There’s no denying that Mixed Martial Arts has become one of the most popular spectator sports in the United States over the past decade. It’s become more of a cultural phenomenon than a sport as proven by the large number of tool bags you find wearing “Tap Out” clothing and sporting various MMA league stickers on their pickup truck windows. As the fictional sport of pro wrestling declines in popularity each year, MMA continues to garner a larger following annually for the realistic brutality and no-holds barred fighting.
Supremacy MMA from 505 Games aims to capitalize on the sport’s popularity and simultaneously distance itself from the competition like the UFC series and EA Sports’ MMA. Instead of going the traditional route of the Supremacy’s competition, 505 Games decided to focus more on fictionalized underground form of mixed martial arts.
You’re provided with a few different ways to approach the game from the very start. While there isn’t a career mode exactly, you can play through the stories of each fighter. You also have the choice of simply jumping right into a quick match or take the fight online against competitors around the world. If neither of these sounds appealing, you can also enter two different tournament styles. One is setup with a typical grand prix structure while the other is a sort of Mortal Kombat ladder setup. Two additional modes provide players with practice options through tutorials and training.
Most of your time will undoubtedly be spent in Supremacy Stories. There are a total of twelve different fighters that offer individual story lines for players to run through with ten main stories and two additional female stories added on. While the game is pure fiction, there are some recognizable names like Michele Gutierrez, Jerome Le Banner among others.
Stories are conveyed through a mix of cut-scenes and comic-styled slides that have some additional voice-overs to fill in the blanks. Despite an attempt to really flesh out each combatants story with this interludes, there’s no real depth to any of them and even the voice work is kind of shoddy. Some of the stories do contain a little reality to them, but for the most part each of the fighters’ plots is completely over-the-top fiction. But a fighting game is more about the combat than the story and 505 Games definitely didn’t put a lot emphasis on the shallow storylines.
Controls in Supremacy MMA won’t be exactly “pick up and play” for MMA fans who are used to the deep, yet accessible controls of titles like UFC 2010. The controls here are best described as overly complex and completely unintuitive. The combinations of shoulder buttons and the left thumbstick to simply move around just feel awkward. Sometimes you don’t need to use shoulder buttons, if you simply want to move left and right for example. However if you want to move freely around the ring, you’ll need to tap the left shoulder button at the same time. This gets easier over time, but makes things feel very “off” initially.
The actual attacks utilize the face buttons, but can also be modified using the thumbstick. Even after pulling up the command list from the start menu, you’ll wish you had four more thumbs to actually pull off any relevant moves. It just feels strange when you’re tapping every button in site just to get your fighter near the opponent and actually pull off an attack. There are special moves, but there are even more convoluted in design and the likelihood of you pulling them off against the computer is pretty slim. Playing online is smooth because your opponent is just as confused and frustrated as you are.
The graphics in Supremacy MMA are far from impressive to say the least. Some of the character models do represent their real-life counterparts well, but overall each model looks like it was rendered back in 2007 when developers were still struggling with the current hardware. The locations are nice and offer a variety of interesting backgrounds, but they take up far too much space. By that I mean the camera is too far away at times and this results in fighters looking to small. That combined with the difficult controls make for some boring and clumsy looking fights.
Voice work leads the audio and that’s not saying much because for the most part the audio is an overall letdown. The music isn’t bad and fits the game and culture of mixed martial arts, but the soundtrack is limited to about twelve or so tracks. The actual sound effects seem generic at best, but they do work in the game.
Overall this wasn’t the competitive MMA title we were expecting. Instead of trying to be an arcade fighter or a realistic simulation, Supremacy MMA tries to be everything while failing to really be anything. The difficult controls mean that fans of casual fighters won’t enjoy this game and the silly storylines and bad camera angles mean that simulation fans will turn their backs too. There really aren’t a lot of people who will find a game like this enjoyable and that’s a real shame because the sport is growing and we thought we had a third fighter entering the ring. Sadly it looks like the only two options will be the UFC series and EA Sports’ MMA. Hopefully if Supremacy tries to make a comeback, it spends a little time in the gym and figures out what it really wants to be.