First of all I'll give the fans of MMA organizations spanning the globe a salute. You guys are responsible for giving developers the inspiration to make a next GEN MMA game (most could argue it's been too long since the last) & it doesn't matter to me if it was purely for financial reasons, I'm just happy.
THQ, Yukes etc. Thank you.
Anyway I've been playing the demo now for about what is most likely 24 hours straight... I haven't gotten bored yet and damn it I'm not a Liddell or Rua fan. I am also not exactly easily entertained, however in my arrogances defence: video games have been rather slow lately so maybe this game is taking advantage of a dry spell... However this is a fantastic start to what is most likely an annual franchise but as expected the control system is pretentious and complicating what could have been a "better start".
Guarding high, mid and checking low kicks is one of the let downs of the control scheme. Guarding just feels very unresponsive, having to alternate between R1 and R2 is simply infeasible during a close up flurry of fast (and even slow) paced mixed-up combinations thrown by the opponent & given that guarding barely rewards you with frame advantages there doesn't seem much merit to it other than avoiding the already ridiculously common flash KO. This could have been rectified by having the guard button guard both high and mid attacks with the off-set of a gradually weakening and ultimately broken guard should the barrages keep coming. Alternatively a fight night-esque guarding system that controls the height of guarding using RS ~right analogue stick~ (if you want to be simulator -like).
However I personally feel the RS is over used as it is and infuriatingly so. It is ultimately restrictive given that the same hand that is controlling the RS has to operate buttons too which is just awkward and infuriating when avoiding tackles and retaliating with strikes. Given that defenders of certain moves have to mash buttons or twirl the analogue stick anyway when receiving a submission, you have a cocktail of the controls being demanding by in need of strict timing & yet button mash-able on demand, which ultimately has made things clunky, unresponsive and applying far too much pressure on the hands when this could all be slightly simplified by not resorting to gimmicky mini games using the RS.
The counter system is OK but yet again relies on the RS. This could have been rectified by simply implementing a perfectly timed JF (just frame) tap of the R1 button, checking low kicks could have also been moved to flicking the LS downward within a small window. This could have freed up space for the allowance of perfectly timed JF (just frame) checks leading to over-hand strikes or hooks, possibly ankle picks. Given that it would have been performed with the LS your hands would have been perfectly free to tap Triangle or Square or (whatever) at a moments notice.
I like this game but the submission system definitely needs work and I am confident that the many voices I've seen complain about it have at least let members of THQ know that they have potentially dropped the ball in that area. The MAJOR TRANSITIONS are also unresponsive and clunky THQ / Yukes could have made it more intelligent. The need to make bigger movement with the RS is welcome but making it a 135degrees is simply asinine and a blight on the thumb. It could have simply been a 180degrees from down/up all the way to up/down.
The fighters movement also feels slow and unresponsive, Rua likes to hop around and definitely never hobbles towards his opponent and Chuck although as slow as they come during his latter fights, moves quicker around the ring than the stupid push of the L3 button allows. Double tap instead of single flicks is just leaps and bounds better. The lack of a responsive dodge/ sway is also saddening, this could have simply been the holding of the L1 button and could have opened up a whole avenue of strikes including piercing crosses, hooks, overhands and upper-cuts. The kicking definitely needs work, holding L1 to get slightly more powerful kicks ALONE is simply a waste of a good button. The jabs and quick strikes feel pointless given that you can just as easily get a flash K.O with the same effort. Jabs should lead to stuns, stumbles, cutting tools, fakes and in the event of a really good stiff one at least the ability to ROCK an opponent. Jabs followed by crosses are a clear K.O tool so I for the life of me can't understand why Yukes and THQ have reduced them to just eye candy. The "quick strikes" are just far too weak, their effect on the opponent isn't substantial enough and definitely needs re-addressing, hopefully it's character specific though i.e. Chuck not having good body kicks but has a wicked head kick and great hand strikes.
The Muay Thai Clinch is also too slow and unresponsive. The Whip and the pressure from most clinches should definitely be more substantial than what is in the game. The characters are just too static during the clinches and are too static in general.
The probing attacks are also pretty badly done, the running jumping knee just looks, sounds and collides awful. Even the way you execute these things is done badly. Holding L1 from a distance and pressing X or O a very bad way of doing it. triple tapping toward your opponent from a distance should access a running motion similar to Tekken watch the Anderson Silva videos to notice how he sets these things up r attempt a WR+3 in Tekken for a little more understanding.
Then there's the minor things like, entrances, gum shields flying out after each knock-out, the horribly done referee who gently tells you to stop beating your opponent to death, the slow mount punches which don't seem very frantic or exciting. If anything the animations of certain moves should change when your opponent is rocked, punches should be more frantic, I should be able to throw several punches 3 per second during a mount or while standing or kneeling besides a rocked opponent. Cuts shouldn't disappear during rounds, characters should get multiple costumes, available via DLC but make sure they are significant and not just some colour change of the same shorts. The score cards come too early, the corner advice is absolutely terrible and the taunts are just plain rubbish.
Taunts should come in a range of movements that can actively used as fakes or even slight confidence boosts that increase your knock down & by a few percent should the taunt be completed.
In all it's a good start but this product ultimately feels rushed. If I didn't recognize and respect the characters that were mapped on to the screen and it was some generic western fight simulator or Japanese one for that matter starring some fictional nobodies: I wouldn't think this game is word the disc it comes on. However given that it is an official product it is leaps and bounds better than other official products. TNA game, THQ/Yukes Smackdown franchise & the plethora of film video game adaptations.