Electronic Arts has increased its Sports titles punching weight with its latest installment, EA Sports UFC. This game sees EA have full access to the UFC juggernaut and brand, such as complete access to the full roster of stars of the UFC. The game features a roster of 97 UFC fighters, as well as two DLC characters: former UFC superstar Royce Gracie, and Bruce Lee. But with a game like this the company needed to ensure that they brought the controls, presentation, content, and multiplayer elements.
Gamers who enjoyed EA’s Fight Night series may find much familiar about UFC’s physics-based combat. EA Canada’s first crack at this mixed martial arts project captures the atmosphere and beauty of the real event but it does sometimes fall down on ensure that controls are seamless.
Visually, EA Sports UFC is all levels of gorgeous. Built from the ground up for next-gen consoles, the Unity engine stretches its legs here. The UFC Fighters look incredibly life-like and similar to their real-world counterparts, bruises and swelling show, and some of the moves look downright teeth-shattering. The attention to detail in the game also means that the characters move in the same way as their real-life counterparts too.
Fans of UFC will be delighted to know that you can even dish out Jon Jones’ wicked elbow strikes. Moves like this that make you mouth “ouch”, while watching real fights are equally bone-crunching in the game. Leg kicking an opponent repeatedly will slow them down, and at any moment a perfectly timed shot could end the match.
In career mode, the player begins in The Ultimate Fighter tournament as a competitor trying to make his or her way to the UFC itself. The game mixes in some live action footage of various UFC stars along with commentary by the UFC’s Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan and this really brings the pay-per-view event in your own living room feel.
The first time you load up the game, it presents you with an 18-step tutorial which shows you how to do everything from throwing punches on your feet to breaking submission holds on the ground. Skipping this process will earn the player a scolding from UFC head Dana White himself, who wisely suggests that you’d be an idiot to skip training – I personally loved this touch.
Each punch or kick (controlled by the four face buttons) can be modified by holding any direction or a shoulder button, and are different depending on if you are holding your opponent or not.
Basic punches and kicks can be fired off via the face buttons of the controller with ease, but as the fight progresses and the player is caught in a clinch or is taken to the ground, the control scheme begins to become a fair amount more complicated. Across a few matches I was forced to take part in what can only be described as finger gymnastics. Although, the process for submitting an opponent or avoiding a submission is a lot easier and is basically a follow-the-onscreen-prompts mini game.
Career mode aside, the game offers quick match and multiplayer options, but some features require an Origin account to access. As I mentioned him earlier, I can tell you that Bruce Lee can be unlocked by beating the game.
EA Sports UFC feels like the rookie fighter in the competition – it’s competent, a bit rough around the edges, but it shows some serious promise and is entertaining enough to invest a bit of effort in. It’s great game to enjoy with a few mates around, and it’s bone-crunching entertainment when throwing down in local co-op mode against your mate. All in all its is beautiful to watch/play and while it’s not the reigning champ yet… Something tells me that in a few more rounds it’ll be walking away with the title.
EA Sports UFC is out now and available on the Xbox One and PS4.
EA Sports UFC was reviewed on the Xbox One.