“Supremacy MMA” is the only MMA game in existence with a bad reputation before anyone even tested it out. Made by 505 Games & Kung Fu Factory, the game advertised itself as “the gritty world of underground MMA fighting”, featuring “arcade style combat” and “MMA legends”. Trailers for the game featured brutal bone breaks and violent knockouts, all taking place in dank, concrete pits. Definitely did not look too much like the MMA I knew and loved.
Some fans refuse to even touch the game because “it’s bad for the sport”. When I first saw the trailer for this game, I was one of those people too. However, the more research I did the more I learned that this was far from your traditional MMA game, and was trying to be something else. I wanted to give this game a fair chance, and as you will see from my review, I absolutely did. So to you, my readers, I give you the most thorough and unbiased review of “Supremacy MMA” that you will find online, and you can decide if your mind is changed by the end of it… if it needs to be changed, that is.
Hit the jump for the full review of the “Supremacy MMA” video game!
Let’s start from the top, with the very first screen in the game once you get past the opening video. The first screen allows you to choose your mode of gameplay, with immediate quickplay, story modes, tournament modes, a training gym to perfect your moves, and online play. I decided to try the “Training Gym” first to get used to the controls and see the gameplay in action. Playing as Jens Pulver, I faced off against fictional judoka Tomo Hashimoto, who proceeded to toss me around like a rag doll. The training gym basically taught me nothing, and might as well have just been an exhibition bout.
There is a proper tutorial mode, but it was actually hiding next to the options menu at the very bottom of the start screen. When I first played the game, I just assumed the Training Gym function was the tutorial, leading to a lot of frustration for the first hour I played the game. Sadly, my frustration was doubled when I tried the tutorial mode. Rather than walking you through everything step by step without an opponent trying to cave your face in, you are thrown into a fight against the computer, while every six seconds or so a new message comes up on screen telling you how to play. It’s a bit unorthodox, but the game is intuitive enough to keep up with you while you fight, and both you and your opponent have unlimited health bars in this mode.
The game controls are vastly different to what you are used to if you played UFC Undisputed or EA Sports MMA in that they are extremely simplified for that arcade feel. For Xbox 360, X punches, Y kicks, B counters most everything and A also counters things. To block, you press the left trigger button and a direction to guard your face, body or legs. You can also feint with the right shoulder button and side-step with the left shoulder button. The joystick moves your character forward and back, but moving to the side is pretty much impossible. If you want to move around in three-dimensions, you have to use the side-step function, making this much more like an arcade game rather than a full-on MMA game, but we will talk more about those controls in a bit (trust me, I have plenty to say about those).
There are twelve male characters to play as and two female characters, making for a total of 14 characters. Yup, just fourteen. Shane Del Rosario and Bao Quach were both available when you pre-ordered the game from various outlets… well, to play as them anyway. In the ultimate “F-U” to gamers, the characters are already in the game but you can not play as them unless you pre-ordered. Making it more disheartening, you fight them in the story modes but you still can’t play as them unless you pre-ordered. So if the characters were there to begin with, why make them DLC and not add someone or something else?
The game features a smattering of real fighters, including Jens Pulver, Jerome Lebanner, Malaipet, Shane, Bao, and our two female fighters. The rest are all fictitious, but they might look vaguely familiar to many. The main BJJ guy is named Demian Reis, making him one-half Demian Maia and one-half Wilson Reis. Pierre Matiss is a master of Savate, and nearly identical to Georges St. Pierre. Even Sokodjou is playable as Dante Algeary. When Mariano Mendoza beat me, he did Tito Ortiz’s famous grave-digging, when Dante Algiery knocked me out (by kick to the arm no less), he did Bas Rutten’s jumping-split. Little nuances like this show that the developers did their homework, enough to placate most MMA fans. The fictional fighters seem to be stronger than the real life fighters sadly, which is problematic, but we will get more into those mechanics later.
Each fighter has their own unique story mode in the game to add some personality to them, and I admire them for adding that. The cut-scenes are all flash cartoons with flat vector cut-outs, the same art style you see on the package of the game, but just a shade of yellow that makes me think they soaked the characters in a bath of urine. The stories themselves are interesting, but the voice-over acting is laughable and the writing is very cliched. They were trying to be tough and profound at the same time, but it sounds like dialogue from a Hector Echavarria movie. The female fighters have their own storyline, and it’s quite pathetic honestly. You choose between Felice Herrig or Michele Gutierrez, and basically fight each other for a length of time. Very weak, and generally pointless since it’s simply a series of matches with the same fighter again and again and again.
One of the cool things about the game is that you can gain experience points and level-up the more you play with the characters. Each one has a separate experience bar and can gain points when you play as them and win. Unfortunately, the experience points only let you wear different pants when you play (yes, pants, since you can wear jeans or orange prison pants aside from a few pairs of board shorts for each character). The experience points do nothing else to add to the game other than allowing completists to collect more achievements.
The graphics in-game are nothing to write home about. There are some nice colorful environments in the dozen venues you can fight in, and a few different costumes for each fighter, but the look of the game is not very polished and feels dated. Fans of metal music will quickly enjoy the music in this game, performed by bands like Emmure, Bury Your Dead, Aenimus, MOAB, The Rose Line and Destrophy (most of which will probably be names used for MMA gear companies at some point). If you are not keen on the rocking riffs, you can lower the music during the game at any point, but the music will be the least of your concerns.
