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Old 07-07-2010, 09:29 PM
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"What EA Sports MMA Needs to Succeed "

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For the longest time, fans of MMA were left without a video game to call their own. With the release of UFC 2009: Undisputed, MMA video games have made a triumphant return. Fans of MMA and video games have it especially good in 2010, as publishing juggernaut Electronic Arts is set to launch “EA Sports MMA” in 2010, featuring a roster that includes Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture, and countless others from both Strikeforce and the Japanese-based DREAM promotion. But can it topple UFC Undisputed 2010 and become the marquee franchise in the MMA video game market?

I found myself having an intense love/hate relationship with UFC 2010: when the game works, it’s a wonderful recreation of an actual MMA fight. When it doesn’t work, the game is an infuriating, controller-breaking mess. If done correctly, EA Sports MMA has a good chance of toppling THQ from the MMA video game throne. Looking forward, here are a few key factors I think will influence EA Sports MMA’s chances of success.

The first and all-important factor is the gameplay. The game needs to be equal parts fun and challenging: “easy to learn, difficult to master” comes to mind. There have been a few details revealed about how the game plays, but I’ll reserve judgment until I have the disc in my Xbox and a controller in my hands. But I’ll say this: EA MMA should try its absolute hardest to do away with the cheap gameplay mechanics that makes UFC 2010 such a chore to play.
If a fighter does nothing but spam takedowns, that fighter should have his stamina depleted if those takedowns are consistently blocked. I’ve lost count of how many times I would block a large number of takedowns from a takedown spammer in UFC 2010, only to get caught with one last takedown as I was trying to counter and end up getting KO’d or put into a submission. Speaking of counters, reversals should be incredibly difficult to pull off, and should only be available to high-level grapplers. In UFC 2010, the reversal system is so broken that nine times out of ten my online opponent will do nothing but sit in my guard and wait for me to try and break free, so he can reverse me. It makes for a boring, incredibly frustrating fight, and if EA MMA does away with it, they can count me in as a paying customer.

Speaking of online, a fluid and diverse online mode would be a fantastic way that EA MMA could pull ahead of the Undisputed franchise. Upon its release, the online in UFC 2010 was downright broken. Even with a number of patches since its release, I’ve still encountered game-breaking amounts of lag in several online fights. Not only that, but the Undisputed online mode is relatively weak. Fight camps were a good idea, but vastly under-utilized. If EA MMA can provide a robust and completely lag-free online mode, I think they could easily pull ahead of UFC 2010.

I think a good story/career mode would be the final piece of the puzzle that would make EA MMA better than UFC 2010. I want to actually care about my Create-a-Fighter, I need much more back-story than just an up-and-coming rookie trying to make his way to the top. Give me the ability to fully interact with my trainers and partners, give me fully interactive cutscenes, interviews, and weigh-ins, give me an honest-to-goodness story mode with branching paths. I need more of a reason to give a crap about my fighter other than the fact that it’s cool to see something I created go toe-to-toe with an actual MMA star. If EA MMA can deliver a career mode that’s truly worth playing, it will set a precedent that the Undisputed franchise would have a hard time trying to top.
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