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MMA by EA Sports

For: iPhone
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Punching above its weight

Product: MMA by EA Sports | Developer: EA Tiburon | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: iPhone | Genre: Fighting, Sports | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1.15
 
MMA by EA Sports iPhone, thumbnail 1
At the Undisputed Fighting Championship (UFC) 116 event in July, Paul Heyman, the creative force behind the legendary ECW promotion, revealed that UFC sold more pay-per-views last year in the US than the entire wrestling industry managed worldwide.

It comes as little surprise, then, to see EA entering the octagonal Mixed Martial Arts arena.

In this attractive, daring, yet flawed combat title EA has assembled a coterie of 24 fighters including Strikeforce sensation Fedor Emilianenko and USA-MMA’s Ken Shamrock.

Boxing v wrestling v judo v Muay Thai

Dispensing with a virtual D-pad and button setup, MMA rather innovatively divides the screen into four invisible hit zones corresponding to your boxing, judo, sambo, or jiu-jitsu fighter’s upper and lower limbs.

Tapping the top-left quadrant, for example, equates to a sharp southpaw jab, while blocking is performed by simultaneously pressing two fingers down.

Horizontal swipes towards and away from your opponent generate more powerful strikes, and, logically enough, a vertical sweep produces the uppercut.

Pinch to clinch

After landing a couple of slobberknockers, you can consider a clinching hold – initiated by pinching the screen with two fingers - either as a precursor to a takedown/submission or to establish a degree of control over your foe.

Once you’re engaged in the grapple, your only concern is obtaining the dominant position, which when grounded means staying on top, fending off counter attacks via rapid-fire pop-up prompts, and executing reversals.

Before you panic, both timely hints and a thorough tutorial are available, since the relatively wide repertoire of moves may seem overwhelming at first.

No amount of instruction, though, could convince me that tilting the handset to manoeuvre and sidestep is intuitive and anything but incredibly awkward.

Rise through the rankings

Speaking of training, the well-constructed Career mode enables you to create your own combatant and boost his attributes between grudge matches through a variety of in-gym routines – my personal favourite being the punchbag mini-game.

Without a multiplayer option, a strange and unforgivable oversight given the success of rival beat-‘em-up Street Fighter IV in this regard, it’s just as well a Challenge mode is included to soften the blow somewhat and offer unlockable content.

So, whilst EA’s MMA undoubtedly looks the part, with the company’s trademark slick presentation and attention to detail in full effect, the imperfect controls and omission of multiplayer preclude this debutant landing a knockout punch.
 
MMA by EA Sports
Reviewer photo
Richard Brown | 29 October 2010
While MMA should be applauded for an innovative control scheme, it's ultimately cumbersome. This issue and the lack of multiplayer make it an underwhelming game
 
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