E3 2010: EA Sports MMA PreviewBy Sterling McGarvey - Posted Jun 23, 2010
Since its announcement at E3 last year, EA has been dripping out details on its newest foray into the world of mixed martial arts. In video interviews, the EA Sports MMA team has laid out details such as custom fighters and overviews of the gameplay mechanics. It will feature fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture, as well as others across five weight classes.
What We’re Seeing Now:
I got brief hands-on time with MMA. I’m not as well-versed in mixed martial arts as many of my peers, but I’m very familiar with Fight Night, and that’s what MMA reminds me of most. From the right stick-based maneuvers and tactics to the shoulder modifiers for punches and kicks, my first flirtation with MMA is highly reminiscent of Fight Night Round 3, since it’s very fast-moving, and my initial counter/parry impressions remind me more of EA Chicago’s game than the most recent one.
But the focus of EA’s message for the show is less on gameplay and more on EA’s Live Broadcast feature. Live Broadcast fuses the community involvement of EA Sports titles with the audience participation-driven fun that has made 1 vs. 100 such a huge hit on Xbox Live.
As was explained to me, Live Broadcast will function as follows: Based on how you promote yourself in the community, EA will pick you up and pair you off against another fighter in a live online match that will have live color commentators and can be watched either via your game console or online at the official website. It’s a great premise that takes so many of EA Sports’ ideas about gamer involvement and pushes them out into another direction.
Fortunately, community involvement doesn’t always involve spending every waking moment playing the game online to top the leaderboards. The dev team will be monitoring the message boards for some of the best participants and biggest trash-talkers to handpick people for matches, and your participation in the forums will give you an advantage. And even better, not unlike pro wrestling and MMA bouts, you can cut promo videos and post them online for the community to vote on. If you’re picked, your video will be displayed before the fight.
To make the proceedings more interesting for gamers, EA wants to bring in fighters, celebrities, developers, and other personalities for commentary who not only know how to call moves, but describe the impact of techniques based on how hard they are to pull off in-game. In other words, a maneuver that looks simple to the untrained eye might not be a big deal, but if your thumbs have to do gymnastics, you’ll be praised for it. EA also mentioned that sponsors might be getting involved to raise the stakes with prizes, like a year’s supply of energy drink for pulling off a win.
It’s in one of the small details that I gleaned the most information. Getting picked and spotlighted is also weighted based on your match completion rate. In other words, EA Sports is rewarding you for playing instead of plug-pulling. I hope it carries over to games like Madden.
As it stands now, my brief jaunt with EA Sports MMA shows off a promising game that I hope manages to bridge the technical with the accessible. Keep your eyes peeled for it, especially if you’ve found UFC Undisputed’s learning curve to be a tad too steep for your taste.