E3 2012: Bellator: MMA Onslaught preview
"We wanted to create an experience that is easy to pick up," stated Senior Producer Matt McEnerney during our hands-on preview with Bellator: MMA Onslaught. Coming into it, we weren't quite sure what to expect from 345's upcoming title, especially since THQ's recent success with UFC Undisputed 3, along with EA's new deal to regain its production with UFC titles; we were inclined to wonder if another MMA fighter could once again win us over. Nevertheless, we left 345's booth completely satisfied, eagerly anticipating the release of Onslaught.
Onslaught, currently under the certification cycle with Microsoft and Sony, features fast paced fighting action that's accessible for newcomers to the genre, while offering significant rewards for those who wish to dig in deeper with it. Unlike UFC Undisputed 3, Onslaught is all about constant confrontation with your opponent, as McEnerney described it, "think Madden meeting NFL Blitz." 345 accomplished this goal by creating a simplistic control scheme that focuses primarily on button mashing with some critical strategy elements included. The entire premise works incredibly well and keeps things focused on the action at hand instead of you having to memorize complex moves.
345's critical selling point with Onslaught is undoubtedly its in-depth character creator. The arcade title ships with eight, well-known MMA fighters, but allows players the chance to create whatever fighter they wish to take to the mats. Generating characters can be as serious as you wish or as witty and laughable as you wish. Everything from player's hair styles/colors to their tattoos can be customized, making for some interesting outcomes (ours was a hefty...okay...chubby fighter with a green mohawk). 345 also confirmed that players will have four create-a-character slots to play around with, all of which can be used in multiplayer to level up. 345 also confirmed that if players create a fighter while playing through the trial version of the game, they'll be able to transfer him over to the full version by your purchase.
From there we were introduced to the game's character base styles system where you can dish out points to any four base styles. Want your fighter to become better at submission defense? Use your experience points and watch him escape at ease. The entire base styles method is smooth and, once again, accessible for anytime of player. As we continued, we were told that each character will be able to level up until 64, but 345 clearly stated that even at that point there will be no true "max character." In other words, you'll never have to retire your fighter because he's reached every max point in the game.
After a short briefing from the fine folks at 345, we were handed a controller and experienced the action for ourselves. From the first bell ring, players will notice an old-school user interface: a red bar marks your current health, a blue bar represents your stamina, and the full version will feature another meter for balance. From the interface to the entire fighting mechanic, we instantly felt a Street Fighter vibe; this vibe is totally unlike anything you've seen in a MMA title to date, and it's executed in an outstanding way. Oh, should we mention the game looks absolutely gorgeous? There were times during our hands-on preview that we were questioning if it was a downloadable title or a full-fledged retail release. After three exhilarating rounds we were left asking for more, but we felt blessed to have the opportunity to play one of E3's most surprising games.
So, if you can't tell, we're totally excited for Bellator: MMA Onslaught. For $15, players will experience countless hours of fun either locally or through XBLA/PSN. Onslaught will also be one of the first XBLA titles to feature 400 achievement points - 345 actually confirmed the full version will include 30 achievements, one being "Win a ranked match in less than 20 seconds." The game will also include periodic support from the developer including DLC and title updates. If you're on the fence about this once, trust us when we say it'll be on excellent addition to your arcade collection this summer when Onslaught becomes available.