EA Sports MMA is the company's obvious response to THQ's UFC franchise that was initially successful and lately selling embarrassingly low totals. When the game was first conceived it seemed like the MMA video game market was booming but once the game actually came out you knew that it would have to be good to combat the already established game with the more recognizable branding. So how does EA MMA stack up and is it worth your time? Read on to find out.
The first thing you'll realize as soon as you boot up the game and play the tutorial to learn the controls is that the game has pretty much the same fighting mechanics as the Fight Night series. Some of the punches have been changed and there's a kick modifier but you block and parry the same way. Jabs, uppercuts and hooks all are made with the right stick too though there are no haymakers that dominated the Fight Night series. The punches seem more balanced and can be used to set up each other here as opposed to Fight Night where it was all to set up the haymaker.
This improves the fighting to more of a simulation of an MMA match which is probably the ultimate goal here by EA but the haymakers did make Fight Night more fun and helped you see what kind of impact you were laying on your opponent. The fun factor is diminished here a little bit but you have to cut EA some slack as this is the first game in the series and for all we know now, they could be following the MVP baseball way of building games that's been so successful for them so far.
MMA is going to be compared to THQ's UFC series because they're obviously the same sport and while I haven't spent much time invested in that game, Fight Night seems to be a much more apt comparison to me. The sport's different but the gameplay mechanics are nearly identical except you add in kicking and taking people down. It's essentially Fight Night evolved in a way which may be why MMA's replaced boxing as the most popular fighting sport in America.
But just because this game is similar to EA's best individual sports doesn't mean that it's perfect by any means. It's not so much that anything's wrong with the game; more that it's wrong with MMA in general. In mixed martial arts, there is so much time to train between the matches that you basically end up spending more time doing that or even simulating it than you do in regular matches in the career mode. The fights, unless you play on a hard difficulty, last only ninety seconds and that's if you're just fooling around. When you play with Ken Shamrock on easy or medium, you can just take them down and make them tap out. Ten second fight.
There's very little payoff to all the training you have to do in career mode as you just have a really short fight and then it's right back to training. You can't have any epic battles comparable to boxing since the fights last about ten minutes at most. These problems couldn't really be fixed by EA; it's just something wrong with MMA in general and even most MMA fans will have trouble getting into it since the most recognizable brand in this game is Strikeforce, a distant second to UFC.
If you're an unabashed fan of MMA then by all means this game functions as a companion to UFC or to Fight Night. If you love fighting and the one on one showdown in such a short window of time, then by all means this game is for you. The more popular fighters are in the UFC series but this game is quite good for a first effort by EA Sports. We'll just have to wait till the next edition to see where they go with it.