Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted Review for PS Vita

Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted Review for PS Vita

A Mixed, Muddled Atrocity

The original appeal of MMA came from what the name described: Mixed Martial Arts. Early UFC competitions were more about a meeting of various fighting styles than the conditioning battles of today’s productions, the first eight conducted with a tournament bracket that would crown the ultimate winner only after he had fought his way through multiple matches. It was more bloodsport than boxing, with as few rules as possible, no safety equipment to speak of, and a complete lack of weight classes.

Supremacy MMA wants to be a return to this forgotten era, one that the current UFC would like nothing more than to sweep under the rug and leave as ancient history, undisturbed. Whatever your feelings on that decision, or attitude toward UFC head honcho Dana White, I can assure you of one thing: Supremacy MMA for the PlayStation Vita is not the way to relive that past.

Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted Screenshot

We already reviewed the console versions , but the Vita version of the game, dubbed with the extremely ill-fitting subtitle of “Unrestricted,” contains a few new features and fighters. These new fighters represent Jeet Kun Do and “Kung Fu” by way of Novell Bell, “The Black Taoist.” His website cites experience in multiple classical styles of Chinese martial arts, as well as in modern San Shou competition. He cannot save this train-wreck of a game.

The new touch controls don’t, either. They relegate all actual combat to the touchscreen and rear touchpad in extremely awkward combinations, but still require one to move the left stick to navigate the ring or choose between strike heights. It’s both unintuitive and obscenely unresponsive; in the end, it’s best not to bother and just look to the face buttons for your mashing needs (and you will be mashing, but not for the reasons you’d expect). Shaking the system when the adrenaline bar is full does, as advertised, activate rage mode. So there’s that.

The core fighting action, though, is atrocious. It feels muddy and stiff, with tremendous delay on each and every input. It’s almost impossible to tell which button press caused which movement from a fighter, so strategic attack quickly goes out the window. It’s based on the same basic idea as Dead or Alive, with individual buttons for punch, kick, grapple, and parry. Parrying is only divided between high and low, though, which makes it absurdly easy to counter all strikes (except leg kicks, which do negligible damage to a standing opponent). The computer will spam this. It will spam this even in the tutorial mode, which doesn’t actually give you a chance to try out your techniques.

Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted Screenshot

What’s strangest about the fighting engine, perhaps, is that all fighters have a full arsenal of strikes, throws, and submissions regardless of style. Things look different, but all fighters play more or less the same, with their style determining whether they do more damage through striking or grappling. Grappling is absurdly easy in this game, though, with a basic takedown demolishing a sizable chunk of the opponent’s health bar. There is no reason to play as a striking style, unless you’re a masochist. Notably, the A.I. pretty much limits itself by its fighter’s style. Strikers will hit you a lot; grapplers will initiate takedowns until you’re dead. Oh, you can counter them (if your timing is very good; the window is much tighter than on strikes), but it’s kind of moot since the computer will just parry your follow-up strike (grappling styles, by the way, automatically counter with takedowns).

It ends up feeling segmented, as it’s all too easy to see the seams between the various systems at work. As you input commands and the fighters act, they are forced, by each action, to transition from state to state; there’s nothing organic about it, no fluidity. It doesn’t convey the illusion of realistic combat or even human motion. You’ll catch yourself pounding the buttons not to fire off a rapid stream of attacks, but in hopes that something akin to what you’re trying to do will actually happen at some point, on screen. It’s all very stiff and awkward. Sadly, that’s also a good description for the graphics.

Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted Screenshot

Yes, the graphics—the best part of the console versions of the game—are inexcusably bad. Everything is washed out and blurry, with flat textures and dull lighting. There’s the occasional blood-spray, but the brutal bruising of the console versions is wholly absent, and the fighters are barely distinguishable from one another in appearance. Bones still break when a fighter is knocked out, but since they look like mannequins anyway, it carries none of the impact or gross-out factor of the console original.

On top of it all, Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted is saddled with interminable load times. It has to be a full minute before a match actually comes on, during which you are relegated to reading general tidbits of trivia about your chosen fighter’s style. Sometimes it throws advice about a game mechanic in there, but rarely.

Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted Screenshot

The one saving grace is the sound. Impacts generally sound satisfying and meaty, and the crunch of a damaged limb after a successful submission attempt is cringe-inducing in the best possible way. It’s too bad that ending a match with a submission is met with almost no sound at all, as though everyone in the ring is just passing peacefully off to sleep with the fading of the final bell.

Supremacy MMA’s big feature, the one thing it really aimed to bring to the table, was over-the-top brutality. Fights could end with a shattered limb or a broken neck, fighters growing increasingly bloodied and bruised over the course of a match. There was some guilty entertainment value to be derived out of that. The Vita version can’t even display tattoos properly, much less bruises and physical deformation. All that’s left, then, is a barely functional fighting game that flubs even the basics of control, introducing no depth or complexity to its haggard and unresponsive control scheme.

The fighters look like dolls, animate stiffly, don’t have textures to speak of, and aren’t even colored correctly. This version of the game possesses none of the visual punch of its console brother. 2.0 Control
Stuff will happen after you press buttons. Maybe not what you want, but stuff will happen. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Soundtrack is execrable, but the sound effects are meaty and satisfying. The fighters seem awfully quiet, though, and there’s an odd lack of noise at the end of a fight. 1.0 Play Value
No variable difficulty, a roster of maybe a dozen, and not all of those have a story mode. There isn’t much to do and what there is to do isn’t much fun. 1.5 Overall Rating – Avoid
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

Game Features:

  • Use touch-control system or dual-stick controls to battle PS Vita players online or via local multiplayer.
  • Choose from a roster of real fighters including PS Vita exclusives Jason Yee and Novell Bell AKA “The Black Taoist”.
  • Featuring two new fight styles, Jeet Kun Do and San Shou, you can master over 12 fighting styles including kick boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and more!

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