The Octagon, a caged proving ground where the biggest fighters in mixed martial arts have spilled their blood, sweat and tears fighting for bragging rights, supremacy and championships.
The UFC brand now swoops back the curtains and enters the ring of next generation gaming with EA Sports’ UFC for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 developed and published by EA. It promises to capitalise and improve the gameplay and graphics seen in the last entry, UFC Undisputed 3 released 2 years ago. With the new power of Microsoft and Sony’s new machines, EA have taken full advantage and brought us a game that is faithful to the sport, looks phenomenal with real lifelike graphics and explosive gameplay albeit a little fiddly still.
UFC’s career mode once again requires you to create a generic fighter, whom can only be male, and progress with him to become UFC world champion whilst fighting the biggest and best in the sport. After a brief introductory speech by UFC owner Dana White, you’re forced to undergo training to be shown the ropes, you must then use that training to test it out on a real bout, this can be skipable though which then leaves you to your own devices. The only game modes on offer are Quick Play, Career and Online as well as training challenges which is disappointing as more modes could have been welcomed, for instance, something like the WWE Universe mode seen in recent WWE games or create a Pay-Per-View or relive key UFC moments.
Gameplay is a mish mash of slobberknocker toe to toe brawling which plays incredibly well, hit detection is superb thanks to EA’s new Ignite engine last seen on FIFA and you haven’t felt utter satisfaction until you have knocked your opponent out with a spinning elbow to the jaw. Face buttons are left and right punches and kicks whilst the shoulder buttons and triggers act as head, body and super modifiers as well as a block button Taking things down to the ground however and that where things start getting messy. The ground game turns into a thumb stick wiggle fest with the game relying on quarter circle motions to perform transitions and submission moves. Getting into a position leaves you little time to perform punches and knees as the AI is constantly trying to gain the upper hand. Ground and pound in the mount position doesn’t feel as brutal as it did on previous games but it’s still satisfying to pull off. Getting your opponent locked in with a submission move triggers an on-screen minigame requiring the right thumb stick to be moved in any direction with the opponent guessing which direction you’re going in to try and match it. It’s a confusing mechanic and i hate to mention it again but the Breaking Point system from WWE games would have been a lot better. Super moves like the Superman punch and the Flying Knee are awesome looking and they can also be performed off the cage wall to make them look more spectacular.
Once you have mastered the controls and are confident with the ground game, you can test your might online, depending on your connection, matches are lag free and knocking out your opponent in these situations knowing the other guy is mashing those buttons is an incredible feeling. The healthy roster now includes the Women’s Bantamweight division and two unlockable fighters, UFC legend Royce Gracie and the legendary Bruce Lee however legends such as Quinton Jackson have been removed.
EA Sports’ UFC is nothing short of a visual spectacle with true to life textures and personalities complete with entrances which are fantastic to watch and can be skipped with zero loading times. The ragdoll physics are gone however so knocking out your opponent looks like they are feinting rather than hitting the floor. Sweat and blood splatters all over the floor now and fighters faces get mashed up pretty hard, i couldn’t fault any of the top notch visuals on display here, truly phenomenal.
EA Sports’ UFC brings the popular MMA sport to the next generation with style. High end true to life visuals which never fail to impress no matter how much you watch them as well as excellent TV style presentation makes it the best looking fighter available. The toe to toe action shines but fades with the iffy ground game and submission minigame. A worthy UFC title.
Story - 4/5
Graphics - 5/5
Gameplay - 4/5
Overall - 4/5
Version reviewed - Xbox One