Cage fighting is no longer an underground interest, since we now have two big leagues on television. One of which is Mixed Martial Arts. I can’t say that I know much about cage fighting, outside of the fact that it’s always been entertaining to see two opponents go into a confined location and see who comes out on top; Hail Caesar! As I spent time with Supremacy MMA Unleashed, I searched for the plausibility for this cage-fighting handheld foray to be THE professional fighting game experience on the PlayStation Vita. That’s somewhat unfair, since it’s the only “realistic” fighter on the PS Vita at present. But, much like Golden Abyss, it never hurts to potentially set the bar too high: that only means that better games will be coming down the pipeline. Does MMA have what it takes? Stay tuned.
Let’s be blunt: I like as many things about this game as I hate about it. When things work in this game, it looks and feels great, especially in grapples and takedowns, but getting to some of those points proves to be a result of luck and faster-than-light reflexes. Players have three different buttons dedicated to defensive moves, L being the basic block, circle being the parry, and X being a low block; and all of these buttons can be leveled by using the left joystick to “aim” the block in a more specific location. The reaction time for executing any of these abilities is literally less than a second. On top of this, the game lags occasionally when pressing a button, so a lot of my attempts at parries didn’t even execute. The game does offer prompts that show up in the upper left of the screen so they’re conveniently out of direct sight, but my best recommendation is to learn when the best course of action is required. Relying on the prompts is almost a waste of time, and the cost far outweighs the reward. Essentially, a basic block is probably the best bet, even if the reward for successfully parrying an opponent has a lot of damage forthcoming. At least, when the player is standing up, that is.
To contrast this control issue, the controls for takedowns are much more forgiving. When standing, the player only has one opportunity to get it right or the whole thing goes to hell. When in a takedown, however, the player can literally mash the three defensive buttons and get away with anything. This inconsistency in controls really makes the game feel rushed, which is something that plagues a few other PS Vita launch titles. Still.
Graphically, saying that this game is average is generous. In motion, some of the textures and lighting look impressive, but when players stand still, or the camera zooms in, the textures look muddy and poorly designed. The animations however are this game’s focal points. Character interaction, especially in takedowns, is quite impressive. Watching opponents slink out of each other’s takedowns and countering into a different one makes for quite a show.
The music felt appropriate, simply put. Nothing was really impressive, and usually music starts standing out for me if it feels either impacting or intricately designed for the game. The soundtrack choice seems to be ripped right from the TV show, I assume, and put into the game. I may be wrong on that, but the songs didn’t give me much of a reason to listen to them, though most rap really isn’t in my deck of cards. Now, if it had folk music… Just kidding. The music and the sounds of the game give the game the feel that it should have rather than what it needs. Some player sounds could sound more authentic, and some songs could be more contextual or driven. Then again, Madden never has anything that great, but MMA is smaller time, and I feel like little things like the soundtrack would be more important than having it as filler.
Supremacy MMA Unleashed supports online. That’s a fun fact. But I couldn’t access any online matches any of the times I tried. The game offers both ranked and player matches, but no one is playing them. Regardless, I can’t report if the online experience is good or bad, because no one is around to test it. So, if you pick this game up, find a friend that will join you. This game does support ad-hoc competitive play as well.
All of the characters in the game have a brief story to live out in campaign mode, and most of them are about people who are more down on their luck than anyone in the world. So bad in fact that some of the scenarios feel a bit forced and not authentic. Still, it’s initially dramatic, and it gives players a reason to see through each player’s five matches.
I have to say, even though my expectations weren’t high going into this game, I am still disappointed. When the controls worked and my reaction times were faster than Neo in the Matrix, the game feels great. I’m always a respectable fan when it comes to games with high cost, high reward schemes, but the cost in this game is too high and the reward doesn’t compensate. On top of that, having inconsistent standards in the varied gameplay bring this game down a few notches. Man, those few times where I countered and parried and blocked fluidly in succession made me feel like a champ, but it infrequently worked and the rest of the time was me swearing at my PS Vita for not making my response times fast enough. I wouldn’t mind seeing if 505 takes another stab at this game, taking feedback from fans and seeing what it could do to improve the experience. This game has a few glimmers of hope, but it needs a proper chassis before this becomes a good car, so to speak.