The world of mixed martial arts is an intriguing place, but also a complicated one for casual fans. While many people love a good fight, they seem to like it even more if they have a better understanding of what's happening — or in the case of playing games, what exactly to do. Even the most popular MMA games, such as the ones based on Ultimate Fighting Championship, can sometimes overwhelm neophytes with the array of forms, holds, strikes and submissions.
Enter Bellator: MMA Onslaught, the downloadable arcade-style answer from 345 Games, the creators of the Deadliest Warrior games. The Bellator name might not resonate with as many fans as the UFC, but 345 Games believes the league's tournament-style fighting is a much better fit for the fighting game genre ... and therefore, more accessible.
The game features eight fighters in all from Bellator's featherweight and lightweight divisions, reflecting the league's real-life strength in those weight classes. Like most fighting games, each real-life fighter brings a variety of skills to the table, be it striking, wrestling or Brazilian jujitsu. Many of the moves carry a slightly exaggerated feel to them to give it a sense of visual arcade pop (some slams, for instance, appear to dump your opponent right on his head).
The visuals might remind many of other MMA games, but where the game hope to pull in fans is in its simplicity. The face buttons control strikes, while simple pushes of the right analog stick trigger everything from grapples to a variety of submissions.
But fights aren't relegated to a mad marathon of button-mashing and stick flicking. In addition to the typical energy meter, there's also a stamina meter that erodes with every punch, kick and grapple attempt. Overly aggressive fighters who tire out their guy will be treated to their fighter flashing red, giving their opponent the chance to beat him down or tap him out.
Another aspect of the game that 345 Games hopes can pull in crowds is Bellator's open-ended fighter creation system. It includes the full range of customizable goodies, from appearance to body type to move set. Players can also choose to randomize their created player and jump into action against others online.
Ideally, the game's matchmaking would pair up players of similar skill levels so that their created fighter doesn't get crushed by someone using the world champion (though you do get more experience if you take down someone who's statistically a little better). Feedback will also be a large part of the game's evolution, whether it comes in the form of more moves, more items available in create-a-fighter, or even more fighters.
The $15 game is slated to be available on Xbox Live and PSN this summer.
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