Bellator: MMA Onslaught Review
It hurts more than it helps.
MMA is one of the fastest growing sports around and everyone is looking to take advantage of its growth. The UFC leads the way, with smaller organizations like Bellator fighting tooth and nail to stay alive and get some recognition in the sport. Spike and MTV have picked up its TV rights and now 345 Games and Kung Fu Factory have released the game Bellator: MMA Onslaught on the Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network. As much as I love MMA, this game doesn’t do anything to take my attention away from the UFC series, or any other game for that matter.
Bellator: MMA Onslaught is an arcade style fighting game that sacrifices realism in an effort to become a more fast-paced, easy to pick up MMA game compared to the simulation nature of the UFC games. Think of it as NFL Blitz and the UFC games are Madden, but without the fighters lighting on fire of course. In the career mode you will create a fighter and then take them through a series of training exercises to increase their skills and rank. When you complete an exercise successfully it will reward you with EXP and Skill points as you level up, improving your fighter. At any time, you can then take your fighter and use them in all offline and online modes, but obviously they aren’t going to be any good until you spend a decent amount of time training them. Some of the training drills take place in the gym and are over as soon as you complete the task, while others take place during an actual fight which usually requires you to win the fight in a specific way.
There are only eight real-life fighters on the roster in Bellator MMA Onslaught, which is incredibly light compared to the UFC games or even the lone EA MMA entry but at least you can create your fighters, even if it is pretty basic. The create-a-fighter system only has pre-set options for face, hair, body, tattoos and then your gear. There are no sliders or options to change finer details of each area, which would have helped make up for the lack of fighters on the roster. You can’t share or download fighters either, which is also something that would be a nice way to increase the rosters. After you create your fighter you can then customize their move list, which is one of the handful of cool things in the whole game. I realize that Bellator doesn’t have as many fighters as the UFC, but there are definitely more than eight, so the roster could have much bigger from the start.
Once you get past the lack of things in the create a fighter and jump into the cage, things start to get a little better. The fighting, even though not a true representation of MMA fighting, can be really fun, but also very frustrating at times. The controls are easy to pick up, especially the ground game, and the fights are fast and furious. Each fighter has a health and stamina bar, which when drained causes you flash red and become vulnerable to getting knocked out. To win the fight you can either deplete your opponents health, flash KO them while they are red, submit them or earn a decision victory. Fans of the UFC games will notice the stark difference in the games once the fight goes to the ground, with grappling and transitions performed by just moving the stick in any one direction and submissions are done by just mashing on the buttons. It’s a race to see who can mash faster, but it seems like it’s much harder to get out of the submission than to keep it locked, which means it’s almost always over once they sink it in.
The other problem with the fighting is that it can be very difficult to get away from an opponent when they are striking which means that they can easily throw 10 punches in a row and there is nothing you can do about. Backing up doesn’t break their attack and blocking doesn’t seem to work when they are punching you over and over. Sure their stamina will drain and leave them open but it also seems like the A.I stamina doesn’t drain as quickly, even on just Normal difficulty.
The other modes available are Super Fight and Championship road. Super Fight is just fancy way of saying Exhibition in MMA Onslaught where you can do quick fights against the A.I or a local player. In Championship Road you fight your way through the ladder of seven fighters to try to win the belt, but if you lose even one fight, you have to start over from scratch. Like I said, there’s not much to do in Bellator: MMA Onslaught and even what’s there isn’t that great.
Aside from the two player local Super Fights, you can also jump online and play in a Ranked or Player match, which is harder than you might think since it seems like no one is ever online. I was able to play a few games, but the wait times were terrible. You’ll only be able to use your created fighters when playing online, but you will earn EXP and skill points to take back to your “career”, which is a nice feature.
Bellator: MMA Onslaught doesn’t try to match the real life action in the cage like the UFC games do, but rather Kung Fu Factory went for a more arcade style of fighting, and while the actual fighting can be fun at times, there’s just not enough content to play with. If you’ve been craving an arcade MMA game, then you may enjoy it more than I did, but I would highly recommend downloading the trial first, before handing over your hard-earned $15 for this one. In the end I think this game hurts Bellator in winning over new fans, more than it helps.