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Review: Finally a Decent MMA Fighting Game

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    Review: Finally a Decent MMA Fighting Game

    I've been playing new K-1 World Grand Prix game for the PS-2, and with the weekend coming up I thought I would write a little review and give it my endorsement for anyone who wants to try it out.

    I've been really frustrated with the lack of quality of reality based fighting games (i.e. boxing, UFC, Pride, not Streetfighter) lately and didn't really expect this game to be really any different. Most game reviewing websites gave it a decent score, but I have found them to be inconsistent with my tastes in the past.

    So I go down to Blockbuster and get this game with no real expectations of it being good, and I must admit I wad really pleasantly surprised. The game looks good enough graphics wise and seems to do a fairly good job of representing and replicating the K-1 fighting experience.

    At first the game seemed overly difficult, I was getting my ass kicked left and right, but that most mostly due to not having a instruction booklet and having to find out all the moves on my own.

    Once you figure it out the control scheme is fairly extensive but at the same time intuitive. It's the standard, one button for each limb. Where it differs from the UFC of Pride games is the amount of moves you get for each fighter. By pushing a different direction on the control pad you can through a different strike, with each limb having at least four. You easily throw kicks at different heights and levels of commitment as well as punches such as jabs, crosses, hooks, body shots, uppercuts, and long looping bombs.

    Even complicated moves like spinning kicks and backfists easily performed and remembered because of the natural control scheme. This is one of the only games where I don't really have to consciously think what button to push; I can just do it. Combinations are easy because what works in real life basically works in the game.

    The thing I most about the game is its version of a career mode. You pick from on of the 20 some odd real K-1 fighters and go through a series of matches hoping to qualify for the upcoming K-1 Grand Prix tournament. After each fight you performance is judged and assigned a point value. Obliviously winning and doing it impressively (controlling the fight and winning by knockout) get you the most points. You need 1000 points in six matches to qualify for the Grand Prix Tournament, which isn't as easy as it might seem. An almost perfect victory will only get you about 200 points, squeaking out a win about 100, and a well fought loss 50. The first few times through, I won all of my fights, but because most of them were decision victories I didn't get to advance.

    A really nice feature about the career mode is that in between fights you have a chance to train your fighter and improve his statistics. These training games balance beginning difficulty, fun, and realism pretty well. You can hit the heavy bag to develop more powerful punches and kicks, hit the focus mitts to develop fast combinations and stamina, spar defense only to improve your ability to weather damage, so just spar with a partner. Sparring is really cool because it is the only way to work everything at once, and what skills improve is completely up to what you do in the ring. Throw a lot of kicks and your kicks get more accurate and powerful. Throw a lot of combinations and you get faster. So if use the same tactics in sparring as you do in the matches that count, you improve all the things you need to become better at your own personal style. Of course the improvement isn't as great in each individual area as the more focused drills.

    A bunch of other cool features round out the career mode and make it really fun to play. Win fight impressively you start getting asked question by the press. Give the right answers to these and you get special training that further increase your skills. Each fight has a theme, such as "Japan vs. the World" or "Who is the Better Leg Kicker". Things like a guy you already beat challenging you a revenge match to settle the score, keep you emotionally involved and make every fight feel like it means something. Something that is really cool is that win all your challenge matches and go on and win the tournament becoming champion, or you never make it there, the progress of your character is save and you can do it all again, keeping the benefits of your training. As your character receives more and more training, things do tend to get a little easy and first round knockouts of your opponents become almost automatic. My character is currently maxed out in basically everything, and is a 5-time Grand Prix champion. It took be about 10 or so hours get to that point, and now I'm ready to move on to a new character, or try some of the other game modes, such as the one called Revival were you reenact some of K-1's best fights. Finish the fight with the same strike is in the real fight, and it unlocks a clip of showing how it really happened.

    One slight negative is that there are no American fighters (Bob Sapp is nowhere to be found) and since K-1 isn't really all that popular, most people aren't likely to recognize many names. There are a lot of fighters with differing strengths and weakness though and I found it easy to make a personal connection with at least one or two. The only thing missing is a create-a-fighter feature that would allow you to make yourself or other MMA athletes.

    All in all I have to give K-1 Grand Prix a big thumbs up. I don't know if I would buy it. It is very rare that I can't do everything I want to do with a game with a 5-day rental, but this is the first one in a long time I might consider buying. I still have a few days left, and I'll have to see how buy replay value it really has, but I'd definitely recommend it as being good for one or two rentals.

    Edited by - Punisher on July 17 2003 14:25:12

    Sounds like an interesting game, looks like I am gonna have to go out and rent it to take it for a spin myself. Excellent review Punisher, thanks!


      Thanks for the review. OI had written this one off, and now it looks like I'm gonna have to rent it.

      Shut up and train


        Thanks for the great review Punisher, just wondering, does it have a "create a fighter" mode?

        The game sounds pretty good, i've bought the previous UFC games in the past, but they never really seemed as fun as say Virtua figher 4. I'll be sure to give K1 a try.

        Thanks again.


          Wu De,

          I know my reivew was long, but it did include this paragraph:

          One slight negative is that there are no American fighters (Bob Sapp is nowhere to be found) and since K-1 isn't really all that popular, most people aren't likely to recognize many names. There are a lot of fighters with differing strengths and weakness though and I found it easy to make a personal connection with at least one or two. The only thing missing is a create-a-fighter feature that would allow you to make yourself or other MMA athletes.

          <marquee>Dragon , Snake , Tiger , Leopard , Crane. R.M.F.A.F.T.A.T.! </marquee>


            Gud dam I've got to go out and try the game!!!

