MMA for All!
February 23, 2010 – Last year’s UFC Undisputed was definitely a surprise hit. Though MMA has been a popular sport for decades, the UFC brand has made the sport an international phenomenon. And Though the franchise has spawned games before, last year’s Undisputed shattered sales records from previous iterations and was praised for its realistic combat and large roster. Not content to let THQ share the sports market, EA Sports has now stepped up to the plate to create a competitor for this new contender: EA Sports MMA. Although this title will not feature the UFC branding, there will be plenty of fighters, match types, and online features to make this title stand out. And, with the Tiburon development team behind it, you can’t help but be optimistic about this title’s prospects.
One of the first concerns any fan might have about EA MMA is how the roster will take shape. Although the world of MMA is vast, the UFC brand is certainly the most recognizable, and featuring competitors from this division would seem like a must. However, since UFC boss Dana White has stated that he is literally “at war” with EA over the competing title, there will be no UFC fighters appearing in the game (with the notable exceptions of Vladimir Matyushenko, who signed with the brand, and megastar Randy Couture, who never agreed to appear in the UFC series of games and will not appear in them from this point forward).
However, even without UFC stars, there will still be plenty of notable fighters in EA Sports MMA. Fighter’s from the American Strikeforce brand as well as DREAM and World Victory Road from Japan will all make appearances, and there will also be some International free agents appearing in the game as well. Notable fighters include former UFC superstar Ken Shamrock, Japanese superstar Hidehiko Yoshida, and the controversial Renato Sobral.
In addition to the star-studded roster, EA Sports MMA will also feature some intriguing gameplay. Though UFC Undisputed used a button-based combat system, EA Sports MMA will take a more fluid approach. Instead of pressing a button to strike, the game uses the thumbstick instead. This will allow the user greater control over the direction of the strikes and keep the pace of the action a little faster. Although you can switch the control around to use button-based control, the thumbstick mechanic will definitely be interesting to try out, and will hopefully give the game a realistic edge.
The fighting mechanics also include a detailed reaction system that tracks strength and location of body blows, and adjusts the AI to weaken those particular spots when they are subject to repeat strikes. So, if you are targeting the left leg, and you land a particularly devastating blow after some body shots, you will see the fighter falter much easier, as the left leg will be weak and more likely to give up under stress.
It seems the only thing we aren’t sure of about EA Sports MMA at this point is a release date. Though the game has been in development since last year, the release window is still open wide for 2010. However, since UFC 2010 Undisputed is scheduled for a late spring release, I can’t imagine EA sports MMA falling too far behind, given EA’s penchant for facing competing franchises head on (especially in the sports genre) and would expect to see the game released at about the same time.
Although the sport of MMA is still growing to capture the mainstream, it seems that it already has quite a foothold in the video game field. With one blockbuster title featuring the sport already, EA Sports MMA will have to make quite the impression to lure fans away from the UFC Undisputed series. Still, if there was one developer that could compete with this burgeoning franchise, it would be EA Sports, and I am excited to see what EA Sports MMA brings to the table later this year.