A lot of folks accused us of being too nice to UFC Undisputed 2010 when it came out in May, since we did grant it a perfect score. But hey, when it comes to authenticity in an MMA-based sport, there was really nothing else that could come close. We say that in past tense because, well, nearly a year and a half after its initial announcement, EA Sports MMA is finally here. And if we were THQ and Yukes, we’d be paying close attention, because this is a franchise with extraordinary potential.
The game features a number of fighters across weight divisions, including UFC’s own Randy Couture, world champion Fedor Emelianenko, Bobby Lashley, Jason “Mayhem” Miller and more. There’s quite a few to choose from here, each with their own adaptive styles (we prefer Muay Thai and ground-and-pound, obviously) to tinker with. One thing worth noting, though, is that UFC does have more in its line-up. Just saying for the next time around, EA, expand a little. Maybe more fighters from overseas would expand the roster.
If you’re not pleased with the fighter selection, you can create your own, using EA’s expansive Create-a-Fighter. Here, you’ll craft your brawler of choice using many options, and you can even use Game Face should you have a PS Eye camera or Xbox Live Vision. From there, you’ll have the option of enrolling in MMA 101, which we highly recommend. There are two reasons for this. One, you’ll learn all the basics to the fast-paced gameplay, so you can learn what works best for you and put it right into play. Second, your instructor is the legendary Bas Rutten – and the guy is absolutely hilarious. He trains you properly and provides the knowledge you need, but he does it in such a unique style that you may never want to leave his side, even as some of the training drills tend to repeat. He’s like the Obi-Wan of MMA, but not nearly as preachy.
EA Sports has wisely implemented two styles of gameplay into its MMA product, so no one can bitch and moan about how unfair it is. You can either play the Fight Night way, using the analog stick for most of your movements, or you can switch to a traditional button style. Either way, the game is realistic and fun to play, as you’ll pound an opponent’s face and go into a takedown just like a real pro would. We also found the clinch game to be much more effective than UFC’s, as you can switch around positioning to keep your rival on his toes. There are times that the AI manages to slip out of a clinch or tap attempt all too easily, but the game’s control scheme allows you to get them back there with very little error.
Along with single player career and quick match modes, EA Sports MMA also features expansive online options. The best one is Live Broadcast, in which you can set up a time and place for your match for others to watch, while also partaking in what your buddies are doing, should you not be in the mood for a fight. It’s hardly revolutionary, but it’s very cool, and you can learn a thing or two watching others go at it. The Fight Card option is cool as well, as you can create your own dream pay-per-view and invite others to take part. The online functionality works extremely well, and we didn’t notice any lag during our sessions. A couple of mild disconnects here and there, but for all we know, those could’ve been quitters tired of being forced to tap out. Wussies!
Presentation holds its own, and shows that EA Tiburon knows how to make a mean MMA game. The fighters themselves are absolutely stunning, from the big leg kicks that could send a man to his knees to the smaller things, like wiggling their hands and fingers while attempting to escape a clinch. They look just like the real deal, right down to the victory celebrations. The arenas are great as well, particularly the overseas Muay Thai locales, with traditional logos and all. (We even prefer them over the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium.) The commentary is spot on for the most part (it’s not as good as Joe Rogan’s, but not bad at all for a debut attempt) and the sound effects hit hard, just like the MMA fighters themselves. We weren’t big fans of the EA Sports Trax, but you can always provide your own.
No, EA Sports MMA doesn’t quite topple UFC Undisputed 2010, but it’s definitely knocking at the door. For a first year franchise, EA Tiburon has done a bang-up job recreating this sport, from its exciting gameplay to its lifelike presentation. More fighters and options the next time around would be the way to go for this series. We could definitely see a real fight between these two franchises come this time next year. Let’s get it on!