Mixed martial arts (MMA) have been around for years, rising in popularity these last 3 decades . It takes the grace, strength, flexibility and the stamina of various martial arts, puts them together and produces some of the world’s toughest men and women out there. Like any sport, there’s video games based on it out there, the most popular one currently based on the UFC. Kung Fu Factory and 505 Games took it upon themselves to produce a game that shows the underbelly of MMA. The wanted to show gamers that MMA isn’t as glamorous as it looks through their new game, Supremacy MMA. Is this unknown contender ready for the gold? Or will it be lights out only a few minutes into its first fight?
Decent Fighter Backgrounds - Unlike other MMA games, Supremacy MMA gives back stories to their fighters. This is refreshing so that the player can have a more personal connection to the fighter other than “I’m going to kick your ass ‘cause I’m the best” or something of that sort.
Unique Overall Concept - What I like about Supremacy MMA can be split into two things: the first is the way that the game takes fighters from different martial arts backgrounds, matches them against each other and have them fight in their martial art only. For example, a fighter who has a background in boxing will take up a traditional boxing stance and throw punches only. He does have a basic floor game, but doesn’t utilize any submissions or holds. A karate master, on the other hand, will utilize a vast array of kicks, chops, punches and throws that are related to his specific art. This reminds me of the early days of UFC where they had different martial arts practitioners fight against each other. The second thing is the showing of the “grittier” side of the sport. Not everyone can afford training with professional coaches or fighters. Nor do the various leagues sign up random people from the street. Even at the amateur level it costs money to fight and get promoted as a fighter. So what do these guys do? They go underground. They fight in crudely made rings with no rules. Their only goals are rise to the top, be the best and make others realize that.
Brutal Damage Effects - Taking advantage of the fact that a majority of its fighters are not signed to a league or organization, Supremacy MMA takes the violent factor of the game up a notch and adds realistic real-time damage. Brushes, cuts and gashes start to form and grow over time. Arms and legs will start to show signs of fatigue when fighters try to kick and punch. Also since this is “arcade” style combat, moves that would normally be considered illegal are legal. Again, this plays up the underground gritty side of the sport. There were even instances that when I was caught in a leg lock and my opponent kept putting pressure on my leg untill it snapped. Now, while this might have gotten a real world fighter not only DQ’ed but banned from any MMA league/organization, it is okay in underground cage fighting, where anything goes. This is a nice change of pace.
Terrible Concept Execution - While the concept of having various fighters from a wide range of martial arts with different background stories sounds like an awesome idea, the concept is executed terribly. At first I thought that Supremacy MMA was going to take a page from EA’s Fight Night Champion’s story mode and show the rise of an MMA fighter from the harsh underground scene to the pros. Supremacy attempts to catch that same feel, but utterly fails at it.
Terrible Fighting System - Whose bright idea was to have this game be a 2D fighter? I understand that the back of the cover says arcade style fighting, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick them on a 2D playing field. MMA fights are about moving around the ring, finding the right time to strike and using the cage to your advantage. The only way to do any 8-way movement is by pressing and holding L1 while moving the left stick in any direction, which feels stiff and lacks fluidity. Striking feels just as bad and is a bit on the confusing side with some buttons doing two different actions. I shouldn’t have to press and hold three buttons (at the same time no less) and move the left stick just to do a grapple. UFC's system has hi/low attacks mapped to the face buttons while EA’s MMA uses the Fight Night total control system with the right analog stick. These two games have simple controls but allow for the execution of devastating combos and set ups. Even grappling and going in the clinch for a take down or a submission feels like a chore.
Lacks of Female Fighters - Over the years, female fighters have joined the ranks of various MMA leagues and organizations and rank as some of the toughest competitors out there. These women are just as tough, or tougher, than the guys and should be proud of it. Fights are rarely televised/promoted, so when it was advertised that Supremacy MMA was going to have female fighters, people, including myself, got excited. What we got was less than stellar. The game shipped with only two female fighters and that’s it. Wishing no offense to the two women that are in the game, but really, only two female fighters? You’re telling me that you couldn’t get women from Strikeforce, Bellator (US leagues), or even women from K-1, VALKYRIE, JEWELS, or any of the other Japanese and European leagues that have a women’s circuit? You had a chance to corner the market for female fighters, and give them their time to shine. They could have even given those who are in the indie scene a chance to shine. But instead, you blew it.
No Fighter Customization - By now character customization in the standard for a majority of sports games. Being able to change the color of the fighter’s shorts does not count. This may sound like a minor complaint, but when your competition has this feature not only in their MMA game but also in their wrestling game, that’s a step backwards.
Playing through Supremacy MMA was a terrible experience. A terrible fighting system coupled with flawed story concepts, a lack of a full female roster and no fighter customization really bring the game down. And it had such a cool concept too; taking different fighters with their own back story of fighting their way to the top. The real time damage effects were just about the only thing I truly enjoyed about the game. But even with that, I couldn’t enjoy beating down my opponent due to struggling with the controls. I rarely say this, but stay as far away from this game. Save your money and wait for a better MMA game to come by.
*This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*