Games like UFC Undisputed 3, EA Sports MMA, and Street Fighter X Tekken have more in common than the fact that they involve a lot of punching and kicking; they also employ complex control schemes that can be intimidating for newcomers. Developer Kung Fu Factory is hoping to address this with its recently announced Bellator: MMA Onslaught--a mixed martial arts game coming to Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network later this year that, if nothing else, is easy to pick up and play. We had no problem stringing together impressive-looking combos during a recent demo, but we won't be trading in our copies of the aforementioned fighters anytime soon.
Nor are we expected to do so.
Kung Fu Factory and publisher 345 Games consider Bellator: MMA Onslaught to be complementary to more complicated games; the fighting game you boot up when you want to play against friends with no experience in the genre, perhaps. There's single-player content in there as well, though it's in the form of tournaments featuring eight of the Bellator organizations toughest fighters. There's also a Path to Glory career mode in which you level up a created fighter and progress from fights in gyms to events in packed arenas. You'll also earn experience points for your fighter when competing with other players online and, as you do so, you'll get to add more moves from multiple fighting disciplines to your repertoire.
We didn't get to see any of this during our demo, though. Rather, we got to participate in three two-player fights featuring Bellator featherweights Joe Warren and Pat Curran, none of which lasted more than a minute or so as our attempts at blocking proved unsuccessful for the most part. Throwing punches and kicks using face buttons mapped to limbs could hardly have been easier, and using the left and right sticks to move and grapple was also intuitive. None of the moves felt particularly impactful, though, and resolving submission attempts by mashing the face buttons was far from satisfying. Even knocking our opponent out in the one fight that we won wasn't particularly exciting.
Bellator: MMA Onslaught is still very much in development, and it's clear that the team at Kung Fu Factory has plans for the game that simply weren't evident in the demo that we played. There was talk of a feature that will let players know when it's a good time to counter opponent's attacks and talk of TV-style presentation throughout, for example. Hopefully, all of the planned pieces will fall into place in time for Bellator: MMA Onslaught's summer release date; that seems a tall order on the evidence of what was shown behind closed doors at GDC though.