Ever since EA Sports claimed there was no market for a UFC game when approached a few years ago, there has been somewhat of a frenzy to cash in on the sport’s popularity through video games. This is most clearly evidenced by the self-proclaimed “king of sports” EA hopping right back onto the bandwagon with their own MMA title. This newest addition to the party is Supremacy MMA by Kung Fu Factory.
Instead of simply trying to make a better version of the other games, Kung Fu Factory ditched the simulation approach and created a slightly over the top arcade experience in order to better capture the action and ferocity of MMA fighting. Supremacy MMA has a typical fighter setup, with a health bar and a special moves bar for each fighter. The latter increasing as you land hits, the former decreasing as you get hit. The fight lasts until one opponent’s health bar has been emptied. Simple enough. As with any fighting game you can hop right in and be rewarded with some success, but it takes a lot longer to truly master the game. You just have to decide if you want to be bothered to stick with Supremacy for that long.
Your fighter’s response time from your controller is good, and the fighting itself very intuitive. You will quickly find yourself improving your timing with blocks and kicks, and begin to feel pretty accomplished. Unfortunately, by the time you’ve reached this point, you’ll soon realize that this part of the game has little bearing at all on the outcome of the fight. It is impossible to do any useful amount of damage while standing, regardless of punches, kicks, head-shots, body-shots, anything. Due to this each game is inevitably won on the ground, with one fighter towering over the other and pounding them into oblivion. Shamefully, this part of the game is the most frustrating as the timing for blocks and move reversals are not nearly as responsive as they were while standing. The top fighter also has the ability to grab a body part and break it, obviously resulting in substantial damage. The idea looks cool, sounds cool, but is not cool at all. This is because your only chance of breaking out of the move is to furiously waggle the right analog stick and hope the new bar on the screen fills up before the computer’s does. If you’re playing a friend, this is a decently entertaining little race. However, when playing the computer it is a complete waste of time. Unless you accidentally start moving the analog stick before the move starts, you will NOT beat the computer, even in what are supposed to be the easiest fights. With how much the floor fighting influences the outcome of the fight, it is unforgivable to have these sorts of issues.
Again, as with most fighting games, despite there being different modes such as tournaments, a gauntlet mode, a campaign/story mode for each player, and online match-ups, they are really all the same fight just wrapped in a different package. The campaign provides a slight change of pace by giving each character a mildly entertaining and despairingly scripted background story. You again just have fights, but they are accompanied with little bits of story to set up your next fight. This ultimately results in being a half-hearted mode that really needed a few more ideas and options to flesh it out into being truly worthwhile. I also cannot comment on the online portion of the game because I spent the better part of a week trying to find a match and failing. Somehow I feel this wasn’t because of connection issues.
There are 12 fighters, with 10 males and 2 females. You can change their clothes, and men can’t fight women. Apart from that there really isn’t much difference between the characters. They all have a unique appearance, which isn’t hard when there’s only 12, and they all have a specific fighting style. The specific fighting style would be a cool addition, but it unfortunately doesn’t transfer at all into the fighter’s actual fights. You won’t gain any pleasure or advantage by trying to find a character that matches your play style, because they’re all the same. Four of the characters are real, while the other 8 are fictitious. Again, no differences apart from appearance.
The fighter and scenery graphics themselves are decent, however connecting with punches and kicks looks and feels fantastic. If there is one thing Kung Fu Factory had to get right and did, it was the fun of landing a hit. If playing with a friend, it is immensely satisfying to break an arm or land a headbutt to the nose of your opponent. I can’t praise this aspect of the game enough. By the end of the fight the fighter’s bodies are splattered with blood and deep bruises depending on where they were hit and it looks fantastic. If not stuck against the computer and dealing with bars that you can’t break out of, a lot of the fighting can be downright enjoyable in limited exposure.
As it is, if Kung Fu Factory didn’t deliver on the fighting graphics and feel of the fight as well as they did, this would have been a complete waste of a game. This one, sole redeeming factor of the game elevates it from a complete train wreck, to a missed opportunity that can still provide some human vs. human fighting fun. Just don’t expect to find the depth or replayability that the other games in the genre offer.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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