Supremacy MMA is a classic case of a game you want to like. It’s got its heart in the right place – delving into the shadowed world of underground cage fights to further educate MMA enthusiasts in the gritty nature of battles waged beneath our notice. It’s a title that comes in swinging, but tends to whiff more times than not.
What a number of gamers may not realize is the entire roster is not made up of actual real life competitors. Anyone worth their salt in MMA knowledge knows that Jens Pulver, Felice Herrig, Michele Guitierrez, Malaipet, and Jerome Le Banner are real people. Most of the other fighters are only based on other real life fighters. For example, St. John Ackland is based on LA fighter Devon Schwan. Contrary to Ackland’s British roots, Schwan is from Kansas. This is not to say that just because a number of the characters are not actual people, the game is not worth playing. It’s not like every underworld fighter is lining up to show their faces.
Regardless of the mix of pseudo-fictional characters, Supremacy MMA still delivers in diversity. Each fighter stays true to their individual style and no two characters play the same. A Karate practitioner has the advantage when it comes to parrying and countering attacks, Jiu Jitsu and submission wrestlers have their strengths in ground games, and Muay Thai and western kick boxers can keep their opponents away all day with a vast array of striking blows. Though often times, given the nature of chain combos, button mashing happens. The game’s use of Quick Time Events (emphasis on ‘quick’) for escaping or countering attacks intercepts any comfort in grinding away at the attack buttons so much concentration is required in any fight. Strangely, there were moments even when I properly timed my QTE response the game occasionally didn’t register my throw escape. Either way, the game’s combat can be very complex, where flipping through the manual may be required.
For a game that suits up to bring thrills, Supremacy MMA sadly doesn’t do well in maintaining hype. This ranges from the most miniscule of features to even the largest. When making selections, the only sound effect heard is the dull thud of a fist pound. Sound effects for menu screens are the last thing on anyone’s mind, but it is through Supremacy that I remembered how the simplest things can keep us interested. Next up is the monotonous soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the rock, but the instrumentals tend to stay on the same chord so most of the tunes sound the same. If you’re wondering why your adrenaline isn’t maintained at a certain level, it’s because of the music. I actually wouldn’t have minded some vocal tracks thrown in, some hip hop here and there even, something to keep me excited. Very disappointing is also the fact that the crowds don’t chant, cheer, scream, nothing. So what am I fighting for again?
The game can be thrilling with its over-the-top violence, but after the first few times of seeing someone’s arm or leg broken, a neck crunched from a suplex finisher, or a slow-mo knock out (which gets overly dramatic with their elongated duration), the buzz is gone. Further blemishing its ability to retain interest is Supremacy’s story mode. I was expecting something animated, armed to the teeth in grittiness and cusses like Grand Theft Auto, but every character’s tale is told through vignettes. Being that there are only two female fighters, their stories are very short as they’re only meant to fight each other. The males’ storylines are a bit more elaborate, but contrary to what I was advised at E3, there aren’t any moments where a fighter’s path crosses with another’s story. Malaipet’s story is one that can be respected as it harkens to his days struggling to fight from Thailand to the US. Ackland’s story is my personal favorite as it’s seasoned in the narratives of British gangster films. But as I had previously pointed out, Ackland, and a number of other characters, aren’t real, thus the gravity of their stories are easily questionable.
Given the short nature of each tale and each “cutscene”, it’s difficult to appreciate and remember that Supremacy MMA takes place in the underground – no mentioning of what ifs such as cops busting in, rigged fights, gang hits, no one getting dragged off half dead from the ring, there’s just nothing that teaches players about the dark world of the underground fight scene. With a lot of bare-boned features, it’s no surprise if you end up walking away with little motivation to go online. Probably just my luck, but every time I tried finding some online fights I always got back zero results.
The flaws of Supremacy MMA are recognizeable for exhibiting a lot of room for improvement. Had there been sufficient attention to the most fundamental of gaming components, the broad and involving subject of underground fights would’ve been given the limelight it deserved. Case in point, in observing my non-existent Supremacy online experience with the likes of UFC: Undisputed, Fight Night, and even Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, Supremacy still has a long way to go before it can begin rallying solid support to its corner. The gameplay can be addicting, but similar to its overly violent theme, it’s a gimmick that washes quicker than blood.