10 Reviews

EA MMA

Are you ready? Let's get it on!

Fighting outside the ring between the UFC and EA Sports has put an even bigger emphasis on what 2010s MMA games do in the ring.

What makes the bout even more interesting is that this is one of the rare occasions where EA Sports isn't the big-ass publisher with all the licenses and experience behind it.

What EA does have, however, is a few big names (EA's signing of UFC legend Randy Couture, for example, only fuelled the fallout with UFC boss Dana White) and a lot of experience in creating sports games in general.

In fact there are more than a few parallels with EA Sports' Fight Night - naturally, since boxing is basically MMA for wusses who don't like being kicked.

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Jabs, hooks and elbows are all achieved with movements of the right analogue stick, with flicks left and right triggering the jab. Intuitively, a semi-circle lets loose a more powerful hook. Hold L2 and the stick controls leg and head kicks.

Like UFC, clinches and takedowns are crucial and work in much the same way, but the actions are just mapped onto the face buttons rather than the right stick.

X (A on Xbox) shoots to takedown, Circle (B) sprawls in defence and Triangle (Y) grabs your opponent for the clinch.

EA MMA's stand-up game is more or less exactly the same as UFC's, then, except for the fact that actions are mapped differently across the pad. This is more significant than it sounds.

MMA feels more organic in a fist-fight - as anyone who's a fan of Fight Night will be able to relate to - because your thumb has to work just as much to throw a punch as your arm would have to in real life.

Pulling off a quick-fire, accurate combo with the thumb feels more rewarding than tapping a few buttons.

At the same time, however, striking feels slower than UFC. That goes for combos especially, because of the extra movement needed between each strike.

Both punches and kicks feel like they have far less of an impact as well, but there's a fair amount of 'snap' to strikes and on balance it's a satisfying system.

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Part of this satisfaction comes from a richness of animation and contextual sensitivity. There seems to be more impact zones on the MMA fighters than in UFC. Players can get caught by a counter-shot mid-move, throwing them off balance in a realistic way, depending on where they took the hit.

When you're in a clinch, the impact behind the strikes (or lack-there-of) dominates more, though. Knees to the head, for example, don't look or feel anywhere near as devastating as they should, although quick elbows are suitably sharp and speedy.

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There's also the option of pushing your opponent into the side of the cage, which works well with a solid thump.

GROUND CONTROL
A crucial aspect of mixed martial arts which also comes into play in the clinch is grappling, but this plays a much bigger part on the mat.

During the ground game, animations are also more detailed in MMA when compared to its rival. Transitions look a lot more complicated as the fighters make lots of little movements as they writhe for position - scissoring and blocking with feet, knees arms and legs.

As far as the mechanics of grappling are concerned, it's a case of pressing X to make a transition or Circle to prevent a transition at the right time and with enough stamina.

It takes a fair bit of time to master and it's really hard to tell exactly were the game wants you to press that button for a successful transition or defence.

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