Note: The following review is SPOILER FREE!
Bruce Buffer’s voice is like a subtle pat on your back as the bell rings, signaling the first round. Your opponent charges you, with his gloves up and a look of death upon his face. Jon Jones is a force to be reckoned with, but there is no place for that kind of thinking here in the Octagon. You block, counter, and clinch your way through the round landing jabs and kicks where you can. At one point in the fight, you perfectly nail a powerful kick to Jones’ face that sends him backward, staggering.
Seizing the opportunity, you strike. Grabbing his leg, you lift Jones in the air and slam him into the mat. The submission begins and you block his attempt to wiggle out of it, advancing to the next position. Jones starts tapping the mat to prevent you from breaking his left arm, the ref pulls you off of him and sends you back to your corner. Soon after, you both stand in the center of the ring, until the ref raises your hand to declare you as the champion.
Fighting for your right to fight
You can decide to play single player offline fights or online tournaments, but if you want to start your career as a UFC fighter, the story places you in the shorts and gloves of a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter TV show and follows your progression from amateur to UFC Champion. The story serves as a solid tutorial tool, forcing you to learn specific fighting techniques of the game and granting you a specific belt color for how good or bad you execute it. The problem with the narrative is that the video sequences are glitchy. More than a few times did the real video sequences not sync up with the voice during the interview. The transition from those videos to the actual gameplay were more choppy and distracting than cool and innovative.
Practice your grappling techniques!
The game shines brightest, as it should, in the Octagon. The fighting mechanics are as responsive as they are complex and the “Total Body Domination” coding EA’s been talking about so much leading up to the launch works excellently. The real time body damage is apparent not only in the appearance, but also in the way your fighter or opponent acts or reacts after taking that damage. If you’re taking extensive damage to your legs, you won’t be able to move as fast or kick as hard. If most of wounds are to your chest or face, you’ll find yourself winded, bruised, and bleeding heavily.
Each phase of the fight is different. While both fighters are on their feet, the stamina bar will decide how well you block or attack. There is a sense of realism to it that casual gamers might not like so much but true fans of the sport will appreciate. No fighter can last an entire fight without getting exhausted, and EA Sports UFC does an outstanding job of outlining that.
Leaving your feet and going to ground is frantic if you haven’t practiced it. There will be no suggestion control box to tell you what to do, you’ve got to put your time in beforehand to know how exactly to get out of a tight spot and maneuver. No fighter wants to tap out, and I’ve lost several fights online to an expert grappler because I wasn’t versed enough to counter and get out of it before having to tap out. A loss due to inexperience is the hardest one. Those moments of feeling either totally superior or completely helpless are what make EA Sports UFC feel so gratifying. You cannot get into the ring and expect to destroy everyone in the first 30 seconds. You must train and train hard to become “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Good looks and right hooks
While the concept of having UFC President Dana White talk you through the steps to becoming “The Ultimate Fighter” is a cool one, I wish they would have just animated him to make things more seamless. The breaks in gameplay to watch videos did more to take me out of the game than to immerse me in it. I can see what they were trying to do, to make it seem like you were an actual contestant on the show, but as realistic as the fighters are in game, they could have just made the entire story in engine. The videos could have all been placed as bonus content in the archives for those die hard fighter fans to watch and enjoy.
The rest of the sound and visuals of the game are outstanding. Having Joe Rogan cheer on your every move is awesome and what I have come to expect from watching a UFC fight, and as I said earlier, the rapid response of damage to both fighters is realistic and very pleasing to the eye. Each punch and kick that strikes the player or their gloves are well timed and sequenced, and as I’m sure you’ve seen by now through gameplay trailers, the fights all look awesome while you’re playing it. I will say, however, that the character customization is far below PS4 standards, giving very few options for personalization of tattoos that I’ve seen in other UFC games.
While EA Sports UFC may not reinvent the fighting game genre, it does do an excellent job of paying homage to a sport loved by so many, in a way that both casual spectators and diehard fans can both enjoy… while kicking each other in the face.
Which fighter are you bringing into the Octagon? Does ‘EA Sports UFC’ feel authentic enough? Hit us in the comments below.
*This review on ‘EA Sports UFC’ is based off playing a retail copy of the game on the PlayStation 4 console.
The Night Of: “The Call of the Wild” Review
Vice Principals: “The Foundation of Learning” Review
The Night Of: “Ordinary Death” Review
Joe Hill’s ‘The Fireman’ Review
How Speedrunning Changed My Perception of Games
Vice Principals: “Circles” Review
The Night Of: “Samson and Delilah” Review
‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ Review
Vice Principals: “Run for the Money” Review
The Night Of: “The Season of the Witch” Review