Thursday, 10 July 2014

EA Sports UFC

Since 2009 THQ has had the financial pleasure of publishing Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) titles under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brand. However, THQ met with liquidation in 2013, which ultimately led to them selling their rights to the UFC brand to EA Sports. Though EA pretty much covers every type of sport, MMA was one that didn't exactly have great experience in. That said, in 2010 EA Sports did in fact release a MMA title on PS3 and Xbox360. Named EA Sport MMA, the game focused on the Strikeforce brand as its main hook. But that didn't suit EA, oh no, as with the growing popularity of UFC across the world, they desperately wanted the rights to it. So through THQ's demise EA got their wish, and now EA will most likely drip feed this franchise out to us on a yearly basis. Despite this inevitability, EA Sports UFC plays fantastically, yet doesn't have any extra content to back up its technical greatness.

Developed by EA Canada -a developed mostly know for their excellent Fight Night series-  comes EA Sports UFC; a detailed, challenging and fun step into the world of the bloody and technical sport that is MMA. Due to it being the same engine used and that it's also developed by EA Canada, EA Sports UFC feels quite a lot like Fight Night. However, EA Sports UFC proves itself to be far more complicated to master, and ultimately a lot more fun to play. EA Sports UFC doesn't try and perfectly replicate the true realism of an MMA match though. With a hint of an Arcade-like qaulity hurled into the gameplay, EA Sports UFC looks and feels utterly real, while also keeping matches short and brief, yet satisfying.

The elephant in the room with anyone reviewing EA Sports UFC is the visuals. They simply must be praised. I know we're not in the previous generation of consoles any more with a game like this, as EA Sports UFC looks absolutely jaw-dropping. Without including DLC fighters, EA Sports UFC has a total of 97 fighters to use. Each one is painstakingly based off their real life counterparts, and everything from facial structure, body shape, muscles and movement is done incredibly well. It's actually pretty eerie at times when controlling these near photo realistic characters, especially since one of them is the Martial Arts legend himself, Bruce Lee. Beyond the characters on screen  there's almost nothing else worth noting here, but that's OK, as EA Sports UFC delivers on the visuals needed to bring the experience from convincing to epically authentic.

Controlling your character is complicated yet fun. While you might be able to get by with button mashing, you won't stand a chance up against another player who has mastered every move. Plus, for those pesky buttons mashers out there, with a nice addition of a stamina meter, spamming powerful moves too fast will drain your fighter, effectively turning them into a punching bag. With this meter put in place, the player is forced to put quite a lot of thought into their next move. Whether it's a weak or heavy kick/punch, grapple or more stamina costly move, reckless players won't stand a chance. From heavy fighters who look like human tanks to purely technical based fighters, EA Sports UFC gives the player quite a lot of breathing room for different play styles. Much like THQ's UFC titles before it, EA have presented us with an MMA title that requires patience and skill.

Career mode is quite lacking, which beyond multilayer, is the only special mode available. You can't customize or make your own fights, you can't play as a female MMA fighter, and is basically very, very boring. With the excellent fighting mechanic put in place here by EA Canada, there is literally nothing else built around it. Perhaps they're doing this on purpose to set the series up for a yearly release, but even still, EA Sports UFC is seriously lacking on any extra content.

Despite having stunning, stunning graphics, a superb and robust multi-player mode, and a fighting mechanic that is a truly excellent start to a new franchise, without much else beyond a mediocre Career mode, EA Sports UFC is both a success and a failure. For what content it does have it's great, but it's lacking in so very much. 

EA Sports UFC wins by default and gets a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

EA Sports UFC at CeX

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