Review

EA Sports UFC Review

  • Game release: June 17, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • PS4

Ring rust.

If you based quality strictly on appearance, EA Sports UFC could be a lock for the top spot, because EA Canada's first crack at a mixed martial arts project captures the atmosphere of a real event. Hard liver shots mirror a pebble being thrown into a still pond, the impact causing skin to ripple across the body. Bruises and cuts form and worsen over the course of a fight, and veins bulge as fighters desperately work to break out of tight guillotine chokes.

It's beautiful violence, but once you grab a controller, the wonder of the gorgeous character models and stomach-churning thuds of punches and kicks quickly wears off. That's because one of the most essential elements of the sport is almost nonexistent inside this virtual Octagon: tension. Where THQ's UFC series allowed each moment of a fight to seem equally dangerous for both combatants, EA Sports UFC's poor balancing makes the moment-to-moment action feel too safe, too often. Vicious knees that would send even the most granite-chinned veteran tumbling to the canvas often land without much effect, and while a fully mounted position on the ground tends to result in either a stoppage or easily won round in real MMA, single-button escapes cause dominant positions to feel flimsy.

You don't have to make the fighter you create look stupid--but it sure does add entertainment value.

Each fight in EA Sports UFC starts on the feet, and for the most part, that's where they stay. The stand-up game--despite its preference for flash over finishing power--is the best way to play. Jumping off the cage and landing flush with a flying knee is devilishly satisfying, while parrying a jab and answering with a devastating overhand-right is enough to get you out of your seat. It can take quite a bit of work to end a fight, but individual animations, whether you're throwing bombs standing up or transitioning on the ground, look natural. If all you want to do is meet in the center of the Octagon, bite down on your mouthpiece, and swing until someone's lights go out, you're at least rewarded with proper hit detection and satisfying contact.

Frankly, it's just about the only way the AI and most online players care to engage. That's because there's no venom in a strong wrestling-based attack. A real fighter rarely flips his opponent over while pinned on his back to land into a prevailing mount, but it happens frequently in EA Sports UFC. Reversing someone who just worked hard to drag you to the mat and trap you in a bad spot shouldn't come from a few swift rotations of the right stick, and while I'd love to be able to move into side control and dig a few well-placed knees in the midsection of another fighter, it's often too difficult to hold anyone down long enough to produce any significant offense.

It was love at first clench.

The grappling game is muted for the most part, but submissions can be a viable option. If you can reach and maintain a dominant position, grabbing a limb or your opponent's neck leads to a minigame that determines the success of a technique. A giant octagon appears on the screen as the defending fighter looks to push one of the four corners far enough to break the hold, while the jiu-jitsu practitioner fights to hyperextend the limb to force a tap. Stamina, along with the individual fighter's skill with a particular move, determines each scramble's success, and if you can actually stay on the ground long enough to find an opening, submissions are a valuable weapon.

Baffling design decisions aren't exclusive to the offensive side of the game, either. Players can slip and parry punches, but when it comes to blocking strikes, holding a single button stops high, middle, and low blows. Fighters can't regain stamina when in a defensive stance, making it unwise to continually hold your hands up to defend your noggin. Yet the lack of multiple levels of blocking reduces the effectiveness of intelligent combinations. Throwing a flurry of low kicks, digging into the body, and then surprising your foe with a fight-ending head kick is a strategy that often works in both real MMA and THQ's Undisputed series, but unless your dance partner decides to let go of the block button, all of these strikes in UFC are too easily blocked.

A real fighter rarely flips his opponent over while pinned on his back to land into a prevailing mount, but it happens constantly in EA Sports UFC.

The AI isn't exactly defense-minded, so standing and banging is an almost surefire method for success. I managed to capture the lightweight title by knocking out each contender in the first round while playing through the game's career mode, which throws your customized character into the Ultimate Fighter reality series and follows him to the end of his career. Without fail, I walked to the center of the cage, blocked incoming strikes, threw heavy leather whenever there was an opening, and ended the fight without the need for judges. I never lost a single fight, and this was all on the game's hard mode.

