A Taste of the Fight: EA Sports MMA

Mixed martial arts, with increasingly more media attention in the past few years, is known as the grueling sport involving two fighters in one ring. It's exciting to watch and probably even more exciting to play. Now any enterprising fighter can engage in the sport without risk of injury.

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Though in recent years the mixed martial arts—or MMA—field in sports video games has been dominated by the UFC series released by THQ Inc., one of the more visible alternatives is EA Sports MMA, developed by EA Tiburon for PlayStation and Xbox 360. The game features stunning attention to detail and is packed full with features.

There are a few glitches and downsides in the design, however, that can throw off some players' experiences. Most noticeably, the fact that gameplay is controlled via analog stick—the default for high-action games like this, but nevertheless, something that can pose a significant barrier between recognition and actual reaction. For players who are used to the system, though, the directional control method should be intuitive enough to get comfortable with after a few playings, even though the precision of the control isn't great and punches and kicks tend to lag or spiral out of control. For those who don't want to use an analog stick control, there's always the traditional button-smashing method of playing, but that often results in choppy and broken gameplay that could really deter a few players.

Disregarding the controls, though, the game is well done and extraordinarily detailed. The attention to detail is what really makes EA Sports MMA come alive, and it's clearly noticeable even to players who have no past experience watching or playing the mixed martial arts. Tiny things, like the angle of a punch or the position of a knee on the ground, can affect the power of a swing; a player can even pin his opponent down on the ground by one wrist much like in real life, affecting his rival's defense ability. When on the ground, the strikes and passes are realistically rendered as well, only adding to the believability of the situation EA Sports has created.

The game's many modes also allow a player to deviate from traditional American rules—here, EA Sports creates a game that teaches how fights don't have to be fought in the ring. Choose to switch out for the typical British square ring, and try out your skills without being caught in a corner. A player can even choose to go into vale tudo mode, Brazil's favored martial arts style, a 20-minute round of pure fight that's sure to satiate any fighter. The versatility and design of this game, even in a field dominated by THQ, will definitely appeal to players hoping to get a taste of MMA.


EA Sports MMA. EA Games.

Dylan Young is an avid gamer and has reviewed numerous video games. He is a competitive Team Fortress 2 player.

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Updated Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012