Bellator: MMA Onslaught – Game Analysis & Review
By Patrick Newman
Developer: Kung Fu Factory
Publisher: 345 Games
Platforms: PlayStationNetwork, Xbox Live
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Modes: Single-player, Online Multiplayer
Downloadable, and for only $15, Bellator: MMA Onslaught could only make up for its inevitable slightness through higher quality gameplay and presentation. Unfortunately, Kung Fu Factory’s new fighter falls short of the mark on both counts. Despite some realistic character designs, the game is visually under-developed and flat, and the more arcade-based qualities of the combat rob Bellator of being very satisfying as a simulation for MMA fans.
Two different weight divisions separate the game’s stable of eight fighters, chosen for their successes in the yearlong MMA tournaments. The combatants, including Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, Daniel Straus, Joe Warren, and Michael Chandler, are represented accurately in the game. Overall, one of the game’s stronger selling points is its adherence to the realities of Bellator tournaments, as everything from the roster to the various arenas is given a fairly detailed, realistic sheen. Unfortunately, the animation and physics of Bellator just don’t provide a combat experience that can reach the bar set by MMA simulators such as UFC Undisputed 3.
The mechanics of the matches are oddly reminiscent of Tekken, with the jerky blows, dodges and takedowns rendered crudely in animation that must have been rushed on a low budget. The lack of in-fight commentary is another major setback in the game’s ambition to properly evoke the Bellator experience, as well as the absence of K.O. replays or a career mode, which should be the cornerstone of any worthy sports title.
Bellator’s gameplay falters by trying to marry the looseness of an arcade fighter like Tekken to the stark realism of MMA competition, and fails to gather any real momentum as a result. The standing fights are diverting enough, but as soon as the combat is taken to the ground, the air goes out as the options become limited to standing or going for a leg sweep. The controls are mainly confined to flicking the right analog stick, which manages to be more awkward than fluid.
The matches themselves don’t have much life to them because the best strategy – wearing down an opponent’s health and stamina bars in the first round and going for the knockout – is too easy to accomplish on the first round, to the point of repetitiveness. Submissions are also wearying in the near-impossibility of escaping them, since players who initiate the move also have the drop on their opponent in the accompanying mini-game.
Create a Fighter is the sole addition to Bellator’s Arcade-only campaign that gives the game any depth or re-playability. Experience points, easily earned in the narrative matches, can be used to improve the fighter’s move sets and create customized combos. Otherwise, the fighter feels like it was put together without much care or desire to stand out from the pack, a carelessness that can be felt in the experience of the game.
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