Starting as an untested prospect and fighting your way to the top might sound like an appealing single-player offering, but unfortunately, climbing the ladder is a slog. Training camps between individual fights are padded with dull training exercises and awkward video clips from real-life fighters. Current stars of the UFC patting you on the back in between fights comes off as both gimmicky and unnecessary, and while it can be fun to improve both your stats and your stockpile of techniques, the tutorial-esque drilling sessions are an uninspired chore.

Click above for more images of EA Sports UFC.

Online play is your best bet for competitive, interesting matches. I experienced only brief periods of lag over the course of more than 30 fights, and while I still rarely saw opposition shoot in for a takedown, there was at least a bit more diversity inside the cage. The career and online modes are the meat and potatoes of the experience, and it's not exactly a filling dish.

The graphical foundation is in place, but there are too many flawed combat systems to call this a strong debut for what's sure to be an annualized series. EA Sports UFC manages to make only certain aspects of MMA both fun and functional, forcing most fights to play out in a familiar, brawling fashion. Even if you do enjoy swinging for the fences, there's just not enough content here to justify the full retail price. It might look the part of a world champion, but EA Sports UFC will need a great deal of fine-tuning before it's up to snuff.

The Good
Character models are gorgeous
Typically smooth animations
The Bad
Grappling is muted
Strikes aren't powerful enough
Dull career mode
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Josiah Renaudin has watched every UFC event since 2007, spending most Saturday nights glued to the TV. He's deeply invested in the sport, and often fruitlessly tries to properly grapple and box in real life. For the purposes of this review, Josiah earned the UFC lightweight belt and fought in more than 30 online fights.

Discussion

282 comments
watchdogsrules
watchdogsrules

how this game got a 5.........i will never know.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@KHAndAnime 

Also, read this:

GameFAQs: Video of Standard Blocking Issue

The respondents have mentioned that it works to some degree, and that exploiting lets a player get ready to perform counter-attacks just in case the other player attempts to work around the block.

You can say that you can beat up a player who tries to use the block issue, but what about players who know this issue and can see counters to blocks, e.g. throws, coming?

KHAndAnime
KHAndAnime

Gamespot's review on this game is trash. If you know what you're doing, the grappling is anything but "muted", and strikes are anything but lacking power. Genuinely sounds like the reviewer never really learned how to play the game effectively, so he didn't have much fun with it. It's not a super-easy game to play, and the mechanics require a lot of practice before you know how to effectively win through grappling.


Unlike previous UFC games I've played, this one actually has a responsive online component, allowing for fluid matches unlike any other UFC game released in existence. Out of all the UFC games I've played, this one is easily the most fun. Don't base your purchase decision exclusively on this silly review. Read other reviews, they're generally a lot more positive than this one.

FighterforJC
FighterforJC

If you're looking for an MMA sim, this game is for you.  Don't believe Gamespot's or IGN's review, which was done by an arcade player.  Let me explain.  The "danger" that the reviewer misses is NOT the danger you'd typically associate with MMA-- one mistake is all it takes.  That kind of danger is very well present in EA Sports UFC.  The "danger" the reviewer was talking about was the "danger" HE imposes on others by SPAMMING.  No longer can you trap your opponent in an inescapable Muay Thai clinch and knee him until he gets KO'd, and no longer can you sit on your opponent forever.  It takes timing and skill to lay and pray, and it most definitely takes timing and skill to knock someone out during standup.  The reviewer is a sworn spammer whose spamming tactics are completely useless in EA Sports UFC.  If you're a sim player you'll find EA Sports UFC to be the most realistic MMA game on the market.  The AI is also lightyears ahead of UFC Undisputed 3's.  It behaves realistically (not the unstoppable wall of death from Undisputed 3 that forced you to either run or engage in an all out, rock 'em sock 'em slugfest) and reacts believably.

gdainezi
gdainezi

I think ground game should be a fast paced turn based game, like toribash, in a sense. Both players should choose their actions in a short timespan and for every turn, the best decision should win. This way the game would feel more realistic, like the struggle to gain or mantain a certain position. 

gunnmetal
gunnmetal

i played the demo do you still need a PHD to remember all the controls?

