Having picked up the Ultimate Fighting Championship licence following the collapse of THQ, EA Sports have not wasted any time in bringing us their mixed martial arts game, EA Sports UFC.
The game features a vast amount of fighters across all weight classes, including the Woman’s bantamweight. For Kiwi’s the game includes South Auckland’s own Mark Hunt, K-1 World Grand Prix 2001 champion, former kickboxer and now a notable heavyweight UFC fighter.
Using their new next-gen Ignite sports game engine EA have utilised the team responsible for the recent Fight Night games to bring us a bit of mixed martial arts action on Xbox One and PS4.
UFC is not an easy to master, it’s a tough game. It features the full-range of stand-up, clinch and ground components of the MMA discipline. From a gamers point of view this means multiple combination or button presses and thumb-stick movements in order to realistically portray UFC’s intricate fighting moves.
In the beginner difficulty you can probably spam kicks and punches to bring your opponent crashing to the floor, but in order to really get the most out of the game you are going to need to practise the various styles of play.
I’m not a UFC fan and I’ve only played the game for hours and not weeks. Ignoring the awful submission mini-game (which isn’t going to get any better) I can see a hidden depth to the game; a hidden depth than is going to take a considerable amount of time to master.
UFC’s complexity is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it offers something for players to work towards and on the other hand it gives the game an overly steep learning curve that may turn off many players.
I think the developers realised this. As well as a general tutorial at the start of the game, the challenge mode allows players to concentrate on a particular aspect of the game and improve on areas where they are weak. Whether this is enough depends on the player and how engaged they are with the UFC combat style.
EA Sports UFC is a very nice looking game. At a glance you can hardly tell if you are watching live action or game graphics. The animations are seamless and the way the fighter’s muscles flex and ripple is absolutely amazing.
The only problem that I had with the game is that for the most part clinching and ground combat are not that much fun to play. UFC aficionados may disagree. Whilst it may be fun to watch on TV, trying to control one of two writhing bodies on the ground, fidgeting with arms and elbows or with an opponent constantly trying to hug you is, well, a bit boring, really.
The submission mechanic is really no more than a dodgy quick time mini-game that throws you right out of the moment. In order to escape or tighten the submission hold players have to tap the thumb-sticks in one of eight directions. I’m sure there could have been a better, more immersive, way to do this.
Things get a bit more interesting when fighting against human opponents. UFC features a decent online mode with one-off and tournament fighting. There’s even a rivals mode that helps you pair up with your particular nemesis. You can pick from your favourite UFC fighter or use your own custom fighter.
The whole package is wrapped up in the sort of high-quality presentation that you’d expect from an EA Sports title. UFA fans are in for a treat in the career mode as UFC president Dana White gives players encouragement and advice via short live-action videos between bouts. There’s also a host of over UFC videos and trailers to be found in the UFC Spotlight area.
EA Sports UFC is a fun game, but lacks some of the intensity of the Fight Night boxing titles. It’s tough and the ground game can be a bit tiresome. But it does, however, offer players a considerable amount of depth and will reward those who stick with it and persevere though the rather steep learning curve.