While the mechanics cater for more variation than the Yuke’s Undisputed series, the latter’s control mechanics were not only easier to come to grips with, but also easier to work with. EA Sports UFC is also lacking for me on the singleplayer front – I would want to follow a career of a real fighter. Those quibbles aside, the game is really good fun, and when you get the controls down it’s such a pleasure handing out the brutal and visceral ass-whooping.
Developer: EA Sports
Reviewed on: Playstation 4
Also available on: Xbox One
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7.9/10
What I loved
- Outstanding graphics (really next-gen)
- Polished presentation
- When it works, it so works
- Difficulty level makes for a great sense of accomplishment
Not so much
- Lack of singleplayer modes
- Steep learning curve
- Complicated mechanics and tutorials don’t always help
- Can’t play as real fighters in a career-like mode
Having played all the Yuke’s developed games, at first I actually didn’t like EA Sports’ mechanics. And in all honesty, I am a little embarrassed at the amount of times I needed to return to the tutorial modes. The Yuke’s mechanics just made more sense, flowed a little easier. EA Sports UFC’s mechanics are difficult to come to terms with, and a week later, I still don’t fully feel at home with the submission mechanics – I get them, but I don’t always feel or know if I am doing it properly, even more so when defending a submission. I actually don’t like the submission controls at all.
There are actually a few oddities that I don’t quite love about the mechanics. Things like flicking the thumb-stick to dodge – when you get it right, it works well. But you really do need to ‘flick’ the stick and not just push it in the direction, so this is far from fluid and often clumsy. The other thing I really don’t like is the transition from defence to countering. You hold in the R2 to perform blocks, and then you need to completely let go of R2 to counter attack. So for example, you will go from holding down R2 to letting go, then hold down L1 or L2 and press the X of 0 to counter strike. This is not sounding difficult as I write this, but I just didn’t find this fluid. Why can’t you just counter from the block, as in still holding R2?
In terms of game modes, well, I do not get why there is a staggering line-up of fighters, but when you jump into career, you need to create your own character. I mean don’t get me wrong, the character creation tools are great, the skill-tree or progressive system is deep, and you’ll be playing for ages to get your fighter worthy of taking on the big names. But I want to play as the real superstars. They all have their own style, nicely and realistically portrayed, and while you can mimic them by customising your character’s style and strikes, it’s not quite the same. I want to progress through some sort of mode with real fighters. Again though, I do have to say, the Career is as deep and as evolving as you would want. You can tailor your fighter in any way imaginable within the theme. You’ll be training and fighting your way up for the longest time before your fighter even feels dangerous. It’s a rewarding ride, and one that requires a lot of input.
That’s the bad, the good is that there are so many types of attacks and strikes you can perform, and even the blocking mechanics were fleshed out. There are basic strikes, be it kicks or punches, and plenty to choose from and assign. Then there’s signature or bigger attacks, using L1 and L2 for variation. Then holding direction with the various attacks performs even more variety – there’s a massive amount of attacks, much more than previous MMA games. There’s no skimping in the clinching, grappling and wrestling moves either, with the only downside being that there’s so much to absorb.
The defence then – sheer genius. This is probably, and strangely so, my favourite aspect of the combat. You can either dance around the ring or bob your head around to avoid strikes all together, or there’s a variety of blocks to perform. Holding in the R2 is a soft-block, OR, you can get really clever and strong block the type of strikes. If you think or see a punch to the head coming for example, you need to hold in R2 and then press the triangle button for a strong, high block. The same goes for a low kick or punch, but this time it’s R2 and X for the strong low block. The blocking is vastly intuitive and satisfying. It also helps going into counter attacks – performing the correct type of block.
Being from the EA Sports stable, you can expect all the bells and whistles when it comes to the presentation – from the menu system, to the pleasing videos here and there of real fights. It is such a pleasure to power the game up and go through it all. The soundtrack, the sound effects, Joe Rogan’s commentary and expressive reactions to big strikes, hyping up the fight – it’s all so polished and very pleasing. The graphics, the character’s animations are simply the very best I’ve seen – really realistic looking. The new IGNITE Engine has me, and avid sports game fan, really excited on what’s to come. If you want to show off to ‘non-gamers’ what your PS4 can do, then show them EA Sports UFC. They would be forgiven for thinking they were watching actually UFC footage.
Apart from some aspects of the mechanics t I don’t agree with, EA Sports UFC is a really satisfying, sim brawler. When you get it all down, it’s immensely pleasing on the eye on top of being satisfying. Every round is unpredictable, engaging and demanding. I just would like to see the mechanics touched up a bit, I’m sure I’m not the only one that finds them a little off here and there.
And while the career mode is deep and organic, I really would have loved some sort of career mode with the real fighters. Why would I want to play with a random creation most of the time, instead of with the massive line-up of the world’s fiercest fighters? Online is great, but I prefer offline with brawlers, because it doesn’t matter how you tax quitters, nothing is stopping someone pulling the plug deep in the fourth round, after you’ve been beating them up for ten minutes or so.
So all in all, I do really enjoy EA Sports UFC, and I will probably be playing till the next instalment, but I do think some things need to be addressed. Still, EA Sports UFC is a brutal ‘next-gen’ sports title that’ll engage and satisfy.
Read about our ratings here.
You can buy EA Sports UFC from our affiliate here.