If you find an immensely popular sport with a worldwide audience it’s a pretty safe bet to say that EA Sports are likely to be the ones crafting a game for it. They’ve already got their hands on the likes of FIFA, Maddens NFL and the PGA Tour selling millions of copies around the world and now they’ve got a new franchise under their belt in UFC. That’s right; UFC has been given the EA Sports treatment which means you know the game is going to have high detail graphics, enhanced mechanics for lifelike movement and a whole host of hilarious glitches. Therefore there is only one question, will UFC be a KO hit or is it going to leave gamers wishing they were the ones being KO’d before they purchased it?
Well first things first with UFC being about MMA it is very different from other fighting sports such as boxing or wrestling because it incorporates such a vast amount of different fighting styles. The issue this causes in the game is that with limited buttons on your controller it means having to stack up the amount of different combinations to pull off a diverse range of moves. I mean off the top of my head I can think of about 12 different ways to throw a right handed punch and they’re some of the simpler moves to master. So as you can imagine with more than just kicking and punching involved in MMA there are a hell of a lot of things to take in, and at times it can seem a bit over complicated. That’s why eventually I just went with the easier option of either sticking to body shots or button bashing like I was 10 years old again playing on Tekken.
Now that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy playing the game, it’s just trying to remember all the controls left me feeling at times like I was back at school trying to revise for a test, with the test being I had to win fights. Now the tutorial made it all seem so easy, teaching you basic combinations and how to clinch your opponent or make them submit, it even introduces you into the game with a fight kind of the way FIFA now makes you play a game of football when you first start the game. Problem is it’s ridiculously easy to win and can be over in a matter of seconds if you use what you’re taught in the tutorial. Take those moves with you into some of the other game modes and you’ll find yourself stuck and becoming a laughing stock to your friends, so I’d advise any one reading this to take the training challenges which are available as they take you through the moves in more detail and will stop you getting your ass kicked as much.
So as with any game developed by EA Sports you have a few different options when it comes to game modes that are available. The usual quick match option is there to allow you to swiftly enter a fight allowing you to take on friends or an AI opponent without the hassle of getting involved in a career. If your friends won’t come round as it’s raining or you just want a little more human interaction then online play is also available, but be warned you are likely to get caned unless you spend time practicing first. Online play is also enhanced by FighterNet which is designed so you can upload clips of your fights to show off to others and so you can also view special video-on-demand content from UFC and EA. Then finally you have the classic career mode which allows you to climb to the top with established UFC fighters or with your own created one, and come on who doesn’t want to see themselves giving a beat down to the likes of Jon Jones, Anderson Silva or for the ladies Ronda Rousey.
With career mode you’ll see yourself starting off in the UFC reality show the Ultimate fighter; these fights won’t go on to your win record so don’t worry about it if you lose the first one as it is only to decide whose team you’ll end up on. However do worry about your stats if you create your own fighter; you’ll get the chance to fiddle with them during creation but if you’re like me and decide to go into it au natural you may find it a bit of a struggle. You’ll be able to upgrade your fighter by training between fights and the better you do in these sessions the more evolution points you’ll be rewarded with to upgrade your fighter, but to begin with you’ll not do a lot of damage with punches or kicks to some of the stronger fighters so it may be wise to up a couple of your stats. As well as upgrading your fighter during career mode you’ll also be able to assign them new moves that deliver bigger blows and work better than your average attacks in certain combinations. One more unlockable thing worth a mention is the fact you can unlock the legend that is Bruce Lee as a fighter in the game.
As you enter your fights you’ll notice the great detail that has gone into the games design from the drops of blood that appear on the floor when you bust open your opponents eye to the tattoos that cover some of the fighters bodies. Every effort has been made by EA to bring you the most authentic and realistic looking MMA experience to date and as ever they’ve delivered it perfectly, especially with the way the games mechanics make fighters movements more lifelike than many other fighting games before it. And it is all thanks to EA’s precision based locomotion technology that we now see in FIFA games that allow for 360 degree movement, pinpoint accuracy and realistic movement that recreates the physics of the human body; so when you punch someone you can see clearly the way your opponents body reacts as if this was a real life fight inside the Octagon.
The game also incorporates enhanced mechanics that they call MMAi which allows for AI opponents to act the same way real fighters do by standing off if low on stamina so they can recover some energy and take their time to land blows and put together lethal combinations rather than throwing punches willy nilly and tiring themselves out. This makes for much better gameplay because some games you know exactly what the computer is going to do, how they’re going to do it and the ways in which you can capitalise on that. With UFC though everything is unexpected, one blow can change the game by catching them at the right moment and if you’re dominating a match your opponent will try and back out to get some breathing space and gather their thoughts.
Now for all the good the game does it wouldn’t be an EA Sports game if it never had glitches and you’ll be happy to know UFC is no different. You’ll find tonnes of videos already on the net with some of the most bizarre ones but for me there weren’t any as hilarious as them. Unfortunately for me it was just annoying because considering the mechanics have been tried and tested on other games they still have some major flaws. I was losing a fight to my mate when I managed to get a take down on him and thrust my fist into his face as he lay there defenceless. So far so good but as I tried to move around him to get into a decent position to force a submission (I hadn’t told him the controls so he’d not be able to escape) I begin just switching positions at the speed of light and couldn’t move until he eventually threw me off costing me my chance of winning. I also had the odd occasion where I’d throw a punch and miss but it’d act as if I hit my opponent or vice versa which although good because it occasionally worked in my favour, glitches aren’t what you want when you spend £50+ on a new game.
So to conclude EA Sports are probably going to have another hit franchise on their hands with UFC; I wouldn’t say it is quite a KO hit but more of a TKO with some teething problems that I’d expect to be ironed out before another release. I mean although the game was frustrating at times and overly complicated due to the controls, the game really won me over and I enjoyed every minute of it (even the losing). It provided me with a challenge you don’t seem to get from many sports games nowadays and despite a couple of glitches it is still a solidly made game with some amazing graphics and of course Bruce Lee. Yes it could’ve been a bit better here and there but what game can’t, and when you think that this is the first in a line of what I imagine will become a yearly release like EA Sports other game franchises it can only grow in the way their other games have. Definitely worth it.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.