Supremacy MMA – hands-on with exclusive gameplay footage

The first time we saw Supremacy MMA we were both impressed and slightly queasy. Just as we were watching the first footage of the arcade-influence fighter, one of the mixed martial arts brawls ended abruptly with one fighter’s leg being broken and left hanging at a very unnatural slant. Developer Kung Fu Factory is out to make its title stand out in the competitive world of MMA gaming and it certainly makes a strong first impression. When we recently saw it for a second time, we got to play it ourselves and see if we could break some bones of our own.

As we got accustomed to the controls, we learned that while this M-rated brawler definitely amps up the brutality of the sport, it isn’t Mortal Kombat. Broken bones or sick knockouts may not happen every match, but even normal finishes can be pretty harsh. As we got a grip on the combat system, every hit had a real weight to it, and the damage shown on the athletes went from slightly bloody to doused in plasma, whether it was theirs or their opponents. Supremacy exists in a much grittier world than the glossy, PPV events MMA fans are familiar with.

When standing up the fighting works on a fairly two dimensional plane, as left and right on the stick move the fighter, while up and down block with side-stepping assigned to separate button. Though you could throw leather with little care for stamina, combos were where the real damage came in, and learning the more complicated ones will be more familiar to fans of Street Fighter than UFC. Countering after a block took special finesse that seemed simple at first, but in the heat of battle took quick timing that made all the difference in an exchange.

Supremacy MMA wears its gaming sensibility on its sleeve, like in the case of having a classic health bar; once it’s out, the fight’s over. That simplicity also remains as the fighters go to the ground. In other MMA titles submissions are fight enders and can be pretty difficult to pull off, but Supremacy MMA treats them as damaging ground moves that are just part of your strategy and aren’t instant finales, making them more frequent and simpler for players to understand. Most ground situations involved very fast position changes and fighters were quick to get up, if for no other reason than to slam the other guy on the ground all over again.

Speaking of the fighters, though some are based on real people, they seem to be designed in an old-school fighter style of each being fairly specialized. If someone focuses on Judo, you should probably have him throw guys, and if he’s good at Muay Thai, you should undoubtedly keep it standing. That’s not to say all hope is lost when a fighter is out of their comfort zone, but the lines between styles, especially between ground and striking capabilities, seemed not nearly as blurred as they did in previous MMA games.

Perhaps Supremacy MMA isn’t for players with weak stomachs, but it’s out to be approachable to everyone, not just those who can make it through the 20-minute tutorials of its competitors. It’s out to be unique, and the team seems to be on the right track, as the several matches we played left us genuinely wanting more. With the June 7 release a matter of weeks away, we’ll soon know if Supremacy’s ambition will pay off, but at the very least we’ll end up with some more sickeningly sweet fight footage.

Apr 7, 2011

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