PS3 Review – EA Sports MMA

October 30, 2010Written by Joseph Peterson

There is no doubt that mixed martial arts, also known as MMA, has become one of the most popular sports worldwide. With it’s ever-growing popularity video game companies have begun to capitalize on the sport’s buzz. Given the success of THQ’s UFC Undisputed, EA Sports chose to take a different route when attempting their own try at a MMA game. EA Sports MMA looks to bring in less mainstream (not UFC) fighters you may or may not have heard of, with the inclusion of the Strikeforce brand. But can EA Sports deliver a knock-out punch and compete with UFC Undisputed?

The game itself features over 60 fighters who are separated into different weight classes. These include lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight classes. The game is also slated to receive even more fighters via downloadable content in the future. Each fighter represented in the game does a great job of imitating their real life counterparts with signature submissions, punches and realistic movements.

MMA features three modes that will keep gamers coming back for more: fight now, career, and online. Fight now acts as essentially an exhibition mode. This is the mode you want to turn to when playing with friends in 2 player, or just want a quick match against the computer.

Career mode is easily one of the most enjoyable modes on the game. Players will take their very own created fighter through the ranks until they reach the top of the MMA ladder. The game allows players to make choices as they progress through the ranks of the MMA world. Throughout the career your fighter will have numerous people following his progress, even his own personal web blogger that reports on what is happening with your fighter. Also players must not only fight, but also train to improve their skill sets. The individual performance, which will be analyzed by whether you met specific goals in your training, will result in the amount of experience your fighter will be given in certain areas.

Customization is a huge part of the game, allowing you to control every aspect of your fighter from their looks to their behaviour. The typical height, weight, and appearance are all included when creating the fighter. However, the thing that really gives players a sense of ownership over their character is the ability to control everything from their fighter’s introduction to every detail of their fighting style. Boxing, brawler, generalist, jiu jitsu, judo, kickboxing, muay thai, sambo, and wrestling make up the 9 fighting styles that you can choose when making your character. Depending on the moves and stances you want your character to have, the fighting style is an important choice to make. Even those with a PS Eye will be able to use the Photo GameFace feature to map your real face to your own created fighter via a series of photos taken by the camera.

For online, the thrill of facing a new opponent every match, never knowing what to expect, keeps you on your toes at all times. Fighting in the various weight classes earns you rewards as you progress through the “ranks” of belts. There are a total of 9 belts to attain, along with the ability to try to earn the belts in the Masters Division. Also, by fighting in a division it brings you a step closer to becoming a “contender”, which allows you to challenge for a championship online. Each division is completely separate and require you to play in that division to work towards that title shot.

The controls of the game hold up rather well considering the fact that they depart from the traditional MMA themed games we have seen in the past. Rather than relying on the face buttons of the controller to do things such as strike and apply submissions, players use the right analog stick to do these tasks. Comparing the UFC Undisputed series to the new EA Sports MMA series is like comparing Tony Hawk to Skate. Though many had become used to the old face button controls, Fight Night fans will feel right at home because overall it is a great experience that delivers in every way.

Both from a graphical and audio standpoint MMA delivers one of the most immersive fighting experiences around. From the opening moments of entrances to when your fighter is celebrating their victory or reflecting on their loss you will find yourself appreciating the time and detail that is put into the game. As usual EA Sports has delivered on the audio aspect of the game. The soundtrack of the game fits the game perfectly and will have you nodding your head to the music as you browse the menus or work on your fighter. Also, a huge plus is the announcers of the game do an accurate job of announcing matches and a large variety means that things are rarely heard over and over. There were a couple of instances where they did seem to get behind on what was occurring in the ring, but this is by no means game breaking. The one issue that seemed to become an annoyance over time was the load times, which often seemed a bit too long.

EA Sports MMA is easily one of the best first entries of a new series that has been seen in a long time. The now famous Fight Night right analog control was applied to this game and it makes the game all the more immersive through the control scheme alone. Sure the game has a few hiccups at times, but overall it is a solid début from EA Sports. MMA fans should definitely do themselves a favor and give this one a look even though it is lacking the mainstream UFC label. There are plenty well-known Strikeforce fighters that players will recognize, and soon they will forget all about the lack of the UFC and focus on what matters most – the gameplay.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ One of the best MMA games to date based upon controls alone.

+ Online is a blast to play, and leveling up and earning championships will keep you coming back for more.

– Occasional announcer slowdown and loading time issues.

8 out of 10