Mixed Martial Arts. It’s the fastest growing sport in the world, and it’s also one of my personal favorites. The most popular MMA association would be the UFC. For a good while, THQ had the UFC license and created 3 games, which were universally agreed as pretty good, but after THQ declared bankruptcy, EA picked up the license and decided to revamp everything and create EA SPORTS UFC. Many thought that this was a terrible thing and many thought that this would signal a huge step up in quality. Well, it’s a week after the release of the game and I am about to tell you about my personal opinions of the game.
The overall presentation in this game absolutely fantastic. The character models are almost photo-realistic, and they are probably the best models I have seen in a video game. They also act just like their real-life counterparts. Wanderlei Silva rolls his hands and John Dodson (pictured above) gets all hyper and excited. The intro to the fights also look just like actual UFC pay-per-view events. The actual fighting itself looks great, too. Skin ripples and when punches and kicks land, and everything looks very fluid and not at all stiff. The commentators, Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, are usually spot-on, but occasionally they miss a beat. For example I was fighting Alexis Davis with Ronda Rousey and I landed three solid kicks to the body in a row and Davis got knocked, but Joe Rogan kept exclaiming about how nasty my elbows were, even though I hadn’t once thrown an elbow the whole fight. The music is also pretty great. They have close to all of the walkout songs of the fighters, and that really impressed me. The genres of music were quite varied as you could find anything from rap to hard rock to mariachi. Although the fighter roster is large, there are still some glaring issues, like the fact that there is only 7 flyweight fighters, or that the current bantamweight champ, TJ Dillashaw, isn’t even in the game.
The gameplay in EA SPORTS UFC can range from fluid and fun to complicated and boring. The striking in this game is rather impressive. It never feels too stiff and each fighter feels different, there are a variety of moves that only certain fighters have, such as Junior Dos Santos’s heel kick, or Jose Aldo’s spinning side kick. At times certain stand-up strategies can seem a bit unfair. Such as only aiming for the body, as it is a lot easier to knockout someone when you only hit body shots rather than mixing it up or going just for the head. There also doesn’t seem to be much punishment for spamming. While there is a stamina meter, and if you just keep constantly punching your stamina will run low and you have a high chance of getting knocked out, there are still times where I block the shots and try to wait for the perfect moment to strike, and all of a sudden, one of their jabs somehow breaks through my block and rocks me, even though I have full stamina. The clinch game is alright, if anything, a bit awkward, but the ground game is where I start to have some issues. Everything moves extremely slowly on the ground, and it seems a bit unfair when you time your takedown perfectly, and get the opponent on the ground, in a dominant position, but at the click of a button they are free. And to avoid this you almost solely have to focus on not letting them get out rather than trying to transition to a better position, strike, or go for a submission, which are all pretty different button combinations than the “defending escapes” combination. The submission system works quite well, in my opinion, and can be a fun chess match that matters solely on predicting their moves and having good reaction timing, although every single time you actually submit someone, it was after a minute long submission war, and in the actual UFC, people get 5-second submissions all the time, so it almost takes you out of the game. One other thing this game doesn’t to have seemed to get right, is the decisions. There have been matches where I have gotten more takedowns, more strikes, better percentage strikes, better percentage takedowns, and more knockdowns, yet I lose in a majority decision. I know that there are some really bad decisions made in the UFC but I don’t think that was a good idea to have that emulated in this game. The online modes are also quite fun, and out of the almost 50 online fights I have had now, only one resulted in a disconnection.
The career mode in this game was a surprise to me. After seeing the trailer that announced The Ultimate Fighter would be in the career mode, I had been ecstatic. Having TUF in a UFC game was something that I had always wanted and though was a good idea, I was even starting to wonder greater things like, “Do I get to choose the coaches?”, or “Do I get to make the opposing fighters?”. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed with the career mode, and neither of my hopes came true, which is honestly okay, because it isn’t that big of a deal that you can’t choose the coaches. After creating my fighter I started training and soon was recruited by Dana White to join TUF, but unfortunately my excitement seemed to stop there, as the constant training becomes monotonous and boring. The actual fights start to get boring too, because it took me about 18 UFC fights to finally fight against an actual fighter, and all of those before me, except for my very first fights, I simply did not care about, and this wasn’t even in the flyweight division, which as previously stated has only 7 fighters. This was in the welterweight division, which is one of the most populated divisions in the game. It is also quite unfortunate that you cannot continue the career of a current UFC fighter. I, personally, think that playing as some of my favorite fighters such as Joe Lauzon, Louis Gaudinot, or Cung Le, and making them the champs, would be extremely exciting, and would definitely give a lot of staying power to this game.
In total, I think that EA UFC is a great foundation for a new series of games, and with a few tweaks, it should be great.
EA SPORTS UFC gets a 7.7/10