The moment we have all been waiting for is here, the top sports video game developer/publisher and the top name in MMA have finally joined forces. EA Sports UFC has been years in the making and the team at EA Canada have out done themselves. EA Sports UFC is a fresh new take on UFC action, with stunning visuals and amazing action in the cage, fight fans are getting the game they deserve.
EA Sports UFC offers a handful of different modes to play. The perennial quick play is available for you to comb through the UFC roster and jump right into the action. But the bulk of your time is going to be spent online and in career mode. With career mode you take your created fighter from no name Ultimate Fighter show status to stardom. Along the way you’ll hone your skills and master the craft of MMA.
Career begins with the Ultimate Fighter. Just like the show you have to fight your way in. Once in the house you’ll be faced with elimination fights, win the tournament and you’ll land that prized UFC contract. Unfortunately the Ultimate Fighter part of career is one of the games few mis-steps. If you lose an elimination match you don’t just find yourself on the outside trying to fight into the UFC. Instead you get the normal video game rematch prompt. Pretty much you have to win Ultimate Fighter to progress your career. This is the only part of the career that is not open-ended. Once in the UFC your talent in the ring will dictate the outcome of your career. It would have been interesting to lose TUF and find yourself fighting in small gyms and venues trying to make it to a UFC undercard.
Once you being your UFC career you’ll start on PPV under cards and have to fight your way up the power rankings. In-between fights you’ll go to the gym to hone your skills and craft your fighter. There are 3 different systems behind each career fighter, XP, Evolution and Longevity. XP is self-explanatory, gain XP by winning fights, as you level up you’ll unlock more abilities and gain more fans and sponsors. Evolution points, are points you use to increase your skills or buy new moves. And lastly the best addition to a video game career mode ever, longevity. Longevity is a meter that tracks the damage you take during your career, fight reckless and take nasty blows, you’ll see your career cut short. So many times I play video game career modes and they never end, there is never an out. Longevity is an amazing addition and really makes you play smart. I hope this gets implemented in more EA Sports titles down the road.
For the most part I loved the career mode in EA Sports UFC, keeping an eye on your longevity and planning out fight plans really made the mode come to life. However training is still a grind. Before every match you get throw into 3 random training sessions. They really serve little purpose as they pay out very few evolution points. It would have been neat if you are about to face a submission artist, that you do 3 submission focused trainings, and if you ace them you get a small bonus to your submission stats. Something like this would have given the training meaning.
In the cage the game is a ton of fun and really a cinch to pick up. in EA Sports UFC all your strikes are off the face buttons, X/Y are punches, A/B are kicks. Then you can add in the top bumpers for modifiers, plus sprinkle in a direction of the left stick and you have a healthy number of moves to inflict damage with. Blocking is handled by the right trigger, with combinations of right trigger and face buttons allowing you to perform hard blocks/parries. Left trigger focuses your attacks on the lower body and the right thumbsticks will give you various takedowns and transitions on the ground. It’s really pretty easy for anyone to pick up and be able to put up a solid fight with little to no practice. The submission game has also been streamlined very well. When you get put in a submission you will have to se the right stick to escape by filling up a direction meter. The person performing the submission will have to block your escape by matching right stick direction and when prompted flick the left stick to advance the submission. When playing it’s a very simple and logical control scheme that is a lot of fun once you master.
The Sights and Sounds
EA Sports has done an amazing job capturing the look and feel of the UFC. First off all the fighters were 3D scanned in high-resolution leading to frightening realistic digital fighters. But it doesn’t stop there, the team has done a great job capturing the mannerisms of the fighters, from how they move to how they stand, these digital versions could fool most when watching fights. Next in the visual department is the damage system. Just like EA MMA years ago the development team put extra TLC into the damage system. Land a bunch of kicks and you’ll see your opponents sides or stomach start to bruise up, but where the system shines in the face deformation. Land nasty blows and you’ll not only see swelling but the cuts and blood will get everywhere. And what is amazing is how varied the cut and blood system is, I have yet to see two busted up fighters looks the same at the end of a fight. Cuts can occur anywhere it seems and vary in size and nastiness. It might not always be about cutting your opponent but I gotta say I’ve lost fights just because I wanted to see how bad I can bust my opponent open.
The visuals of the match aren’t the only things that make EA Sports UFC come to life, but the sound adds a lot to the action as well. First you have the voices of Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan calling the action and for the most part they are very good and being in time and accurate with the calls, which is surprising due to the speed of the fights at time. But what is also really neat is hearing your corner shouting out commands, and if you fight as foreign speaking fighters it will be in their language and very neat touch. And to top of the wonderful audio, you have the crowd, that will ebb and flow with the action. If it’s a slow boring fight they will be silent and you land those big show stoppers off the cage you’ll hear the arena roar to life.
EA Sports UFC has a big online component. You can do quick unranked head to head matches, or face off against your friends in the Rivalries section. But the real meat of online play is Championships and tournaments. In Championships you have 10 fights to score as many points as possible and gain promotions. Once you finish 10 fights you move to the next season and another 10 fights. Tournaments on the other hand are varying timed events where again you want to win to gain the top spot and all the glory. The online modes are very interesting and give you solid incentives to fight.
The actual action in the cage online is a bit of a mixed bag. Some matches run smooth and fast with barely a hiccup, and then rest are the normal EA Sports lagfests. And these few laggy matches really put a major damper on the online component. Fighting games are all about timing and the littlest miscalculation can be the difference maker. I really had hoped that with the new consoles EA Sports games would finally be lag free, but so far that hasn’t been the case.
EA Sports UFC plants a solid foundation for the franchise. While there were a few rough spots here and there the core of MMA and the UFC are there and they are strong. The game’s visuals will blow away everyone who does battle in the octagon. The control system has also been masterfully put together and are a cinch to use and master. Online play is a mixed bag of quality but when it works it’s so much fun dropping bombs on your friends. I look forward to seeing where the team at EA Canada goes in the future with the UFC franchise but if this first outing is any indication we can expect some really big and mind-blowing things in the future.
After playing the game more online I’ve revised my score down. The online modes a big part of the game, and unfortunately more times then not the online matches are plagued by lag that just makes the fights not enjoyable. Hopefully the team is able to patch the online play to match gamers with higher quality connections so they can experience a great fight experience.
A copy of EA Sports UFC for Xbox One was Provided to Me for This Review by EA Sports
Stunning Visuals, Great Sound and Announcing, Longevity System in Career Mode
Online Play lag at times, Forced to Win TUF