All Style, No Substance.
In today’s pay-per view main event, we have EA Sports taking on UFC in their first attempt fighting with a licence. Can EA Sports IGNITE come out fighting showing to the world they have what it takes to become the Ultimate Fighter?
EA Sports UFC is the first game using the official UFC licence, featuring fighters from today’s line-up such as Jon Jones, Michael Bisping and Ronda Rousey. Yes, the Women’s Bantamweight division makes an appearance in EA Sports UFC. Before throwing any punches or kicks, the game throws you into a lengthy tutorial at the start of the game before your ‘first taste’ in the octagon.
The tutorial, while explaining the basic controls, lacks the depth needed to understand the mechanics straight away and the first fight saw me struggling to counter a submission move. UFC is hard to understand and it does take time. I praise the difficulty and challenge it tries to setup, making it harder to learn with more possibilities than your average fighter. You’ll learn how the game works properly when you hit up the challenges mode where it teaches you the techniques and situations you’ll get into. I recommend you hit this mode up first before taking on any fights especially online.
As modes go in UFC, there’s not many and the main career mode just seems so boring and lacklustre. The career mode is pretty much a direct replica of the UFC Reality TV Show ‘Ultimate Fighters’ where a no name fighter that you’ll create will rise up through the ranks and ultimately end up on the UFC six figure salary fighting other qualified fighters. While the vision for the mode was spot on in my opinion, it just doesn’t feel very detailed or fun. Character creation was great to form your own personal identity in-game but the absence of having the ability to create a female fighter for the women’s division was somewhat questionable. The mode itself was just fight after fight slapping in a smaller variation of the challenge mode as ‘training’… seriously. You’ll get XP here and there and you’ll use that to upgrade your fighter. After hitting the main stage of the UFC, I kinda gave up on career as it was too shallow and the pop-up videos of Dana White reading lines in-front of the camera was just cringe-worthy.
The fighting itself is probably the most rewarding thing about EA Sports UFC. I love how the game sets itself up on three levels making it really interesting when you switch things up. UFC is comprised of Standing, Clinch and Ground. Each level has their own unique sets of controls to learn – yes it can be quite overwhelming. The standing style as you may expect is just simple throwing punches and kicks hoping they land but once you get into the clinch and ground – the real fight for survival begins. In the clinch and ground style, the fighter will attempt to get the better stance over their opponent by flicking the right stick to control the different positions. Adding a few jabs here and there, this is where the fight can dramatically shift. When in a dominant position, fighters can initiate submissions to shut down the opponent. This is where the game moves into a mini-game where the player in defence must stop the opponent from fully completing the move. It’s a better setup than just having the move initiate, giving the opponent some chance in preventing the move.
When I previewed EA Sports UFC about a month before, I just couldn’t believe how amazing the game looks. From the fighters body movements, facial reactions, sweat and blood – the IGNITE engine simply looks amazing. The final version still looked amazing but I noticed a few performance issues whilst playing my first match. The game often suffered from frame rate stutter and in my second fight, the game crashed forcing a restart from the dashboard. Hopefully EA will patch the game addressing the above as it really felt too annoying to play with.
The other thing that really annoyed me (maybe its licence or rights related) but the game lacks any older fighters which I wanted to play with. Fighters such as Shamrock, Jackson and even Brock Lesnar were missing from the line-up. I get they were not fighting anymore but it wouldn’t hurt to add a few older faces in. If they could get Bruce Lee, yes Bruce Lee in the game – I didn’t see why it was an issue to leave them out. Also what’s the deal with Bruce being in the game? It’s just something about playing with a guy who’s passed away.
There’s a lot of potential here for EA Sports UFC to be the best MMA and UFC licence game out but it just falls short on things it should do well in. The shallow career mode just felt like a chore to play through and it doesn’t feel as involving as it should be. I’m not saying EA Sports UFC is a bad game as it ticks all the boxes for a fighter but it lacks character, depth and variety. Maybe next time around, EA Sports UFC can truly deliver bigger punches.
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed) & PlayStation 4
A review copy of the game was provided by the publisher.