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Pride FC: Fighting Championships (PlayStation 2) artwork

Pride FC: Fighting Championships (PlayStation 2) review

"In the past, MMA has always been viewed as a violent and barbaric sport, but with its new breed of fighters and an increase in popularity has brought the sport to the spotlight. Even though MMA is superior to boxing in many regards, boxing continues to dominate as the most popular fighting sport. MMA has it all, bone crushing knees, arm breaking submissions, vicious slams, deadly kicks, and jaw dropping techniques. Put a boxer in a street fight with a MMA fighter, and the boxer will lose the m..."

In the past, MMA has always been viewed as a violent and barbaric sport, but with its new breed of fighters and an increase in popularity has brought the sport to the spotlight. Even though MMA is superior to boxing in many regards, boxing continues to dominate as the most popular fighting sport. MMA has it all, bone crushing knees, arm breaking submissions, vicious slams, deadly kicks, and jaw dropping techniques. Put a boxer in a street fight with a MMA fighter, and the boxer will lose the majority of the time. As great as MMA is, the games that represent the sport are rarely accurate presentations of the real thing. And while Pride FC does make some effort into making this game more reflective of the subject matter, it still falls short in grasping the true feeling of MMA.

Pride is the number 1 based MMA organization in the world. Being based in Japan, Pride has always bolstered an international lineup of fighters. While there are definitely some missing regulars, the game still has plenty of star power. Backed by fighters like Kazushi ďGracie HunterĒ Sakuraba, Dangerous Dan Henderson, and the Axe Murderer himself, there is plenty of faces with a wide range of techniques that include Muay Thai and Jui Jitsu. Each fighter represented their specialty. Royce Gracie would go for submissions quite frequently, as opposed to Igor, who would prefer the standup game.

Being that there are a wide range of techniques thrown together, you have several options in approaching a fight. For example, if you are using a ground based fighter, a take down should be your main objective. With a combination of two buttons, there are different types of takedowns that can score you into the mount or into a guard position. The guard position is when the opponent has his legs wrapped around you, which decrease your striking power. A mount is a more favorable position. But the problem with the ground game is immediately apparent. It doesnít really matter if you are in the guard or mount because of some unrealistic scenarios. If you play on normal, you can ground and pound the opponent to a bloody pulp, but playing on hard, the computer will reverse practically everything you throw at them. Consequently, being on the mount isnít really an advantage at all. Furthermore, on many occasions, the match can be a long drawn out match of reversals until one can get in a lucky submission.

When playing on normal, you can expect matches to last less than half a minute. In fact, the computer is so bad; I caught Royce Gracie with a flying armbar in the beginning seconds of the match. For the most part, a simple takedown, followed by a submission technique will clinch your victory. Then when you crank up the difficulty to hard, the ground and pound game becomes so skewed that it would be preferable to keep the fight standing. Cheap tactics by the computer all but take away the fun of the mount. A likely scenario from the mount on the hard difficulty would consist of a takedown, and when you try to impose your will with a flurry of punches, you get reversed as if you are using an amateur fighter. To make matters worse, I was using Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who is one of the best Jui Jitsu fighters in the world, yet, I would get reversed with relative ease. A submission in this situation is no better either, as your rear naked chokes and kimuras are reversed with ease, and most of the time, it leaves you in a vulnerable position.

While the gameís ground game is unbalanced, the striking portion isnít all that better. With each button representing a different limb on the body, the controls are fairly simple, as are the combos you chain together. Even when the fighter youíre using is relatively weak at striking, the simplistic controls, allow you to throw those looping rights and lefts like Rich Franklin. One of the main issues with the striking is the lack of diversity. Even though, each button represents a different part of your body, you can only use that one move. So if your fighterís corresponding button to the right leg is a low kick, you can only perform that. So therefore, a kick to the head or different types of striking wouldnít be an option.

Outlining these issues is the gameís lack of content. With a few modes, there is really little incentive to play this game for too long. After a while, each match follows the same pattern that eventually gets tedious. The main mode that one will focus on is the Grand Prix mode, which is a tournament based competition. As you advance in the tournament, the damage you sustain from your previous fight will be prevalent. And while it is a good idea, the problem is with the gameís unbalanced difficulty. If you play on normal, you can realistically reach the final match in a few minutes. If you play on hard, your character will be so worn out from the drawn out battle that your next opponent will pretty much have a walk in the park. With Grand Prix being the main mode, it still feels lacking. The tournament isnít long, whereas a career mode would have been beneficiary.

Even with the issues at hand, the game is still more reflective of MMA than any previous games in the genre, but unfortunately all the other ones were pretty much horrendous. Despite some of the improvements made, the game still doesnít feel like a true MMA game. Instead of taking the realistic approach, the developers opted for a more arcade like atmosphere. Throw that in with all the unrealistic scenarios such as reversing rear naked chokes with ease, the game felt broken.

Perhaps the best part about the game is the gameís intro. With plenty of highlight reels from real life MMA fighters, it kind of justifies the purchase for a MMA fan. Highlights ranging from Kazushiís ground and pound game to Royce Gracie putting a well place armbar; it nicely sums up the brutality and strategy that is required in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. But unfortunately, while the intro was the high point of the game, everything else seemed to fall apart thereafter. The intro was matched with a brilliant and epic tune, but the in game music, along with the announcer leave a lot to be desired. Before the matches even started, I was already annoyed, but the rude awakening that I received was even more of a slap in the face. For someone who loves MMA, I am disgusted by the lack of effort into representing the sport. But itís expected, since the sport isnít widely popular here in the states. I could only keep dreamingÖ

Even with some well known fighters, guys like Fedor, Gomi, Cro Cop, and Coleman are sorely missed. Honestly, if you are a fan of the sport or have any idea on what it represents, then this game is a slap in the face. Whether itís getting your head kicked off by Cro Cop, getting your arm broken by Nog, or getting ktfo by Takanori Gomi, these options are surely better than playing this atrocious representation of MMA. Why oh why couldnít you put me in a triangle choke instead?!?! At least if I was knocked out, I wouldnít have to play this game.

*Applies Rear Naked Choke on the game*

galactus21's avatar
Community review by galactus21 (March 09, 2006)

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