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EA MMA was supposed to be the next big title to come out of the EA sports brand. Refocusing on the fast rising sport of mixed martial arts, the EA sports team would look to use their experience and expertise to cash in on the ever growing sport but would EA MMA live up to EA standards?
In this outing, the Electronic Arts team were, possibly for the first time, without the major branding or label for their title. In every EA Sports title on the market, EA has always had the major brand or the major league such as the NBA, the NFL, the MLB or the NHL. However in this title, the premier mma promotion in Northern America (The Ultimate Fighting Championship) was already taken by rival gaming company THQ.This meant that EA would have go with the second best thing as they picked up the official Strikeforce brand.
There is no doubt that not having the UFC brand hurt the sales of game but looking past just sales, the game itself would have not done well, UFC branding or not. Fundamentally the game is flawed and utterly not up to standard for a EA title. There are three major modes in the game : exhibition, career and online. All three game modes fall well short of what you'd expect from this company. Exhibition is exactly what you'd expect, you fight an AI opponent under a number of rule sets (with no option to create your own) and that's about it. There isn't much to bring you back to play the game with exhibition mode.
Career mode should have been a major selling point for the title but yet again a seeming lack of time or care left this mode in a dire state. Rather than being this ever changing experience that would bring players back time and time again, career mode is nothing more than a overly long arcade mode. As a career mode fighter you get to create your own fighter (with limited choices for variation) and build him up as you rise through the ranks. For some reason you, the player, do not decide whom you fight so the entire process feels more like a chore than anything else and by the end you'll be hoping that the fortieth and final fight will come sooner.
Finally you have the online portion of the game which is, unsurprisingly, spoiled by cheap exploits. Overall the entire game needs to be patched extensively. New modes need to be added, the create a fighter mode needs to be made more in depth and the career mode needs to be completely redone. Clearly none of that will be changed with a patch so the best advice would be to avoid this game at all costs. Unless EA MMA gets a $30 price reduction, there is no reason that even the most hardcore MMA fan should pick this up.
** This review is also on ciao.co.uk by Honest-Dan**
Being a huge MMA fan and having previously played the UFC titles I didn't really expect much of this game, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the gameplay is and honestly prefer it over the more common UFC titles.
I feel this game has been really well thought out as everything from the presentation and graphics to the unique control system really do make it a completely different experience compared to UFC.
The roster size is pretty good and EA have managed to get some of the well known fighters onto this game such as Randy Couture, Bob Sapp, and Ken Shamrock but for the more familiar MMA fan there are a great amount of fighters who you will recognise like Pat Miletich, Dan Henderson, Josh Barnett, Kevin Randleman, Bobby Lashley, Alistair Overeem, Nick Diaz and Fedor Emelianenko.
Game modes vary from career, single match-ups and online.
::: In the octogon :::
Fights on this game are excellent due to the easy straight forward control system, all punches and kicks are done via the right analog stick whilst the left analog controls movement around the octogon and various ducks and sways.
Choke Submissions are done by pressing a single button when in the correct position stance then locating the sweet spot which is achieved by rotating the analog stick, which I feel is a much simpler and more effective way than what UFC utilises.
Stamina is key within this game and affects the fight on how you choose to use it, you can attack your opponent straight from the bell to get that quick knockout but fail and your fighter will take time to recover and rebuild his stamina whilst your opponent has the upper hand. I feel this gives the game a more exciting feel to it and especially when playing online as you never know what type of fighter you're going to be up against.
One of my favourite fight features is the flash knockout, this basically is a knockout you can perform at any time within the fight regardless of your opponents power or stamina gauges, only way to achieve this is by catching your opponent with a perfect shot but there is no indication to let you know what is or what isn't a perfect shot.. Your opponent will just drop and the fight is over. This is a great feature which makes each fight so unpredictable no matter how skillful you are.
::: Career mode :::
Considering this is the first EA MMA game, the career mode's longetivity is great and has some excellent features along the way.
There are two main leagues in EA MMA and you opt to compete in one of them, each has it's own individual octogon rules such as round time and ground rules like elbows and knees.
Depending on which league you choose you will come up against a different array of fighters from across the world and your aim is to become champion within that league. Each league is an individual xbox 360 achievement which gives you another reason to do career mode all over again but this time against different fighters and different rules, I think this is a really great idea as re-doing the whole career mode again against the same fighters would seem a bit of a drag to be honest.
Before each fight you have 8 weeks training, all training sessions are graded from 'A' downwards so once you've already aced a training session you can have the choice to sim it in the future and recieve the necessary attribute points, although training sessions usually only last around 30 seconds to a minute at most, also along the way there is the ability to learn new moves and techniques such as submissions and various punches/kicks which are essential once you climb the ranks.
::: Online :::
This is probably the best mode within the game in my opinion, with the majority of games I review, a large portion of it is based on career mode but the online mode is much more exciting and unpredictable.
Obviously with every game the computer AI will get pretty predictable over time and you can usually work out a system to take out a computer AI easily. But,
Online is just a whole different experience, there is no way to record an ''easy win'', you have to be strategic and effective.
Plus everytime you fight you earn points which go towards new rankings and different coloured belts, you can also create custom fight cards with upto 10 people who can watch and comment whilst they wait their turn. The most exciting part of the online is the leaderboard tournaments, if you're good enough to get high in the rankings you can be chosen to compete in live broadcasted finals in a Pay-per-view style event which are also commented on by Live MMA experts, but even if you don't get selected to compete in the finals you can still watch online through your console or even through the website. I feel this is an exceptional feature and something that is very unique.
::: Overall :::
EA MMA is a surprising well thought out game and an excellent attempt considering this is the first installment, obviously there is room for improvement in areas which I hope EA can advance on in future releases.
I imagine alot of players will be turned away due to lack of roster and would probably be most used to UFC controls and gameplay, I still wouldn't rule this one out though, even if it's just a rental to try it out for the online features ..it's definately worth it.