I love a good EA Sports title, FIFA 14 has been great as has Madden, and I always enjoyed the Fight Night games, and so as the gigabytes wizzed their way down my telephone line into my Xbox One I wondered what would come of EA Sports UFC. When Dana White, president of the UFC announced the partnership they had formed with EA we all waited to see what would be produced.
I don’t know masses about UFC apart from the fact that if I ever attempted to do it in real life it would be a very short career. What I do know is that through my time playing the game I have learnt there is an awful lot to it, the popularity, the different fighting styles and the awesome slow motion shots of huge blokes hitting the deck. The game settles you in by taking you through a tutorial of the basic moves in the game, kicks, punches, blocks. It then moves on to showing you how to clinch your opponent, how to take them down and deal with them on the ground. When you have completed that you’ll take part in your first fight. By this point I had forgotten most of what I was shown, but got the win eventually.
The basic controls are simple enough with the face buttons used for punches and kicks but unfortunately that is where the simplicity ends. The shoulder buttons and triggers introduce modifiers to the punches and kicks, and then the analog sticks controls movements and different transitions. Then you need to defend yourself with blocks and takedowns, for the novice it will take a age to get used to, if you ever do. I’m still struggling with transitions and clinches, but with time I’m getting better and better.
From the main menu, and choose what you want to do. There is another opportunity to take part in the tutorial again, as well as taking part in training challenges; there are 90 of them split between Stand-up, Clinch and Ground Work. They are certainly worth going through if only to drill the controls into your brain. You can create your own fighter to take to the Octagon, the customisation look great and like all the EA Sports games there are plenty of options to go through.
I was impressed with the online Championship, it’s very similar to FIFA 14’s Season mode, you have 10 fights to try and get promoted to the next tier, with the chance to win a belt too. The matchmaking is quick and so far appears fair, you can choose a fighter from any of the weight classes and the game will then pair you up with a similar opponent. It appeared to work well as my opponents seems to be as cautious as me when fighting and I never felt like I was completely out fought by anyone. Once the match is over you are quickly back into the lobby set to fight again.
UFC’s main mode is Career, where you’ll create a superstar that needs to first get a professional contract by winning the Ultimate Fighter competition and then making your way up through the ranks of the UFC until you are considered good enough for a Title Shot. Before you head to each event you’ll get the opportunity to train across the 3 disciplines, the better you perform the more points you’ll earn to upgrade you fighter. There are so many options to improve on; speed of punches, joint submission defence, leg health, it will take you most of your career to fully upgrade and you certainly notice the difference as your career progresses. You can also use the experience points you earn to purchase all sorts of new punches, kicks, takedown and cage moves that give your fighter some extra flair against your opponents, you’ll also earn new abilities as your fighter levels up. In the career menu you can also find a detailed section on your career, great if you love your stats. Depending on how good you are at avoiding the big shots from your opponents will decided on how long your career is, you’ll be told when you are down to your final few fights and when your career ends you’ll find out whether you will be entered into the Hall of Fame
There are lots of great videos throughout the career to watch, there are mini interviews with fighters talking about going for Title Shots, dealing with defeat and there are also some intros to specific fighter styles such as submission fighters. You’ll also receive video messages from a whole host of fighters including the Ronda Vousey, Hall of Famers Matt Hughes and Forrest Griffin. They’ll congratulate on your wins, commiserate in defeat and offer advice for the big fights. You can skip through them easily enough and watch them in the menus at your own leisure.
As ever the presentation is excellent and the graphics are excellent, the slow motion hits look brilliant as fighters cheeks rumble before they hit the deck. The soundtrack is good although if you want to change the music you can in the menu. Those of you with money to burn can head to the store but packs of fighters or just individuals, if you are desperate to buy a pack of Bruce Lee fighters by all means go for it, but your money is better of somewhere else as far as I am concerned.
EA UFC starts well on the new generation of consoles; there is plenty of work needed to ensure it doesn’t just become a game that gets roster updates each year. The online is solid and playing against your friends in rivalries mode if something that will keep going back again and again. The game isn’t quite a black belt yet, but it’s getting there.
Big thanks to XBOX for the review code.
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