Rattling the Cage Video Game Review: EA Sports MMA

Sunday, January 1st, 2012 by Tony Reid

I understand that my review is coming nearly a year after the release of the game but please understand my situation. I am a 33 year old grown man with a real job, a wife and two kids and now a new puppy as well. Trust me, I have been dying to play all the new (to me) MMA games that have hit the market in the past two years but until December 25th of this past year I didn’t even own a video game system this side of Playstation 2. I had not played a video game in years. Wow, I am sounding older and more out of touch by the second. So anyhow, I finally talked my wonderful wife into believing that the family should have some type of video game system but to be used in moderation, of course.  So it turns out we were good kids and Santa delivered our shiny new XBOX 360 this year. Of course I bought, I mean he brought, us UFC Undisputed 2009, UFC Undisputed 2010 and EA Sports MMA. I will preface this review by letting you know it comes from a 33 year old dude who hasn’t played a video game in 10 years and partially from that same dude’s six year old son. I do apologize in advance for having some semblance of a life and not giving you a review after 200 hours of gameplay.

Even without the almighty UFC name backing it, and the talented roster it would bring, the game gets a very positive review from me. This game is basically “The Strikeforce, Bellator, promotions from overseas and everyone on a roster outside the UFC” game. With one very big exception “The Natural” Randy Couture! The initial impression I get from any game would be that graphics that I see on the screen. Sounds very lame, simple and like a comment you would hear from someone my age but without that what do you really have? The graphics, like all EA Sports games are outstanding and as life like and real as any you will find.

The gameplay is far easier to grasp for a simpleton such as myself. It is right stick for strikes as you can rotate that baby and land a variety of strikes (I was extremely excited when I threw my first spinning backfist in my very first fight). Using the left stick will create those same outcomes but in kick form. As far as the lettered buttons basically A advances and executes a takedown, B is sprawl and pressing Y will get you into the clinch. Those are the very basics and if I had the time, I’m sure I could give you more insight but I do have a wife to please.

On the ground your stamina seems to drain really quickly (that or maybe Tim Sylvia is the most well conditioned player on the game.) and the battle there is pretty fun. It’s more of a tug of war and a marathon as opposed to a sprint when attempting to go from guard, to half guard, to side control, to mount. The stamina meter plays a large role and when your stamina is shot, just like in real life, you are in deep trouble. When attempting a submission its all about that tug of war again, where you are tapping your little X button to finish the hold and your opponent is tapping it to not have to tap. As a side note I was extremely happy that I could execute a takedown very early in my gameplay. It seemed in the UFC game that I was not smart enough to figure out how to even execute simple takedown. So for my money, the gameplay and fun factor of EA ranks much higher than its UFC counterpart. I might be something of a button masher or whatever the kids call it these days but when I play the UFC games it seems like all I can do is stand and trade on the feet.

There are a few tutorials such as the MMA 101 which takes you into a fight with Mayhem and Jacare and explains in mid fight how to perform certain basic moves and holds to avoid losing your little cyber life in your first fight. There is also a very fun career mode which I just got into, so I can’t really elaborate much as I try to live my own real life. It is the meat and potatoes of the game. It offers the ability to create your own fighter, even to the point of uploading your own ugly mugshot. If you choose this option please end your life right now or get out of the house at some point this year and interact with another human being. This mode of fighter creation also offers a ton of little extras from the obvious of giving yourself a nickname to choosing the ever important walkout shirt, to selecting your walkout music, to picking your alternate fight shorts. In your career mode you will be lucky enough to train under Bas Rutten and also globe trot and pick up skills from gyms and camps all around the world. The development of your career will happen just like it would in the real world, where you ascend the ranks of smaller shows, build a nice record and advance to larger shows with better competition. This is a great starting point for the new franchise but I can’t help but think that it will go onward and upward from here, with all kinds of possible additions to this mode in the future.

The online version offers all kinds of control including creating your own fight cards and events. Again, I haven’t played it myself but here is the jist of it. You can create live online events and invite all of your other friends who have no life. You can even create smack talk videos leading up to the event. I guess they would go something like this “Yeah, I haven’t left my bedroom at my mom’s house or had any human contact for weeks leading up to this fight. My diet has been great, a lot of Mountain Dew and Doritos and my training camp went really well working my thumbs from my bean bag chair. It’s on brother!”

The roster, in my opinion, is much more fun and nearly as strong as the one found on the UFC game. Call me crazy but seeing a bunch of the guys that I watched growing on the roster up is pretty cool. Here is a quick highlight of the talent that stood out to me at each weight class:

Heavyweight- Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture, Alistair Overeem and Ken Shamrock.

Light Heavyweight- Dan Henderson, Bas Rutten, Matt Lindland, Frank Shamrock, Ninja Rua and Mayhem Miller.

Middleweight-Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Pat Miletich and Frank Trigg.

Welterweight-Aoki, Tyronn Woodley, Jay Hieron and “Hellboy” Hansen. (OK, a little soft here.)

Lightweight- Gilbert Melendez, Eddie Alvarez and Kawajiri.

Completely unrelated to gameplay or anything important for that matter was my complete and utter excitement when I heard my favorite rapper and musical artist for that matter in Brother Ali. His song hit as I was screwing around with selecting a fighter or changing a fighter’s T-Shirt or something else. I always fantasized about walking out to a Brother Ali track if I ever had the opportunity. Also, not to be overshadowed when selected your fighters walkout music you can choose Method Man’s “Bring the Pain”. These points alone make this game far cooler than any other MMA game out there.

So in conclusion (Yeah I know this isn’t the 8th grade) I told my son that I was writing this review and I wanted his opinion and what he thought of the game he simply said “Cool.” So there you have it, from a 33 year old who has not played a game in a decade and his six year old son. The verdict is in…This game is cool.