So this is where the reality comes into the game, and that is the glaring problem of the controls. I want to call them arcade style, in that they require a heck of a lot of precision to get them right, but really they are just sticky. When I first started playing, I thought my controller was broken and swapped it out for a spare since my character was not really moving around well. Sadly, I realized it was not the controllers that were messing up. Once you get used to the limited range of movement, you then notice how difficult it can be to execute combos. Again, this is due to this arcade style of combat where you are basically performing a special move in order to do a combo, as opposed to the style of UFC Undisputed where you chain up your strikes like a real fight. If it was an arcade game, we might think it was a button masher, but it’s barely that since the controls are so stiff, combined with the quicktime button events to block and counter moves. The game just can’t decide what it wants to do, so in essence you have three ways to block things, but in reality none.
Furthermore, since this is not really MMA, position on your opponent means nothing. I can be in side control as Ilya Klimenko controlling the fight, but Jack Saxon will be punching me from on-bottom and doing me just as much damage as he would on top (which ultimately caused me to lose many fights). Bas Rutten VS Kevin Randleman this is not! For fans of wrestling characters, you will be very disappointed to know that there is absolutely no way to shoot for a takedown. All throws are done from the clinch, although every now and then I pulled off a diving takedown from a recovery from being tossed on my butt, but I have no idea how I pulled it off. Grappling is as easy as the push of a button, and then a mini-game kicks on where you wiggle your joystick to see if you can pull off a submission. In “Supremacy MMA”, subs don’t end a fight, they simply do damage. You can tap an opponent out if their life bar is empty when you do a sub, but they otherwise just cause your opponent to lose some life points. I liked that at first, because I really disliked how I could be instantly tapped out in other games, but the novelty quickly wore off when I saw how much more damage strikes did than grapple moves.
Coupled with unbalanced fighters, this can be a very frustrating game. Strikers have a huge edge over just about anyone else, especially with that added annoyance I mentioned in the above paragraph. Some strikers are stronger than others, and the ones with long distance attacks are the deadliest (hence why I got my butt handed to me by Pierre Matiss when I played as Malaipet in about thirty seconds). Submissions just don’t do nearly enough damage to counter how powerful strikes are, and it takes much more work to ground an opponent and grapple than it does to just stand and bang. So if they focused so much on the striking, you think that would be perfect, and it’s fine if you plan on brawling like Frye VS Takayama. Blocking strikes is an arduous task and hard to do because of those quicktime events. You can never really tell when you just block with the block command, or use the B or A button. Even when you press the command to block, chances are the game will not recognize it and you will get hit anyway. Fighting games need to be responsive, or at the very least have controls where if you mess up you know it’s your fault for not doing something on time. With “Supremacy MMA”, you know the game is not paying attention while you are busy yelling at it and wrapping the cord of your controller around your neck in rage.
What about those fatalities of breaking bones that you saw? Those are not that common and, like everything else in the game, hard to pull off. To snap someone’s leg in half, you have to continually attack that limb until you force it break as a knockout. I have yet to do it and don’t plan on trying. You do get a Matrix-style scene when you knock someone out, but instead of looking dramatic and bloody, it’s purely a slo-mo close-up shot of the in-game action and nothing more. I saw a lot of this when playing as Felice Herrig – her character would get knocked out but her face would not distort like in other games, instead it just had a dull lifeless look with uniformed-size cartoony balls of red jelly that are supposedly blood flying around her.
This is not your average MMA game, in that it really is not MMA at all. I believe this started out as an underground fighting game and transitioned into an MMA game when the company believed there was a chance for corporate tie-in’s and sponsorships. How do I really feel about the game? I will let Jay Sherman from “The Critic” explain it to you in the most succinct way I can think of:
The game is trying to be an arcade-style fighting game while masquerading as an MMA game, and it fails at both. For those worrying that it gives MMA a bad name, have no fear since this is MMA in name only and not in function. This game is a lazy mash-up of two different games that were squeezed together into one cluster of confused awfulness. The story modes were deeper than I expected (for the men at least) but the gameplay is too inconsistent to keep me enthusiastic about playing them all. While the simplified control scheme could have been an asset to the playability of this game, it hurts it far more and saps much of the fun out of it (especially when the gameplay glitched out, which it did frequently).
I really wanted to review this game and be able to tell you all that the game was good, and that you should not judge a book by its cover. I was mistaken, and while this game has some moments of lucidity, it’s still a drunken mess that needs to go back into rehab. With some work, the game could be good, but for now, it’s mediocre at best. Why play a mediocre street-fighting/MMA game when you can play some good ones? It’s just missing too many pieces that should have been in the game to start with, and had they been, the game would be much more fun.
You can buy “Supremacy MMA” video game for XBox 360 or for Playstation 3 on Amazon.com for around $50, and I suggest saving that money for something else or buying it when it’s cheaper. I recommend this game as a rental for a weekend to try it out and see if you can get into it, but it is far from a must-buy. The game is playable when it wants to be, otherwise I would have thrown in the towel much earlier during my review, but it is still far from good.