Simulation sports games are by far one of the hardest games to get just right. Not only are there usually yearly releases that have very short actual production time spans, and a market that is literally flooded by one slight update or roster update after another. It’s tough to stand out as a sports game and even make a dent to become the champion in a sea of other wannabe sport games. UFC has been no exception with the last three iterations consistently falling short of that real UFC experience. In the sport of MMA there are many things going on that past UFC titles just fell short on, not only was there a complicated stand up fighting game, but also a ground game to worry about. With so many limbs, variables, angles, and possibilities it seems that being able to simulate that sport through games is near impossible! EA Sports is no amateur when it comes to sports titles, but when it comes to EA Sports UFC they have plenty to prove against their last attempt at the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

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Dream match ups like Rashad Evans v. Jon Jones are possible in EA Sports UFC!

The last attempt at the MMA scene from EA was that of EA Sports MMA, a title which caused great controversy among the UFC as the company. UFC president, Dana White, even threatened bans from the UFC if fighters participated in the EA Sports MMA game. Although this time around it seems that Dana has had a change of heart and has put his blessing behind EA Sports UFC. Even more surprising is that even Bruce Lee Enterprises gave its blessing, thus resulting in being able to play as the DLC and unlockable Bruce Lee in EA Sports UFC. So EA has clearly done some great strides in providing a fantastic MMA experience.

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Fabricio Werdum parries a left hook from Alistair Overeem, a new feature to the game that requires great timing and skill to pull off. Successfully doing so negates the possibility of taking damage.

Right upon turning on the game you realize you aren’t playing your same UFC game, EA Sports throws you immediately into the new mechanics introduced in the game. EA Sports UFC gives you just the bare-bones basics of the game. You learn to punch, kick, throw, and submit on the ground. Anyone that knows anything about MMA, this is just barely scratching the surface of the fight game. Inside you’ll find a cavalcade of even more techniques and moves for you to utilize and learn. There are various fighting styles from classic boxing, to the effective muay thai, and even the acrobatic skills of utilizing the cage are all available to you when fighting. Whether you jump into career mode, head online, or just fight head to head with your favorite UFC fighters, you won’t find an easy way to master the game.

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Swinging for the fences depletes your stamina, and with no stamina even the lightest of punches can be devastating to your fighter!

Every aggressive or defensive motion costs some form of stamina on your fighter, the less stamina you have the less effective your blocking is, the ability to escape throws, submit your opponent, or even escape submission.  Slip and dodge punches and kicks to create effective counter strikes against your opponent many times causing more damage than the big shots taken with the modifiers. Veterans of past UFC games will find it a bit odd to transition to the new controls featured in EA Sports UFC. The bumpers modify your kicks and punches, the left trigger modifying for low attacks, right trigger for blocking. Blocking with the right trigger gets some of the work done, but some damage still gets through to you. The more experienced players will utilize the new parry system, holding block and pressing a face button to parry the incoming attack, although if you miss you’ll take the full brunt of the incoming damage. All throws are completed with the right stick, the more aggressive the throw the more stamina you use, thus sacrificing some power on the ground. The game’s mechanics are well thought out and there’s plenty of give and take to create a rather even playing field for both fighters. Even the new submission system is more satisfying, and honestly much easier to understand!

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Rhonda Rousey is attempting an armbar against Misha Tate, this also features the new submission system. Blue must get the bar to the edge to escape using the right stick, red blocks the progress with their right stick and proceeds the submission with the left stick only when prompted.

With the new submission system, the player initiating the submission will utilize the right stick (the universal grapple stick) to attempt their grapple. The defending player needs to get a bar to one side of the submission interface; the attacker stops this by pressing their right stick in the same direction. To proceed through the submission the attacking player needs to wait for the left stick direction and press it, a wrong press breaks the submission. So long as the defending player gets one of those bars to the end of the interface they also break the submission. Now with a for sure way of knowing how well you’re doing, and not an overly easy gimmick, submitting has become another essential part of the game!

