They mean business.
There are plenty of decent fighting games on the iPhone but until now there have been no decent realistic fighting games. All previous attempts have focused on the arcade side of things, even the great Bruce lee game has more of an arcade slant.
Enter EA’s MMA, a fighter based on the Mixed Martial Arts tournaments often seen in UFC. Of course, EA don’t have the UFC licence, but that hasn’t stopped them coming up with a full featured fighter. The game has a full Career mode, quick fight option, challenges and full character bios. It’s pretty impressive stuff, even if the intro doesn’t fill you with confidence straight away.
Starting with a quick tutorial, the game takes you through the basic moves needed to play. This is where things start to get interesting. Instead of the usual virtual stick or d-pad controls everything is tilt or touch based. Touching the lower half of the screen on the left or the right will kick with that foot and the upper corners will punch. Swipes and longer movements will provide more powerful hits or get the opponent into a grapple.
Most matches require some ground grappling, a staple diet in Mixed Martial Arts. It is, however, possible to win using knockout blows once you’ve worn down the opponent’s stamina but much less likely in later matches than when you start out. While the controls are a good idea, the button presses for getting into and out of moves come across as nothing more than quicktime events in practice. Add in the difficulty of keeping your eye on the screen as you tilt to get out of the way and the new system starts to fall apart.
It’s not all bad, guarding is easy and the ground grappling itself can be thrilling as you pull off some bone crunching moves before your opponent gets the upper hand and everything changes, but these moments are unfortunately few and far between, coming after long bouts of kicking and retreating.
Another plus point is the customisation of your character. Starting with a basic character designer and then allowing you to assign stats, MMA makes you feel as if you were a new fighter rising up to the challenge against well respected veterans. This means that every match in Career mode that you win feels like a reward.
In addition you can train to add more stats to your fighter. The training comes in the form of mini-games which allow you to work on certain aspects. They’re all fun and easy to use and it’s well worth putting the time in as it makes the challenge of finishing Career mode easier.
Aside from Career Mode there are the usual quick fight games that throw you in the deep end and an interesting Challenge mode. Challenges aren’t always as exciting as they seem though. These are just matches with certain rules; either knocking someone out in the 3rd round or fighting against a certain challenger. It’s still nice to have some deviation from the Career though.
The lack of Multiplayer is disappointing, particularly in this day and age when Game Centre can take care of any match-making issues. This, coupled with the controls not quite living up to their potential, let the game down but MMA fans should still get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 7
- Longevity: 7
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