Fighting games typically fall into one of two camps: on one side you have the over the top arcade action of a title like Marvel vs. Capcom that provides cartoonish antics with unbelievable finishing moves, and on the other side you have titles that strive for simulation and want to bring you all the realistic nuances of the actual sport they're trying to mimic. But where's the middle ground? That's where Supremacy MMA steps into ring with a new game that wants to combine the bloody, violent side of mixed martial arts with the button-mashing action of an arcade title.
Developed by Kung Fu Factory, who have worked on franchises like Mortal Kombat, UFC, WcW, and The Warriors, the game is positioning itself to be a storytelling fighting title that gets into the nitty gritty about why these fighters are fighting, and what they're fighting for. That's the key element behind the presentation and gameplay behind the title. To that end, they've enlisted former UFC fighter Jens Pulver lend both his likeness and backstory to the game.
"I was there during the early days of MMA and came up when things were just out of control crazy, so stories like mine are perfect for a game that’s taking things back old school like Supremacy MMA," said Pulver. “The truth is there are thousands of fighters out there struggling for a shot, whether they fight underground, amateur or at the highest levels of the sport. They’re doing it, and Supremacy MMA tells those kinds of stories, so I’m glad that this is the game I get to be a part of.”
According to developer Ricci Rukavina at Kung Fu Factory, every fighter has a story about how they got started, and what drives them to continue stepping into the ring even after a series of humiliating losses. You'll get to play through those stories, and each fighter will have a unique backstory to experience. You might start brawling in prison, train with someone, and then he'll put you in touch with someone else to guide you when you get out.
Venues will be diverse throughout the game, but will all be places that make sense (like an abandoned warehouse, a prison, etc.). You'll encounter mentors in these locations as well, and while many of them will be stepping stones as you play through your fighters story, they will return as locations you can fight in. They'll be scattered around the globe as well, with one story involving a Russian athlete training to wrestling in the Olympics. What happens to him when he doesn't win gold and is cast aside by his country? That's what you'll play through.
The game also promises a leveling up system where you gain experience through fights. This experience carries over and upgrades your style, although you aren't tied into one particular area of focus. If you perform a lot of snap kicks, you can level that up specifically, and your tae kwon do as a whole. Punch often? You'll gain XP in your boxing style. The game offers up the same styles that appear in most MMA fights, ranging from Brazilian jiu-jitsu to judo to takedown-style fighting.
The fighter presentation in the game has a sort of Vertigo graphic novel "In your face!" style of ink and paint, and Kung Fu is stressing that the game will be "Unauthorized. Uncensored. Uncompromising." To that end, the game is brutally violent, and has extreme finishing moves, most of which would be illegal in any ring. Crushing heel stomp to the face? There are also leg breaks in the game, which we got to see in action. It's not for the faint of heart--seeing a fighter's limb sticking out at an uncanny angle--but it happens in real life, so it's in the game.
The brief gameplay we were treated to showed two fighters squaring off with punches and kicks that looked satisfyingly real. Takedowns and pins were there as well, putting fighters into groundfights and showing how you can struggle out of a hold. Sounds were temporary, and because this is an early pre-alpha build of the title, not everything was finished. So we were missing the enjoyable *whump* sounds of a fist hitting meat. There were satisfying sprays of sweat and blood, however, and plenty of bone-crunching attacks.
Supremacy MMA doesn't have a release date yet, but it looks like it will deliver compelling storytelling through satisfying gameplay that straddles the line between simulation and arcade. Plus, you get to break people's legs. Count us in.