I like fighting. Whilst I’ve never physically fought anyone, I still enjoy watching two men in an octagon pummel one another. Yes there’s something primitive about it and yes when you are watching two grown, sweaty men rolling around on the floor in nothing but shorts it may hark back to the dark ages somehow; but it’s actually tactical, brutal and the evolution of sports that have lasted the ages.
Although the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is relatively new, its roots are traced back through centuries, as it combines aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling, boxing and other fighting styles.
The sport was popularised by the philosophies of Bruce Lee in the 70’s and gained major popularity when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicked off in 1993. It’s ok if you missed it. You were probably too busy playing Wolfenstein 3D or the original Mortal Kombat. I know I was.
After a few years the sport blew up in Japan, got a major following and continued to grow around the world. Now fighters like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin are household names, with fight highlights regularly appearing in sports news and cameos in television and movies (Chuck has appeared in Entourage and The Simpsons among others).
Naturally once a sport gets big it needs to exploit its fans with as much merchandise and cross media deals as possible, so in 2009, UFC 2009 Undisputed was released on major gaming platforms. It rocks my world.
As mentioned earlier, I like fighting. This game, and its sequel UFC 2010 Undisputed, create a very real MMA experience, allowing you to be strategic while unleashing brutal attacks on your opponent. Although it’s detailed and intricate controls can put many people off (this game isn’t for button mashers) and its multitude of menus and pop-up screens can be annoying (how many ways do you need to tell me you are saving?) the gaming experience is rich and enjoyable.
An outstanding introduction to MMA and the UFC, Undisputed allows you to play as one of 82 fighters in a range of weight classes, start from scratch and create your own fighter to rise through the ranks of the UFC, or even recreate real fights such as the sensational Griffin vs Bonnar Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale in order to gain bonus features.
To successfully recreate fights you need to play as per the original fight, meaning you might have to throw a flurry of punches and kicks for 15 minutes and win by judge’s decision or you might have to win by rear naked choke at 2:19 of the second round.
Unlike some of the better sport games, UFC Undisputed was released by THQ. The reason being is that EA Games allegedly had no interest in supporting a franchise that wasn’t a real sport (mmajunkie.org).
Funnily enough, with UFC, MMA and the UFC Undisputed series exploding in popularity in the last five years, it’s no surprise that EA Sports have now come to the table with their own offering – EA Sports MMA, which was released this week.
The production of this game has infuriated UFC President Dana White, resulting in a UFC blacklisting for any upcoming or existing fighter signing their likeness over to EA Sports.
Time will tell which series will be more popular – while EA Sports MMA has the EA Sports label, UFC Undisputed has the popular fighters and the support of the UFC. For many it will come down to content and characters but for others, the simplicity of game play.
I for one just want to pummel (but only with my favourite fighters).
What gaming do you prefer – steep learning curve with a realistic payoff or a simple game with the expected results?