More Fun To Watch Than To Play
Supremacy MMA is billed as the MMA game for people who aren’t MMA fans. It doesn’t have any license like Strikeforce or UFC, and this means it has no limits on violence, simple arcade-style controls, and a stylized art and music style. All of this seeks to appeal to random Joe Gamer’s thirst for violence and adrenaline. The problem is that random Joe Gamer isn’t very interested in MMA games. So the resulting dumbed-down half-wrestle-fest of a game ends up appealing to pretty much no one.
Let’s start with the basics. The point of Supremacy MMA is to break bones— all of the bones. There are twelve characters in the game, each with a unique fighting style. They each have a health meter, a super meter, and a fatigue chart that shows how damaged individual parts of their body are. Your job is to reduce your opponent’s health to zero. You do more damage if you attack areas of your opponent’s body that are fatigued or damaged, and you can use your super meter to temporarily gain a damage boost. That’s really the extent of the game’s mechanics.
The button configuration is pretty simple too. Two buttons use strikes, one button grapples, and one button blocks. When grappled, the left stick changes your position, two buttons strike, and one button goes for a submission hold. When being grappled, you can press circle or the left stick at the right time to break the hold or gain the advantage. Even though every character supposedly has “their own fighting style,” all this really means is that some people do more damage with punches and kicks, and some do more damage with “ground and pounds” and submissions. Every single character basically plays exactly the same. And for the record, grapples always do more damage than strikes, so you might as well pick the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu guy and call it a day.
Now, I’m fairly certain Supremacy MMA was designed to be an MMA game that anyone can pick up and have fun with, skipping all the technical stuff and getting straight to the violence. The problem is that getting to the violence isn’t fun at all. The controls barely respond, causing your moves to come with delay you would expect from a poor connection in an online match. You can never really tell when you are in hit or block stun, or when you can throw an attack, so the majority of the game is just mashing on the buttons until your fingers hurt. Hit detection is very spotty. Sometimes your blows will whiff for no particular reason, while your opponents will hit square even when it looks like they weren’t even touching you. You can’t dodge or block effectively, especially considering sometimes you drop your guard after a move connects and the game will still register the hit.
Then, of course, there is the slow pace of the game system itself. Since every single technique in the game has a reversal (and reversals themselves also have reversals) there are three steps before you can do anything in a clinch. This makes clinching feel like the most boring and tedious parts of the game. Eventually, you’ll figure out the big secret though: just mash all of the face buttons at once. No, I am not kidding. Perhaps the game doesn’t have a good way to handle double button presses, but if you constantly mash all the buttons in a clinch, you are effectively hitting the block, strike, and submission buttons all at the same time. Though this does sometimes make you drop your grapple early, most of the time is makes you block all your opponent’s escape attempts while pummeling him in the gut, and you don’t have to do any thinking whatsoever. It’s literally a mash fest.
By the time you’ve jumped through all these hoops and tired out your thumb to the extent of inducing carpal tunnel syndrome, you honestly don’t care that the game allows you to break another dude’s arm at the end of a match.
The suite of game modes in Supremacy MMA is pretty barebones. There is a tournament mode, a versus mode, a training mode, and a single-player story mode. The stories are all random jock schlock about fighters who had a hard time growing up on the streets or who had to fight their way out of prison just to survive. They are all pretty uninteresting, which is a shame because the motion comic/graffiti/faded paper aesthetic of the between-matches cutscenes is actually kind of interesting.
There is also a “femme fatales” mode, but this amounts to little more than blatant fan service—and not very good fan service at that. There are just two female mixed martial artists to choose from, and they can only be played in their individual versus-style modes. There’s no particular reason why they couldn’t have been included with the rest of the cast, and shepherding them into the “femme fatales” mode feels juvenile at best.
Of course, any competitive game needs an online mode these days, and Supremacy’s is one of the worst. I have yet to find a match that actually allows me to play effectively. I’ll remind you that the offline controls are already pretty laggy; adding network latency makes the game damn near unplayable.
Now, Supremacy MMA isn’t very fun to play, but oddly enough it’s a lot of fun to watch, even more so than other MMA and wrestling games on the market. The character models look great, even if they do move a bit stiffly. As fighters sustain damage, they become realistically bruised in an honestly horrific manner. Blood splatters all over the ring and bones crunch in ways you would expect to see in Mortal Kombat. In addition, particularly damaging strikes are accompanied by a slowdown effect and a drowning out of the music, which ups the dramatic tension. Unfortunately, all of these things are just distracting when you are actually playing the game. The slowdown is especially annoying considering it tips your opponent off to what you are doing, letting them block in time.
I appreciate Supremacy MMA for what it is trying to do. Honestly, a simple, arcade-style MMA fighter would probably be a big hit if done well. Unfortunately, Supremacy MMA just isn’t done well. It’s very generic, very hard to control, and it simply doesn’t hold your attention. It’s not the worst generic fighting game out there, but it’s certainly not one of the better ones. Even at its fifty dollar discount price tag, I’d say you’re fine skipping this one.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.1 Graphics
The models look good, the bruising looks real, and the story cutscenes have an aesthetic I can appreciate. Unfortunately, the animations are too stiff for the gameplay. 1.9 Control
This is one of the biggest mash fests I have ever played. It’s not “Kill everything around you just by pressing a few buttons;” it’s more “Oh my God, please do something useful before my thumb falls off!” 2.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice acting is uninspired, the music is generic rock (even though it supposedly comes from real bands), and the sound effects are the same old stock “oofs” and “uaghs” that you can get from any MMA game. 2.4 Play Value
In the end, the game is more fun to watch than play. 2.4 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best