About five years ago, UFC President Dana White was at war with the leader in sport games, EA Sports. Present day, we are here showtime kicking and armbaring females in EA Sports UFC. This is the first game in EA’s partnership with the UFC, and the result is a more than solid foundation to build off of. EA Sports UFC is good enough to make Wanderlie Silva run from a drug test to go play the game. (This review contains UFC references.)
EA Canada has been developing the game for over 2 years, and in that time they have captured the UFC experience and atmosphere to a tee. The way fights are presented are almost identical to when you watch them on TV. Not to mention the fighters themselves who move just like their real life counterparts. So when you pick a fighter like Nick Diaz you get the hands down, step to fighter that he is.
A few minor gripes with the game are that Bruce Buffer’s fighter introductions don’t sound like the geniune thing, more like he was stuck in a recording booth. Not nearly the same voicetrous and energetic Buffer we’re used to on PPV. The second is that EA didn’t try to get some licensed songs for the fighters who stick to one song for their entrances. Kudos to EA for getting “Ain’t No Sunshine” for Anderson but what about other fighters? And finally, I know EA will at some point support DLC for the game, but they left out notable fighters like Diego Sanchez and the current bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. Yes, TJ did just win the title a month ago but before that he was ranked in the top 10, more reason to have him in the game, even more so considering how slim that divisions roster is.
Unlike most sports games, UFC videogames aren’t generally easily accessible to player who just want to pick up and play. Sure, maybe you and a friend can just bash each others face in like Sanchez Vs. Melendez but you wont get the most out of what is a well craft fight system. EA Sports UFC is as much a fighting game as it is a sports game, maybe more so.
There are alot techniques and maneuvers to learn so that you can be successful and not get decimated like Frank Mir in his last few fights. The game pretty much requires you to use every button on the controller. The four face buttons are used for basic jabs and kicks, but by holding down one of the should buttons you can throw different types of strikes. You can mix it up and find combos that work for you and the particular fighter that you play with.
The ground game in MMA is just as important as the stand up. All aspects of the ground require you to use the right stick and move it in certain directions for ground transitions and submissions. The ground game is definitely an area of the game you might have trouble with, especially if you find yourself on the bottom. The unskipable tutorials at the beginning of the game just brush over that stuff and the tedious challenges thrown in aren’t really enough to fully train you with the ins and outs of the combat system. This is a practice makes perfect situation, the more you play the more you’ll get an idea of how it all works.
Though EA Sports UFC has the robust combat system to learn and play, it doesn’t offer much in game modes. It does have a career mode in which you create a fighter and go through ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and eventually work yourself from Fightpass fighter to main event star. I really enjoyed the TUF portion of the career as it really captures that show but after that short segment it just becomes repetitive. You accept a fight offer, run through three quick training mini-games, and fight. After each fight you receive experience points that you can spend on new moves for your fighter or increasing his overall stats. If you’re looking for a career mode with plenty to do, you wont find it here.
I was a huge doubter that EA was capable of achieving the level of detail and animation that they had promised in those early alpha demo clips. I’ll gladly say I was wrong. EA Sports UFC is without a doubt among the best looking games this generation. When you first see the game in motion you will believe it’s real for a few seconds, that is a testament to how good the fighter animations are in the game. When you land kicks to the midsection, you’ll see the impact ripple through. This level of detail makes the fights look and feel more real.
EA Sports UFC is only a few steps away from reaching its full potential. The lackluster career doesn’t give you nearly enough game to sink your teeth into. Unless you want to run through some exhibition matches with a few buddies on your couch or online, there’s no more than that. You simply learn the combat system in-and-out, and play the game. This is the foundation that future UFC titles should be built off of, but with way more added features and modes. EA is selling “wolf tickets” with this one.
This review is based on a review copy of EA Sports UFC for the Xbox One provided by EA Sports.