EA Sports MMA
arrived a couple days ago, but after its demo I wasn't inspired to drop my Rock Band 3 habit to experience Endless-Takedown-Attempt-flavored A.I. My lunchtime RB3 partner borrowed my copy last night, so I had a chance to crack MMA open. I started a career and ended up playing until after 02:00 this morning. Today I'm more than a little tired.
The Career mode grind is more fun than I expected. First off, in contrast to the demo, across 7 career fights and several free sparring sessions, I think I've seen only a couple takedown attempts (that weren't already part of the current training exercise).
Training mini-games are fun, but they're a little too easy after Fight Night's high difficulty bar; in FNR3 and FNR4 I can't seem to do their exercises to save my life. I get minimum points and always feel like I'm going to have to re-start my Legacy Mode fighter for having "wasted" so many chances to progress my fighter. In contrast, in MMA I get Rank A on the first attempt most of the time, consistently on the second. And your best training game performance can be re-used whenever, so there's unfortunately no need to repeat the exercise, even though they're effective at player training. It's as though EA heard players complaining about the Fight Night training exercises being boring and frustrating, took it to heart, made them fun and then ran too far with making them both easier and optional. Fortunately, more advanced ones open up pretty quickly
Clinching and takedown are a little too easy to lock in, and from clinch it's pretty easy to move the rope or cage, which becomes an overwhelming advantage. But it's problematic in the Training sessions, where the LT(away)+Y Button doesn't seem to register the same as standing clinch, but rather prioritizes pulling away from the cage in a clinch. This ends up breaking the combo, requiring the exercise to be re-done. I've learned to avoid the cage while clinched, just so I can finish my Training, but it's accomodating a hole in the control scheme.
When it's time to move to a Camp and learn additional special moves, my progress hit a wall. I went from scoring Rank A's in practice, and 1st Round stoppages in my professional fights, to having Randy Couture bitch me out ceaselessly while I try to progress from open guard to full mount. Bas may have ragged on me for a couple of biffed combos, but Randy clearly wanted nothing more to bail on my session and go get a protein smoothie. And it sounded like he was doing it over the phone, quality-wise, like they'd recorded pick-up lines using Skype. What got me though, is that I couldn't do the task. Today it dawned on me that, unlike the training A.I., the Special Move learning is probably subject to harsher completion parameters, and likely uses stronger A.I. and contests against the player-character's own skills and attributes. UFC 2010 has the same problem, where a beginning CAF has the option to attend a camp and make progress toward learning a new move, but in likelihood his skills are not going to allow him to complete the win-condition, leaving the new skill unlearned. I was entirely unable to get it, despite trying some exercises 20 times, each attempt with its own loading lag.
Speaking of which: Remember people complaining about UFC 2009's cumbersome menus and slow loading times? It is UNFATHOMABLE that I've not seen a single mention of EA MMA's loading times. God's pearlescent testicles, it takes forever to transition from your gym to the fight venue, and the fight is sometimes over within the first 30 seconds... and the trip back to the gym. And then a trip to another gym immediately if you "travel" get enhanced training. Sloooooow.
I looked around to see if any reviews specifically mentioned this, and found this link:http://www.pastapadre.com/2010/10/20/ea-sports-mma-hard-drive-evaluation
So I'll be running it from the HDD as of this evening onward. It makes sense that the reviews don't mention it if preview copies are now largely downloaded from Xbox Live via code... they're not on disc, so they're not slow. But, man, I was feeling the wait like a weight last night, and it was heavy.
Overall the game is fun. There are some really spotty presentation problems in sound and non-fighter animation (referee is weak, the ring announcer looks like a stroke victim or an animatronic doll). But three hours flew by and left me screaming obscenities at my TV in the wee hours.