Sports fans at E3 had plenty to look forward to, from EA’s Madden NFL 13 to a slew of fitness games for every console. But for those of us into combat sports, the pickin’s were slim. No new boxing games, and the only major announcement was that EA has finally reached a deal with the UFC and MMA’s favorite monopolizer, Dana White.
But for those who dared to venture into the smaller Concourse Hall, set in between the two behemoth North and West Halls, amongst the major players, was a teeny tiny temporary office that was home to 345 Games. And within that teeny tiny temporary office was the gem combat sports fans were looking for Bellator: MMA Onslaught.
Bellator Onslaught is based on the actual Bellator mixed martial arts tournaments which have more of a focus on quicker, lighter fighters, and as such strives to maintain a faster pace than the UFC Undisputed games. In design, 345 Games wanted the game to have the complexity of a combat sport game, but the speed of an arcade fighter.
A good arcade fighter relies on intuitive controls. It should make sense that a sequence of actions produce a certain result. Random button mashing shouldn’t be the key to success. 345 Games took this mantle, and the results are great. For example, your fighter’s ground game is all controlled via the right analog stick of your PS3 or Xbox 360 controller. When I got my hands on a playable demo, it felt like something I could learn quickly.
As much of a boxing fan, and by default an MMA fan, I was never a big fan of combat sports games for this reason. Especially with MMA games, the controls were stiff and clunky, but with Bellator I felt in the game quickly. With my boxing background, I felt more comfortable with strikers, obviously, but when I was taken to the ground, I felt I could quickly adapt. The game not only displays your health but also your stamina. Just as in a real fight, it doesn’t matter how healthy you are if you have no stamina. As your stamina meter depletes, it becomes easier to be knocked out and harder to escape submission moves.
With its partnerships with Everlast MMA and Viacom Networks, training modes, create-a-fighter options, and many current Bellator fighters on the roster including current featherweight champion Pat Curran and the “Pitbulls” of Bellator, the Freire brothers, Bellator: MMA Onslaught, much like its real-world counterpart, plans to make its mark in the combat-sports gaming world.
Here’s the knockout punch though: retail value, as mentioned by 345 Games themselves, is estimated to be about $15 on the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. A full combat sports game, for half the price of the big guys. Plus, 345 Games has no plans to stop there – they have their sensors out there, listening for what players want, and they plan on releasing patches for those needs. Players want the heavier fighters? They’ll put them in. Baggier trunks and crazier hair? They’ll patch up the create-a-fighter. 345 Games made it very clear that they weren’t happy unless the players were happy.
Take that, Dana White.