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This is still as awkward as it looks in game…

With something as complicated as MMA, there is bound to be implications translating all of the movement into a set of buttons on a controller. While the standing game is really solid, and plays like any classic fighter, the ground game or wrestling can be a bit difficult to understand. Many frustrating movements are neglected to be thoroughly explained if you simply just dive into the career mode after the opening tutorial. I highly encourage new comers of all skill levels to take a look at the challenge mode as many of the more tedious of moves are explained in detail there. EA Sports UFC is very simple to understand the basics of movement, but the intricacies particularly on the ground are difficult to master. There’s a lot of maneuvering to remember, and can be a bit much if you don’t take the time to learn. I found myself frustrated when simply standing up from the ground wasn’t working. Odds are if a button press or move seems too easy on the ground, then you’re probably doing it wrong. While the ground game is the best it’s ever been in any MMA game, the intricacies of it still keeps it pretty difficult to understand and properly execute. Which isn’t a bad attempt at all; it works well, but it simply presents a difficult aspect of the game to learn.

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You’ll have full control in how your created fighter grows during his or her UFC career!

What would a UFC game be without working to win a championship belt? In career mode you create your very own fighter and take them through The Ultimate Fighter competition and up the UFC ranks to do just that. Starting in The Ultimate Fighter as a fresh recruit it’s up to you to win up until the very end to get a UFC contract, and then continue your glorious career in the UFC! You’ll start at the bottom of the rankings for your weight class, and work your way up depending upon your victories and skill to the top to contend for the belt. But it doesn’t just stop there; you then are going to have to defend your belt to prove that you’re the best in the world. A nice touch to career mode is the abilities and attributes that go into your fighter, so they can develop catered to your fighting style. You can even go as far as purchasing new moves with your accrued ability points earned from your victories and training sessions.

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Training sessions make a return, each one giving you a little more experience in various aspects of the game!

Online has taken the same competitive edge that you have from the career mode. Only this time you get to fight as your favorite contenders from all weight classes. The online features a unique system in which the better you do the better the competition you’re eligible for. There are also online tournaments that you can participate in so long as you qualified for that tournament. Qualifying is as simple as ranking up online, to join the tournament your online skill must be good enough for that tournament. The skill seems to reset after a set amount of time, at the time of this writing the current tournament timer had three days left.

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Everything you need to know about your online career is all easily viewable on one simple page.

The hardest part about a game like this is animation. Last generation definitely couldn’t cut it, but the technology here with EA Sports Ignite Engine really shows. Things like the effect on a fighter’s body from a solid body shot, to the tendons pulling in the underneath the skin, to the heavy breathing between bouts. EA Sports UFC really set the bar in what to expect from next generation sport games. Fighters express genuine pain, wincing at body shots, staggering to devastating blows. Everyone moving smoothly each with a unique style, the attention to detail on specific fighter stances like Anderson Silva’s unorthodox style.

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The sweet sweet victory of a battle well fought!

EA Sports UFC was a fantastic step in the right direction for the sport of MMA. I’d also like to think it’s a proper step in the future of sports games in general. From fighter likeness, to the realistic body damage, each fight feeling like a struggle and earning each win. EA Sports hit the head on the nail with this one, and while simple to pick up the basics, you won’t really get into the game unless you start diving into some of the more advanced techniques. Diehard fans will find themselves right at home, those dabbling in the sport and have been looking for something to familiarize yourself with the sport this is also a great endeavor for you to check out. Those looking for a generic fighter may even have a good time with the game as I was easily able to take things I’ve learned from games like Tekken or Virtua Fighter and implement them here.

EA Sports UFC Review
EA Sports UFC is a phenomenal entry to the UFC franchise. The complicated controls, and learning curve may turn many people away. But those looking for a top of the line MMA simulation, this is definitely the cream of the crop.
Controls7
Animation9
Graphics8.7
Online8
Gameplay7
The Good
  • Oustanding visuals
  • Plays like a fighter not a simulation
  • Addicting and intense gameplay
The Bad
  • Complicated controls
  • Unclear tutorials
  • Steep learning curve
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
8.4