Supremacy MMA Hands-On Preview -- Building a Faster, Bloodier BrawlerBy Kevin Kelly - Posted May 03, 2011
While I enjoy a good fight as much as the next gamer, I have to admit right off the bat that I’m not the biggest UFC fan in the world. I know, most of you out there are probably thinking, “What the hell is wrong with you? What are you some sort of pantywaist?” It’s just never appealed to me, other than watching highlight videos. The honest truth is that I just get bored easily, and if it’s not rock ‘em, sock ‘em action all the time, I’ll tune out.
Which is also why I haven’t loved most of the UFC video games out there. UFC Undisputed may have looked impressive, but the fighters drove like tanks, and the game felt like it was moving in slow motion plenty of times. I know it’s meant to be a simulation, but when you feel like you’re piloting a beef mountain through a pool of molasses, you’re going to lose my interest.
Which is where developer Kung Fu Factory is hoping to mix things up with Supremacy MMA providing a mixed martial arts game that has an arcade feel to it. The result is a game that plays quickly, and has fighters dishing out and receiving a lot more damage than would normally be dealt in a fighting game. It’s even possible to knock someone out when they have you pinned on the ground, something that you wouldn’t normally see in a fight.
Kung Fu’s Ricci Rukavina explained that the game is not meant to be a sim, nor is it meant to be a pure fighter. It lives somewhere in between both of those genres, although there is plenty in the game to lure longtime UFC fans into the mix. They’re using real fighters in the game, and their “Supremacy Stories” mode is almost a documentary-style presentation, giving you the backstory of each fighter in their own voice and native language. Presented in graphic novel format, these stories are powerful and emotional, and lead you directly into one of their fights. It’s a nice touch of humanity in a game that is all about bloodying your opponent’s face as quickly as possible.
They’re also underscoring the fact that each of these fighters brings with them a different fighting style. Everything from savate to kickboxing to judo is represented via different fighters, and it definitely changes how you’ll play the game. Stay back and dish out kicks if you use kickboxing, or block and move up close to land punches if you’re a traditional boxer. You’ll have to learn the individual styles to figure how best to attack and defend, as you progress through the game.
Controls are fairly standard for a fighting game: drive your fighter with the left stick and launch different attacks and combos with the buttons. Triangle and square punch or kick, depending on your fighter and style, and L1 + circle or X will block and counter. L1 by itself allows you to step and move, circling your opponent, while R2 will perform a charge special attack.
You’ll also build up adrenaline as you play, and when your meter is full, you can push L1 + L2 to activate your adrenaline and go into powerful attacks. If you happen to weaken an opponent’s body part (indicated by a flashing red icon on the HUD), and you finish them while in adrenaline mode, you’ll execute a brutal finishing mode that puts things in slow-motion to highlight the violence. It’s not quite as over the top as Mortal Kombat’s x-ray mode, but it’s close. We played the game with female fighters Felice Herrig and Michele Gutierrez, who are both featured in the game under the “Femme Fatales” mode, and when I brutally finished off Michele in a match, it was a bit awkward.
“We wanted to go where other MMA games and other traditional simulation games don’t go,” Rukavina said. “Maybe because they’re trying to get that Teen rating. But if you take the brutal nature of the sport out, it ends up changing the game, because if you’re making a simulation, then toning it down is not part of it. We wanted it to feel like some of the worst YouTube moments that you’ve seen.” Which means those bendy-leg broken bone scenes that you’ve seen out there will be in this game. They aren’t meant to be over the top or cartoony, but rather to reflect some of the actual violence that the sport celebrates by its very nature.
When I took the controls and played through several key matches, what really stands out is how fast the game moves, how responsive the different characters are, and how the ground game is much faster and more enjoyable than in a traditional MMA/UFC sim-type game. You can work your way out of a pin a lot quicker, get into a button mashing mini-game when you try to injure an opponent’s arm or leg, and even knock someone out on top of you if they happen to block poorly. With the different fighting styles, there’s a lot of depth in this game, including a surprising amount of combos.
Although our time with the title was brief, Supremacy MMA already looks like it will offer up much faster paced gameplay than other MMA titles, while straddling the line between simulation and arcade. With online modes, tournament brackets that feature persistent damage, and movie homages (think: Kung Fu Factory’s name), this title looks like it will be one to beat. Pun intended.
Speaking of the Kung Fu Factory, Rukavina dropped this very promising chopsocky tidbit at the end of our time at their offices: “At some point we’d love to make a Bruce Lee game. It’s something that we’ve talked about forever. The team talks about it all the time.” Imagine taking Bruce Lee and dropping him into the ring with modern-day MMA fighters. Awesome.”