees. The stand-up game, as it is known, has a looseness to it that is absent from UFC Undisputed, but only extended hands-on time will reveal its true depth. There’s punch slipping, counter strikes and heavy-handed knockout blows, but some repeated animations and a lack of impact are slightly concerning at this stage.
Much more confident is EA Sports MMA’s grappling, which is the closest we’ve come to digitally, recreating the subtleties and strength of ground and clinch fighting. Closing distance and grabbing hold of your opponent is a more viable and visually pleasing tactic than in UFC 2010, and takedowns look organic and suitably painful.
EA has chosen to utilize the buttons for ground transitions, opting for a cat-and-mouse style mind game, coupled with brutal ground and pound of course. As for submissions, they operate through their own little minigames, involving button matching or tweaking the right stick. It’s preferable to UFC’s ‘shine’ system which leaves holes in hands and controllers in tatters. How it performs in the most crucial arena, online, will be the ultimate test.
Talking of which, surely the most interesting thing happening in EA MMA’s development is ‘Live Broadcast’, an unprecedented online mode that sees fights between top players broadcast over Xbox Live, with commentary from real, live play-by-play guys. It’s an amazing development.
Fighters who are chosen for a ‘Live Broadcast’ fight will first make ‘hype videos’ to talk up their chances – the equivalent of a pro-wrestling ‘promo’ – before taking on their opponent over Live, with thousands watching. Quite how the selection process is decided is still unknown, as are the logistics of such a complicated and potentially problematic system, but in terms of ambition, it’s huge.
EA has already said that Live Broadcast could appear in future sports titles across their portfolio, and given the company’s tendency to roll ideas out across everything, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Live Broadcasts of Madden and FIFA in the near future. This year, though, it’s all about the cage. Or indeed ring, as EA Sports MMA truly is an international Mixed Martial Arts Endeavour. Will it be enough to usurp the mighty UFC Undisputed? Only one way to find out… FIGHT!