It was only a few weeks ago that we got hands-on with the Xbox 360 version of EA Sports MMA, but since the PS3 game is on the E3 show floor (and since this GameSpot editor hadn't seen the game yet), we couldn't resist taking another look at it. Clearly, there are similarities between this game and THQ's UFC Undisputed series, but if you haven't been following the game's progress since it was announced, you might be surprised how few and far between those similarities are.
That's because whereas UFC Undisputed's control scheme is quite technical, EA Sports MMA employs a dual-analog setup much like that in Fight Night Round 4. That control setup is covered in some detail in last month's aforementioned coverage, but there are a couple of neat features that are still worthy of mention here. The first is that while the right analog is used to shape and throw your punches, shoulder buttons are used to modify those attacks in three different ways. R1 targets the body instead of the head, L2 throws kicks instead of punches, and, interestingly, L1 throws feints in the hope that your opponent will try to parry your attack and leave himself open. That particular strategy proved to be useful during our fight with an EA representative who, before beating us pretty convincingly, found himself on the receiving end of some brutal ground-and-pound on more than one occasion.
Elsewhere, the controls are equally intuitive, and at least based on what we played of the game today, they make for much faster-paced combat than is typical in UFC Undisputed games. That's not to say that this combat is necessarily more realistic, but it's certainly more fluid, because the controls make it easier for one move to flow straight into another. Fighters also move around the ring more quickly than their UFC Undisputed counterparts--at least until their legs get beaten up.
Interestingly, getting out of bad situations and even reversing opponents isn't that difficult in EA Sports MMA. That's largely because your controller vibrates every time your opponent attempts to improve his position (by hitting X, or X and up on the analog stick for a major transition), which is your cue to hit the O button and deny him. That's only possible while you have enough stamina to defend yourself, though, and as we learned when the EA Sports rep turned on the visible stamina bars, it doesn't take long to tire your fighter out when you're struggling to defend yourself in a full mount, for example. In addition to the stamina bars, you'll have the option to turn on bars that display the status of your head, body, and legs. Take too much damage to any one of those areas, and you'll find that your fighter's performance is affected accordingly.
Our fight, and our time with the game, ended not with the lengthy choke hold that we found ourselves on the receiving end of (which we escaped in a minigame of sorts that required us to slowly rotate the analog stick searching for a moving sweet spot that caused the controller to vibrate), but when we got caught with an arm bar. Defending against non-choke submissions involves frantically mashing the O button, but as we found out on the E3 show floor, it does you no good at all if your stamina is completely depleted.
EA Sports MMA is currently scheduled for release on October 19, and after how much we enjoyed our time with the game today, that date really can't come quickly enough. Expect more coverage on this promising fighter in the coming months.