Watching two fighters locked into an octagon and both aren't coming out until one is declared a better fighter than the other has a primal feeling to it. Two people will batter, hurt, and possibly make the other one bleed as thousands of people look on. Sure it may be barbaric but damn if it hasn't taken over the world. EA Sports UFC 2 is their second outing with the UFC license and in every single way it's better than the original.
Developed by EA Canada and out now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, UFC 2 looks incredible. Muscles flex, skin tightens, and meat caves to the impact of fists and kicks. Fighters look incredibly lifelike and bruising, swelling, and cuts form in real time with impressive and graphic detail. What makes all of this even more impressive is the fact the UFC 2 features more than 250 fighters all with the same amount of detail creating not only the most impressive fighting rosters ever but the best looking one too.
When you finally put your fists up in the octagon, you really start to feel the improvements over the last iteration. The standing game is nothing short of spectacular. The standing game adopts a physics-based system meaning one well place punch or kick can turn the tide if the battle. In fact, it all looks and feels so impressive that getting brought into a clinch and having the fighting taken to the mat almost always feels frustrating because you'll want to get back on your feet to brawl it out again. Knockouts look devastating as one well place punch can drop your opponent awkwardly to the ground. No canned animations here. The ground and submission game has been simplified over the last game. No longer are there awkward quarter-circle motions on the analogue stick to wriggle out of a half-guard or get back on your feet. This aspect of the game though still isn't incredibly exciting but it remains technical enough for those that enjoy the strategy involved with this part of the fight.
Modes have improved but Career Mode in particular has been disappointingly left similar to the last outing. You simply choose an opponent, have three training sessions to improve your stats, fight, rinse and repeat. To make things not be so laborious once you complete any of the mini-games and happy with the ranking you can simply simulate it each time and gain the same benefits. There are some small variables added to the career but it's nothing to make it feel different to the last iteration.
The most enjoyable mode in UFC 2 is the Knockout Mode. This modes removes the grappling entirely and essentially turns it into a standing match where your goal is to knock out your opponent. Rather than the stamina and damage meter, this mode has a simple pool of health and once it reaches zero then you're knocked out. This being the most enjoyable part of the game says it all. The mode that removes the simulation and most of the mixed martial arts aspects of it is what's worth playing. It's hard to make the strategic combat enjoyable and honestly I'm not sure they'll ever get there. Playing this game and this mode in particular made me just want a new Fight Night game instead of more UFC.
There's an Ultimate Team mode but it's addictive nature of opening cards to unveil something awesome is only ever a more effective attack or improved stats. It's not that enjoyable and chances are it won't keep your attention for very long.
Far from a knockout. 3/5.
UFC 2 at CeX
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