            Go away I'm talking to myself


              Cool review.
              The Wastrel - So attractive he HAS to be a woman.
              - Pizdoff


                Whoops, sorry about that. Must be getting doozy in my advanced years.



                  No problem.

                  A little addendum to my my review:

                  I know I said as your character progresses in career mode things can get pretty easy. Well last night I found out another cool feautre.

                  During the carrer mode you are not locked in to a single level of difficulty. As you fighter stats and your technique get better, you can save your progress, go back to the opitions screen, change the difficulty, and continue on from there. This increases the replay value even more than I though previously.

                  As I said my fighter is pretty much maxed out, and at the highest difficulty level, the AI opponents at least keep it interesting. I still win most, but not all, of my fights.

                  Another thing the game does well is "flash" knockouts. If you get cocky or sloppy, or if your opponent is just plain lucky, a well timed uppercut or kick to the face can take your life bar ALL the way down and instantly KO you.

                  If I lose this is how it usually happens. While I have found it occasionaly frustrating (no one likes losing), I never found it cheap or unfair. This also gives you a reason to keep going if you are being completely dominated. I have won a fight I would have otherwise lost by a flash KO in the closing seconds of the final round. That sent me screaming and jumping out of my seat in joy.

                  No video game has done that to me in a long, long time.

                  <marquee>Dragon , Snake , Tiger , Leopard , Crane. R.M.F.A.F.T.A.T.! </marquee>

                  Edited by - Punisher on July 18 2003 13:22:03

                  Edited by - Punisher on July 18 2003 13:23:33


                    Other stuff that makes the game cool:

                    Extensive system for modeling fatigue and damage.

                    You have a stamina gauge, that drains everytime you throw a strike. Just like in really life, throw a little jab, it goes down a little, throw a hard roundhouse kick to the head it goes down a lot. Do nothing and it refills.

                    Trying to throw strikes while low on stamina is risky. Your strikes get slow and sloppy, and I believe do less damage. If you throw a kick while low on stamina, your leg hangs out there and then just flops onto the cavanas. You are momentartily off balance, hands down, and open for a devastating counter.

                    Fighters have 3 separate damagable areas, head, body and legs. Damaging any one of the areas, sufficiently can cause a knock down. Damage is show both on the fighters in bruises and by a green (healthy), yellow (damaged), or red (crictial) light next to an outline of a body up my the health bar.

                    You also have an overall health gauge that if dropped to zero, either by repeated blows or by a previously mentioned flask KO strike, will cause an immediate knock out.

                    The only thing the game doesn't have is stoppages for blood, in fact there is cuts or blood at all.

                    <marquee>Dragon , Snake , Tiger , Leopard , Crane. R.M.F.A.F.T.A.T.! </marquee>


                      Just to clarify, K-1 IS NOT A MIXED MARTIAL ARTS GAME. It is a kickboxing game!

                      thank you, that is all


                        No it's not.

                        The term Mixed Martial Arts has nothing to do with striking and grappiling, but the competition of different arts against each other. I said nothing about NHB or Vale Tudo.

                        Some competitors are Muay Thai stylists, some of karate stylists, some kung-fu, and the list goes on at on. They are not Muay Thai only, karate only, etc. and have hybrind rules to level the playing field, HENCE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS.

                        Subimission wrestling tournaments are also MMA events, as long as more than one discipline is being represented, ie not BJJ exclusive, whatever.

                        <marquee>Dragon , Snake , Tiger , Leopard , Crane. R.M.F.A.F.T.A.T.! </marquee>


                          K-1 is a kickboxing event. You can be from any art and compete in Muay Thai, is it Mixed Martial Arts? What about Judo.... is Judo a Mixed Martial Arts event because Russian Sambo practitioners compete? Sure K-1 is marketed as having practitioners from many styles but the sport itself is kickboxing.

                          UFC and Pride are Mixed Martial Arts fighting events. MMA is the name of the sport... which in my opinion is defined by allowing fighting both standing and on the ground including submissions.

                          just my thoughts... of course you can do what you want... which is exactly why I call football "handball".

                          Edited by - Truewrestler on July 21 2003 19:19:59


                            It's really not important, but your thinking here is still flawed.

                            A Mixed Martial Arts event is any event that allows several different arts compete against each other under a unified set of rules.

                            K-1 rules aren't Muay Thai rules, aren't karate rules, aren't standard kickboxing rules. They are rules set to allow the competition of all striking arts against each other.

                            MT fights are under Muay Thai rules, it doesn't matter what style you are from the rule are and favor Muy Thai fighters. Judo is the same. It's still Judo. If Sambo practionioners can come a better Judo guys at their own game, that's great, but the rules and the game are still Judo. They didn't take rules from Sambo and rules from Judo to make it a unbiased competition.

                            Now what about the fact that everyone basically fights the same way? Well there are a unfied set of rules and it would stand to reason there is one best way to fight under those rules. Regardless of their own personal style, fighter will adapt to win under those rules, and start looking similar. The same thing goes on in UFC and Pride.

                            Look how UFC started out. It was about style vs. style. BJJ vs. Boxing, Kickboxing vs. karate, Shootfighting vs. Sumo, etc. That is what made it a Mixed Martial Art event and why it was called such.

                            Since then the lines have been blurred. Style vs. Style became less and less important as the fighters learned to fight within the rules and adjusted accordingly. Grapplers learned how ro strike, strikers learned how to grapple. There is now a "MMA style", a MT-BJJ-Amateur Wrestling Hybrid that most fighter's have adopted to compete. The use of the term MMA is continued, mostly due to the lack of a better term.

                            <marquee>Dragon , Snake , Tiger , Leopard , Crane. R.M.F.A.F.T.A.T.! </marquee>



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