EA Sports MMA First Impressions - Fighting Against The Current
Written Sunday, November 22, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
To say that EA Sports’ MMA title has had an interesting build up thus far is quite frankly an understatement. That’s partly down, actually, wholly down, to the war of words that UFC owner Dana White is determined to start... a war he says that wasn’t started by him. A rejected White not only claims that EA only care about the money, not the sport, which may very well be the case, but he’s already threatened any UFC fighter signing with the title that they would get a lifetime UFC ban. Not exactly a good start for EA, or is it? You know what they say, any publicity is good publicity, especially when for once it’s not EA who are stamping their feet and pushing their weight around. Enough about that though, there is a game here to talk about.
Despite the crap that’s being thrown at them in the public domain, the EA Tiburon team remain upbeat and enthusiastic about their challenge. Tucked away in a small backroom at EA’s Winter Showcase at the beginning of the month was a build of the game featuring two of the Strikeforce fighters; Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers. Unfortunately for the bloodthirsty press, the blood was turned off for the demo, the damaged was toned down, as was the sweat. This was out of respect for the two fighters whose fight was scheduled for that weekend. According to both Development Director, Nick Laing and Designer, Rocky Rivero, these will truly be embraced and shown off in the coming months.
For those that didn’t know, EA Sports MMA is built using the Fight Night engine – the same one that created the fantastic visuals in Fight Night Round 4 this year, and this quality transfers across to the MMA title. With the character models boasting as much detail as those in Fight Night, Fedor with his scar to boot and tattoos that actually bulge out of the skin, it’s clear already that from a visual perspective, the game really is a treat to look at.
How will it differ to the UFC game you ask? Well I was quick to ask as well. “It’s about the global element of the sport,” said Rivero, “The competition are restricted to a league, we have the whole world at our disposal.” That extends to ring types more than anything with MMA including cages and rings as well, but it sounds as if they are looking to build a name for MMA, and not just the UFC. The problem there is that the globally more popular part of MMA is the UFC franchise, and if Dana White’s threats are anything to go by, don’t expect too many of their fighters to make an appearance. EA Tiburon sees this working to their advantage, but we’re not convinced, “UFC has a lot of great fighters, but it doesn’t have all the great fighters,” said Rivero. Although, throw in the well received Photo Game Face that all EA Sports games have been shipping with recently, and that becomes a little less important as you can choose who you want in the ring, rather than be confined by rosters.
There is an advantage with coming second, and that’s capitalising on where other games went wrong. “We looked at the UFC game and saw what they did well and what they didn’t do so well. Our emphasis is on, we know that people notice that stuff... the blood didn’t stay there, stick around,” noted Rivero before the quick witted Laing interjected to add, “It’s in the game.” UFC also failed to capitalise on pre-fight build ups, something that MMA doesn’t intend to miss out on, “Fight Night is a good reference for what we want to do there,” said Rivero, “They’ve set a benchmark for us, we want to meet it or exceed it.” This wasn’t a UFC bashing session, on the contrary, the team were huge fans of the THQ title, “They did a good job. That’s an honest appraisal,” Rivero was quick to add, “I think they did an excellent job out of the gate”... they just hope to go one better, that’s all.
Whilst the game may be shaping up to be an impressive bit of eye candy, it’s hard to see what they’re doing with the genre that THQ & UFC didn’t do earlier on this year. Being hands off, that was always going to be the case though. It’s all well and good trying to embrace MMA as a sport and not being confined to a franchise, like the UFC, but the simple fact remains, most of the game selling names are going to be fighting in the UFC game year in, year out. Maybe the licenseless EA will finally realise how Konami and PES feels every year. It’ll have to do what Konami did for years previously... and that’s blow us away with their gameplay.
EA Sports MMA is set for a 2010 release.