Now that you have your fighter's physical attributes and fighting style picked out, it's time for some action. Before jumping into the ring for an official fight, you must train. You'll get to learn from some of the most experienced trainers out there, such as Bas Rutten, Randy Couture, and more. You'll also have the opportunity to visit gyms across the globe in places like Brazil, Japan, the United States, and Thailand so you can pick up new techniques and pointers along the way.
The training aspect in EA Sports MMA is quite solid, and it allows you to learn and perfect the vast variety of fighting moves in the game. Training is also mandatory, and you must train for eight weeks between each of your pro fights. Luckily, the training challenges are quick to complete. Once you perfect a challenge, you can simulate it the next time around. Even though you are just simulating it, completing challenges week by week help to improve your fighter's attributes. The challenges differ and are aimed to help you improve different aspects of fighting, whether offensive or defensive. In all, there are 25 different moves to choose from. You get to pick 16 for your arsenal, so how you mix and match them is very important in defining your success.
Executing moves while fighting is a real joy thanks to the games control system. It's very similar in form to the controls in EA Sports' Fight Night boxing series. The analog buttons are used for punches and kicks, and the way they are set up to function is so intuitive that it gives you complete control over your fighter's body. The controller's face buttons are used for other moves, such as takedowns, submissions, and more.
These are the default controller settings, but you can switch them to work in the opposite manner. The way EA sets it up by default, however, is really the way to go. Since the controls may be too much to learn in the beginning, there is a MMA 101 option in the game that you can use to help you learn the basics.
The developers of the game added a sense of realism in the gameplay with solid AI. Unless you are in the easiest difficulty setting, you will have to fight with a strategical mindset. You won't beat a fighter by mashing buttons over and over again. You will have to manage your moves and your stamina equally. Since there are so many different fighting styles, you are also forced to study your opponent to identify strengths, weaknesses, and how to attack them. Even if you are down to your last drop of stamina, using proper strategy and perfect timing can help you come back and win the match.
The presentation of the game is superb. Fighters look and move realistically. You can even see their muscles flex. Arenas get packed with excitement and plenty of raucous crowds. You can fight in a ring, a circular cage, or a hexagon. Each match is complete with entrance music, ring girls, and more to get you amped up. There is also commentary by actual MMA commentators.
Last, but not least, is the online aspect. You can test your skills against other gamers, which is much more fun than playing the computer. You can choose your career mode fighter, or from a wide selection of actual fighters, including Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko. Winning a match will help your ranking, and you can strive for different title belts. You can also create your own fight cards with up to ten players. There are even occasional live broadcasts between online players that others can view. The live broadcasts come complete with live commentary as well.
Although EA Sports MMA is not for everyone, lovers of the sport will definitely get a kick out of it. It comes with plenty of excitement, realism, and an excellent control system that make you feel like you are part of the real thing. Any MMA fan should pick this title up and get to training immediately.
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