There was no commentary in the demo version of EA Sports MMA during a Monday morning sneak peek in Manhattan.
That's OK because parked no more than two feet away from me on my right was Frank Shamrock, the MMA legend and now a commentator for Strikeforce events on Showtime.
Shamrock was loud enough in his trash talking during our series of fights that even if there was commentary in the demo, no one would have heard it. (Don't worry, folks, the real version of the game in stores Tuesday has Shamrock and Mauro Ranallo doing the commentating.)
In between his live taunts of me, Shamrock played as Bobby Lashley and knocked me and my Alistair Overeem six times.
"Oh, man," he said.
"Dude, you practically built this game," I said. "You were flown in to develop it, and I took the train in today to play it."
Yeah, I was salty.
But when my Overeem finally submitted Shamrock's Lashley, the place roared. OK, fine, I roared. Whatever. I just submitted an MMA legend. How I slapped on the armbar was a combination of skill, talent, martial art mental discipline and some furiously fast and random button pushing.
The best part about submitting an MMA legend (yes, I know it's just a video game, but play along for the story's sake) was watching it happen. In EA Sports MMA, when you put your opponent in a submission hold, it shows you the bone and tendon of the ligament in distress. The more red it gets, the closer you are to the submission. Think of it as an energy level you've seen in countless video games but displayed in a visually impressive and creative way.
But enough about my Monday morning meet and greet with Shamrock, for now. On to the game, which is pretty sick.
EA Sports MMA, though it uses Strikeforce as its featured league of fighters, aims to give gamers "the definitive MMA experience." It's more about the sport than it is the promotion company behind it. Gamers can compete under different rule sets, including the current MMA rules, Vale Tudo (anything goes) and others.
"They're down for sports and they're all fans of MMA," Shamrock said. On one of his six trips to the EA Sports lab to provide game commentary and answer fighting questions, one of the developers asked to wrestle Shamrock. So he did it. Talk about submerging yourself into your research topic.
Shamrock said he did more than 30 hours of commentary for the game. Take after take, line after line. It's akin to being a voice actor in an animated movie. "It was really hard for me to push my voice that far," said Shamrock, who has been known to talk a time or two about and/or to his opponents. "I thought I was all bad-ass because I was doing live TV. Then they stuck me in an EA booth for six hours."
The newest and perhaps biggest addition EA Sports MMA brings to gaming is the Live Broadcast: Gamers can create a fighter, produce a hype video and try to get noticed by an EA Sports promoter. If so, you'll go big time by having your fight broadcast online with live commentary. Get real crazy with your friends and set up your own fight cards with up to 10 people.
In creating that fighter, you can use your own face if you wish. Or maybe the face of that bully in your school so you can act out your revenge without fear of detention or suspension by the principal and grounding by your parents. You can even let others use your created fighter and vice-versa by using the game's Fighter Share feature.
Yes, there's a career mode. Yes, you can feel the controller rumble when you're getting beat up badly. (My thumb is still rattling from the Shamrock whupping I received.) Yes, the game has Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture, along with Dan Henderson, Bas Rutten, Shinya Aoki, Pat Miletich, Rickson Gracie and dozens of other fighters.
Enjoy the fights.