By far the most interesting title at the Season Opener was EA Sports MMA. The game was on display in the form of a playable demo for the producers only to play, and for me to witness (Media was not allowed to video any game play).
I found the fighters in the game to maneuver and slide around just as you would expect from an EA Sports title; the fighters had a bit of the Fight Night footwork in there from what I could tell, but with more bounce and fluidness in their steps.
Visually, the venue and octagon were nicely done. The detail in the ring adds a nice level of realism, with the lighting and shadows changing dynamically on certain artwork as the camera pans in and out during the action. I know a lot of you were concerned about the lighting from the Fedor trailer – don’t worry, this game looks like it may end up with same level of vibrant colors and live atmosphere found in this year’s NBA Live 10.
Player models did take on the NBA Live smooth, yet plastic and shiny visual. The blood, cuts, and bruises all occur in real-time and progress throughout the match. The blood interacts with the mats if fighters are on the ground wrestling.
There are all the fighting styles you would expect in an MMA game, although I did not have a chance to see all of them on display. I saw mostly of mix of striking and muay thai fighting in the demo being used.
Product Manager Randy Chase gave a presentation of the game highlighting some cool features to look forward to. I especially liked the different ring types that will be available in the game such as the octagon cage, a boxing ring, and a circle cage. I expect these to appear in training and career mode.
Product Manager Randy Chase doing his thing.
Each fighter will have their own signature style as expected. Building from this is their ratings and I found the influence of the ratings to be very cool. I had a chance to speak with Randy and ask him a few questions on how the ratings system would actually work.
Chase stated that the fighters will be aware of their proximity to one another at all times during the fight – so I asked how this would tie into their ratings. Each fighter will have different levels of awareness ratings which directly affects the game play such as quick strikes and take downs that some fighters won’t be ready to defend.
A main component of the game play will be the strategy and timing. There will be three main areas of the body that will be used to categorize the fighter’s damage: Head, Mid-section, and Legs. Each designated area of the body taken damage will have different effects on the fighter’s ability to sustain his health, stamina, and power throughout the match. I expect it to work a bit like Fight Night Round 4 with the third main body area in the legs that takes damage.
As you throw harder punches and grapple more, the more stamina will be required on your fighter. This will affect the fighter’s ability to get out of tough situations in the ground game. Further, stamina was grouped into short term and long term stamina; quick strikes being easier to pull off while tired, but getting an opponent to the ground and grappling will prove very exhausting on your fighter.
While in the ground game, the EA MMA team emphasized their commitment to simulating the body movement of the fighters by mapping rumbles to the controller as moves are made. Not sure how this will work exactly, but it leads me to believe it could be used for strategy and timing to block reversals and escapes for example.
Chase told me the game was built from the ground up over the last two years. The EA Sports MMA team borrowed some basic technology that is shared amongst all of the EA sports titles, but he didn’t dive into any details – except one. Striking.
Striking in EA Sports MMA will be mapped to the analog stick just like it is mapped in Fight Night Round 4. I did not ask about any other classic one-button striking as an alternative.
Another cool aspect of the game is the knockouts. “Flash knockouts will be based on the situation – not on a dice roll”, said Chase, referring to UFC’s title. Chase emphasized that if you catch a fighter open and you strike clean, this situation will lead to a higher probability of a knockout based on their striking ratings.
The game looks promising to MMA fans, and brings a new option to the table for consumers. The competition amongst EA Sports MMA and UFC Undisputed will definitely push these games in a nice direction. I look forward to trying this one out soon, especially if it feels and moves like Fight Night Round 4, which I love.