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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

EA Sports MMA - Xbox 360/PS3 game review

Been a bit since I had any new reviews. Between the holidays and getting lost in a handful of very cool games, I haven't been at my cpu quite as much, but here's one that I've spent a couple of weeks on:

EA Sports MMA is a very different kind of fighting game. THQ’s generally well-received UFC game has been the sole occupant of the MMA space, and though I haven’t had a chance to play that game, I went more than a few rounds with EA’s MMA game and here’s my general thoughts on it.



Graphics – 8:

The overall motions look pretty smooth, and while I’d like to see a bit more variety in the styles overall, cosmetically there’s a lot you can do to give your fighter a unique look. The graphics and controls both reminded me of EA’s excellent Fight Night series as well. The replays look awesome and can be fun to save and watch later. The overall menus are nothing special, and the venues look okay at a glance but also don’t do much beyond that to impress. You can get bit hits in that have a nice disconcerting effect on the visuals and sound, which is nice. It might have been interesting to see physical development for your character, like a higher grade of muscle tone as they improve in certain areas, just to give the fighter a slightly more dynamic appearance over the 40 matches of your career mode.



Sound & Music – 8:

Plenty of good tunes make up the sound track, and the commentary and crowd sounds are pretty nice – though often repetitive. It’s a common trend with sports games – the commentary is very cool early on, but after awhile you’ve heard pretty much all of it. There’s not a lot of ring sound in and of itself, though. It seems like there could be some more in-ring sound effects to help vary things up, and I would love to see an extended commentary.



Gameplay – 7:

This was a tough one for me. I liked the overall scheme. The stick system was very reminiscent of the Fight Night games where you use variations of right-analog stick movement to make your strikes. Unfortunately sometimes it is just about impossible to pull off a specific move, no matter how many times you’ve tried. Most of the time the controls are good, but when they’re not responding the way you feel like they should, it can be very frustrating. The layout and pass system on the ground is pretty cool too. That said, the computer can be frustrating beyond belief during some of the training exercises, and it feels like people and the computer can somehow just button mash during the ground game. What’s disappointing is this game is not meant to be a button masher. The game is at its best when it’s experienced as a game with give and take, the fighting having a sort of ebb and flow – especially the wrestling components. The online connectivity was good – I almost never experienced any significant lag from it. Matches of al kinds seem short – it seems like either I win quickly or lose quickly, and the game does have a ton of load times. They could use some more load screens and dialogs, because you do spend a good chunk of your time staring at them.



Intangibles – 8:

The career mode was my favorite. They did a great job of making the training exercises something that once you get them perfected, or as close as you think you will be on one, you can then simulate them to get the full effect. In other similar titles, like Fight Night, you have to do the same repetitive training motions every time, and if you sim it you only get half credit, which is frustrating. This speeds up the affair a ton, which helps to compensate for the painfully long and frequent load times. The online mode has quite a few options to keep things fresh and the stable of fighters included is pretty solid as well. The accomplishments are by and large pretty easy to get overall, if that’s something of particular interest to you.



Overall – 7.75:

It’s a good game, but it could be better. For a first effort it’s definitely a series to keep an eye on, and with some additional polish to the career mode in particular, it will be a series that could gain popularity, just like the sport it is based on. The graphics, sound and commentary could use some touch up, and the presentation could use a bit more depth in the career mode (there’s a blogger of sorts who chronicles your progress with these big written posts. Not bad, but it feels like it could be a bit deeper on all fronts). I enjoyed it quite a bit and played it heavily for a couple of weeks, though the career mode and free fight did start to wear thin after that. The online mode helped to sustain the game’s value as well.