MMA was definitely out in force this year at E3. The big hitters were obviously UFC Undisputed: 2010, which had a massive octagon shaped booth complete with UFC ring girls and EA MMA, which was both as impressive as THQ's offering and very similar to it. Slightly lost in all of this was one other title, Supremacy MMA, which was not on the show floor. We got a chance to take a look at this much more arcadey take on MMA from Kung fu factory walked out intrigued about their interpretation of one the fastest growing sports in America.
One thing to note first is that just because this title is an IP published by 505 does not mean that the team has no experience creating MMA games. Kung Fu Factory was not only the creator of the first UFC Undisputed game, but it also has roots going back to the original Ultimate Fighting Championship game on the Dreamcast. Considering these two titles, they definitely have the pedigree to create a quality mixed-martial-arts title.
The first thing we noticed about the game when our demo started was the arena that you were fighting in. Gone are the glitzy arenas of Las Vegas and Brazil and in their place are bars with cages in them. The change of scenery was part of a move to create a game which brought MMA back to its underground roots. In order to enhance this feeling, the bar was populated by strippers and cock fighting. Although the difference in atmosphere seems like a small one does make a difference in how the game feels, as right from the get-go you know you aren't fighting in the UFC, although there are non-licensed arena levels.
The gameplay only reinforces this different take on the genre. We only saw a stand up demo, but were immediately stunned by how fast the fighters move. The moves are more similar to the punches and kicks of characters in fighting games than the super realistic kicks of Anderson Silva. There is also much more blood incorporated into Supremacy than in other MMA games, another small addition which makes a big difference just how the game feels.
The last choice that Kung Fu made which pushes Supremacy into a different realm than sport simulation games is the lack of stats. Instead of giving your fighter ratings which can be increased, you will be forced to match your style to whatever your opponent is trying to do. In particular, we saw a situation where a muy thai fighter worked to get his opponent into a clinch and buckle his opponents knees with kicks, causing him to collapse to the floor in a segment which produced more than a couple of oohs. Also to be included are finishing moves, which are attacks that can blow out knees or shoulders. These moves reinforce the style of Supremacy in that they are very brutal, very realistic, very raw.
This emphasis on style over stats carries over into online, where the hope is that gamers can become the best in their style not by having maxed out ratings but employing their fighter in the best possible way depending on the situation.
Ground work wasn't showed in the demo, nor were the guys at Kung Fu ready to reveal any details about that yet. I for one am curious to see how they keep the fast paced, style-based gameplay in tact when it comes to working with your back on the mat.
To tell the truth, I was a bit taken aback when I first saw Supremacy, as it is, quite simply, unlike any other MMA game on the market. The speed, lack of licensed characters, and totally different atmosphere do plenty to separate it from the simulation style MMA fighters on the market. So, if you're in the mood for some Mortal Kombat in your mixed-martial-arts, look out for Supremacy MMA in the future (no release date has been announced yet).