I have been a Mixed Martial Arts fan since my Junior year of High School. Not that long in the grand scheme of things, that was only about four years ago. It was everything a High School kid could want to see; pure violence, and it was on cable TV! But as I immersed myself into the sport, I became aware that it was much more than that. When both fighters are technical it can become a chess match of predicting your opponent’s moves, leading to a back and forth war.
I studied the history inside and out, I have even gone to classes to learn the techniques (read that as one class. A very painful class. I’ll go back, I promise!). I also tracked down and played as many MMA games as I could. Most of them happened to be terrible, but that’s to be expected, the sport is still evolving.
The first Mixed Martial Arts game I can confidently say I enjoyed was THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2009. It had game systems that allowed casual players to just pick it up and have a good time, while also allowing more dedicated fans the opportunity to develop strategies. However most online matches turned into a race to see who could score a takedown and gain the dominant mount position first. I guess you could call that a strategy.
While I enjoyed and played the first THQ UFC game to death, the series began to wear on me. I played them less and less with each iteration. They felt like the same game, just with a different coat of paint. Then a breathe of fresh air was introduced: EA Sports MMA. The UFC had actually gone to EA awhile back to try to make a game, but didn’t have much luck. This led to Dana White, President of the UFC, publicly bad mouthing EA (being the business man he is, he has completely changed his tune now that he has a big bag of money with EA written on the side). But after THQ released their UFC game, the people at EA must have realized they made a big mistake, as they approached a few different MMA leagues to make their own game (mostly Strikeforce, a one-time rival to the UFC, now they are owned by the same parent company). My favorite feature of EA Sports MMA was the submission system. It was a small mini-game where the fighter applying the submission had to line up a bar over the defending fighter’s bar, which was controlled by using the analog stick. This was markedly better than the UFC Undisputed system where it basically turned into a button mashing exercise (it happened mostly in the first Undisputed game, but it was still pretty bad in the later iterations).
Given that EA has tried a few different things in an MMA game, I’m hopeful now that they have the UFC license. Thinking it over, I came up with a few things I would like to see in EA’s UFC game:
Unlockable Legends Of the Sport
Retired legend Chuck Liddel has had his likeness captured for the game, but I’m looking for them to go farther back. Though I doubt EA would get fighters from before ZUFFA, the current owners of UFC acquired the brand. I’d love to see some oldschool favorites like Don Frye, Royce Gracie or dare I say it, Art Jimmerson (Art Jimmerson is notable for fighting at the first UFC event. Wearing a single boxing glove. Against guys not wearing gloves. Needless to say, he didn’t win that event).
Maybe even stick a few notable fighters from UFC sister organization, Strikeforce. EA did make a game featuring Strikeforce fighters in 2010, after all. Again, that’s something I doubt and do not expect all that much (although, current Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez did have his likeness captured for the game. Hmm…)
DO NOT MAKE IT AN ANNUAL FRANCHISE!!!
This is the biggest point, in my opinion. EA kinda has a record of turning out games annually (who doesn’t these days), but I do not think an MMA game can stand up to that kind of schedule. There is just not enough turn over in a year. There may be a new champion, or a new up-and-coming fighter, but the rosters pretty much stay the same for a number of years. If they want to update the game, DLC would be optimal.
Make A Suitable Punishment For Quitters
A lot of games have this problem, but I noticed it the most in UFC Undisputed 2009. I mentioned above how most online matches were a race to get mount position, but can you guess what happened a lot of time when they didn’t get the mount right away? That’s right, they quit. If I had a mouthpiece for every time someone quit out of me, well…I would have a lot of mouthpieces. So yeah, do something about that, EA. It single-handedly ruined the online for me, and was enough to make me stop playing. A recent trend I’ve liked is taking frequent quitters and putting them into their own bracket. That way quitters can race to see who rage quits first instead of racing for the mount position.
If EA incorporates those ideas, I would totally be on board. As an MMA fan my voice is gospel and my thoughts grandeur. All will heed my words. My will be done. No? Fine, I just hope the online community doesn’t die like EA’s last MMA game. I’m pretty sure they even shut down that server, so that’s as dead as an online community can get.