Sweat pours down his brow as he makes a quick jab. Sliding and dodging, his years of training have brought him to this point. I tell him to move in for the clinch and plan for a takedown. I know he’ll end up winning and I say we’ll go out for ice cream afterwards. It’s at this point in EA Sports UFC that I think I may have become too tied to my character.EA’s UFC is the type of game that even while controlling a character on the screen, the player is still rooting for him to win, yelling at their fighter to do the things that they control. While the latest game looks great, has expansive playability and a brutal realism, the complex fighting mechanics and controls make it frustrating at points, but much more rewarding when you win.
EA is known for doing a great job when it comes to sports games — NBA 14 is an exception — and with UFC they stay true to form. The game is bright, entertaining, difficult and gorgeous. It’s difficult to find many faults with this game, but the largest and most glaring would be the learning curve. While all fighting games are difficult and loved or hated because of their combos, maneuvers, and ability to win with button mashing, UFC eliminates any ease of winning, and values skill over speed. Much like actual UFC training it’s going to take some time to get a good grip on the game and even longer to really master it.
Jumping straight into career mode is a risky move and is likely to end in swearing and frustration. A short training leads to the first fight which determines if you will be accepted into The Ultimate Fighter and be trained by famous UFC personalities. Intercut with videos from fights and interviews with fighters it becomes an interactive documentary of sorts. Rising through the ranks to win a UFC contract makes the game more than just a series of fights you have to win. While the learning curve in career mode is steep, the separate training area is fantastic, you are easily able to see what you are doing right, wrong, and how to improve. Separated into the main parts of fighting — stand-up, clinch, and ground — it’s the easiest way to learn the many aspects and possibilities for winning a fight and getting better in career mode.
It would be easy to talk at great length on the controls and the extent that the developers went to show the “mixed” part of MMA. Bumpers, triggers, L3, quarter turns on both sticks, literally every button on the controller is utilized and it’s a workout for the fingers. While learning all the combos the player develops their own style of fighting that works with their strengths to be more effective. Ultimately the controls start as a gripe at the beginning when the game is new and unknown, but over time are an integral part that are used with precision and focus.
With all the focus in the actual gameplay, visuals are not to be forgotten. The PS4 version looks great, but there are still issues with hair that just don’t look realistic. It’s hard to fault the game for this since it is a common issue in many new games and is only distracting when creating a unique fighter. It’s a very minor thing that in the end doesn’t detract from gameplay or the overall impressive quality of the game.
The game is highly recommended for people who enjoy fighting games or UFC, but not for those that are new to fighting games or want a quick and simple Mortal Kombat-esque fight. It’s difficult, but fun to learn and makes winning so much more rewarding when you do it with style. Get the demo to see if it’s a good fit and if it seems like something hours could be spent with then definitely pick it up.