EA Sports MMA

2.0 Overall Score

Written by on November 19, 2010 in

Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, is a sport I would never even think about attempting. Luckily for myself, and the majority of everyone else out there, there are games like EA Tiburon’s EA Sports MMA to help make our dreams of being a fighter come true.  Getting a chance to play EA Sports MMA I was excited to get to know the fighting genre on my iPhone, hoping that it would increase my fascination with MMA.

EA Sports MMA is on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and iPhone platforms.  One the iPhone, the game comes with three modes; Exhibition, Career, and Challenges. In Exhibition you choose your fighter, your opponent, and where you would like to fight. This is the perfect mode for those who only want to play a single game and then be done. Career mode is for those who want to build a character from the ground up. The game starts you with a brand new fighter, allowing you to customize their name, physical looks, their fighting style, and attitude. You are limited to only 6 characters for your first and last name, so those of you with long names are out of luck. The fighting style you choose determines your fighter’s strengths and weaknesses, which shapes how you will be fighting during exhibitions. I chose a wrestling fighting style and stuck more to striking and submissions. You then fight your way to the top of your weight class, boosting your skills through training exercises, and gaining fame along the way. The last mode, Challenge Mode, is a list of challenges which are fighter specific. Most challenges will choose your fighter and opponent, as well as a special objective like KO’ing someone in the first round or defeating your opponent without using submissions. You unlock challenges as you go, with the later challenges spiking upwards in difficulty.

The graphics in the game are really nice to look at. I was surprised that an iPhone game could have such character detail.  The blood was a little too much detail for me, but the realism is what drew me to the game. The music chosen for the game also helps set the tone for the fighting and I really enjoyed the diversity of sounds and music between fighters. These good qualities, though, are far and few as the gameplay is what drags the game down.

EA Sports MMA is a clunky game. I started the game up and dove into the tutorial ready to learn the ropes. The game quickly taught me how to fight, combining finger swipes and on-screen taps. I learned how to strike, use submissions, and how to use takedowns to quickly deplete my opponent’s health. While the tutorial made the gameplay seem easy and effortless, once I jumped into an exhibition match I found that I was gravely mistaken. In my first fight I chose a fighter who was skilled in submissions and takedowns. I swiped my fingers to indicate that I wanted to sweep my opponent’s legs, followed by the game telling me to tap within the circle onscreen to succeed in pulling off the move. I tapped my fingers into the circles and the game told me “FAILED”. I then watched in horror as my opponent countered my failure and kicked me square in the face. Time and time again I fought to gain the upper hand either through submission or takedown but the game was relentless in giving me awkwardly timed commands to tap my fingers. As I fought, my stamina bar continued to fall until it was completely empty, leaving my fighter tired and useless. My opponent clinched onto me and proceeded to knee me in the face, my face bleeding from the harsh blows.

I also found that the game wasn’t recognizing my swipes. I would swipe both my fingers to initiate an escape or submission, but the game wouldn’t react. I found myself having to swipe several times across my screen just to have the game recognize my actions.  I wanted the game to feel fluid, allowing me to seamlessly transition my movements, but having to swipe my fingers so repeatedly made the game feel sluggish and unresponsive.

EA Sports MMA sounds like a great idea, but the delivery is nowhere even close to being fun. By the third fight in career mode I had gotten stuck, unable to advance because I couldn’t successfully grapple and deliver any technical moves. The problem isn’t the way the game is setup. I knew how to do the moves; I just couldn’t get the timing down. I could pin someone to the ground and start punching them, but there was no warning of when I would be prompted to tap my thumbs on the screen to defend my opponent’s attack or escape move. I would be in the middle of tapping the screen to initiate a punch when the game told me to tap both my fingers. Since I wasn’t expecting the prompt I failed to be quick enough in hitting the circles, causing my fighter to lose his advantage. This problem along with the issue of my stamina meter depleting way too quickly made these fights very unenjoyable for me. After 2 weeks of playing the game I still can’t advance any further into the career because my fighter becomes tired too quickly, despite me training him to raise his stamina, and due to the fact that the game refuses to acknowledge when I tap the screen as prompted. I even tried to not do any submissions or takedowns during one of the fights, that way all I had to do was tap my fingers, but as my opponent grappled onto  me and tried to contort  me into a takedown I still had to tap the screen to escape from his grapples.

I wouldn’t normally use “iPhone” and “Mixed Martial Arts” in the same sentence, and that is for a good reason. They aren’t meant for each other.  This game is not worthy of the $5 price tag. Although the graphics are nice, you should be paying to play the game, not to watch a fighter get his teeth kicked in. I felt severely handicapped not being able to complete the quick time commands, making this game very unenjoyable overall. The fact that the game also froze on me, causing me to restart the game, made me mad to the point where I refused to play the game for my enjoyment at all.

A copy of EA Sports MMA was given to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.


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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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