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

MMA, should have HUGE risk vs reward mechanics in it for every single move you try, MMA should not be a button masher. Everything you do, should have a risk factor. You should be able to spot openings to in the opponents defense. Fight Night 2 had a decent risk vs reward system with countering and counter punching, If you crossed right , the opponent could counter right and nail you, if you time it wrong or even if you time it right, they could nail you.They need to find that in a UFC game both on the ground and on the feet. 


Also fight night wasnt so sped up either, yet it was still tremendously fun. UFC seems sped up. 


They have the graphics down, like always. But the actual realism in the fighting isnt there. its an arcade button masher. Which is fine if thats what you want. I want a bit more of the MMA chess match/ risk vs reward realism, in a UFC game.

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

give it to 2K please. They actually try and create the sport, not just a game.

Chronologo
Chronologo

What a surprise (yeah, sure), EA are the reverse alchemists, they transform gold into crap

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

"A real fighter rarely flips his opponent over while pinned on his back to land into a prevailing mount, but it happens frequently in EA Sports UFC."


That's because UFC is fake (like pro-boxing, rigged outcomes) and this game is simulating the way a pro-wrestling game would, ie treat the match as though it were legit.

Keitha313
Keitha313

5/10 is generous to say the least.

usoxmerkx206
usoxmerkx206

This game was fun for me until i played career mode. Career mode is the biggest POS of ive ever seen thanks a lot EA.If its in the game EA will make sure not to put it in.

andmcq
andmcq

What a surprise, EA fucked it up. I really thought they'd be able to see the benefits of growing this into a billion $ sports game but apparently they're too dense to realise that a little extra effort in their games would go a long way.

Gixzr
Gixzr

Ok this is perfect for the need for gameplay = #1 most important (fun factor). Member the early gta games, graphics were horrid - but it was damn fun.  

So the graphics are set so hopefully the next ufc will have all the mechanical stuff worked out-  

                    I was so looking fwd to this EA   :(

Jimbowesker
Jimbowesker

Sadly, UFC games have been struggling to find their identity in this new gen of gameplay. I haven't thoroughly enjoyed a UFC game to date. The closest for me would be UFC Undisputed 3 and it only interested me in reenacting the classic battles that have already taken place. It disappoints me that its still in this failure stage because UFC is exciting and has the potential to be an amazing experience if done right especially with the next gen consoles that are now available. Maybe next year......... ;(

Orgodemir
Orgodemir

The sad thing is, the best UFC game to me was on the Sega Dreamcast and they still haven't figured it out years later. I mean what's the point of next gen technology if you only use it for the graphics.

xstation4one
xstation4one

But, is it 1080p and 60fps?? THAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT PART, NOT IF IT'S FUN! Derp!

Spartan-1657
Spartan-1657

While I normally don't disagree with reviews since they are just information, I do disagree with some of the information in this review.

The most glaring mistake in this review is the blocking. Yes, you can hold down one button, but that's for newcomers. You cant block effectively at all. While holding block, there's 2 other options to block better. Holding triangle or square (X and Y on xbox) does much higher levels of blocking head strikes and if timed correctly, will parry the opponent and give you a massive advantage. Pressing X or circle (A and B on xbox) while blocking will much more effectively defend the lower body with the same parrying result if pulled off properly.

There's a trade-off for this sort of system. If you try to do a heavier low-block and the strike is actually for your face, you will get slammed. Same goes for the opposite. And that makes sense to me.

I have matched up against people that just hold block and have had absolutely zero difficulty in punching their face off. This information was in the quick 5 minute tutorial, as well as information as how to how to block transitions and such on the groundgame. I will agree it is too easy to get out of that though. Wouldn't rate this as low as a 5. That's a pretty harsh score.

flyinb11
flyinb11

I think some expect too much "realism" from sports games. I find this game to be a lot of fun. I mostly play online though. I'm not a huge UFC fan, but was still able to get decent at this with some practice.

flyinb11
flyinb11

I actually think this is a hard game to review. My opinion after a month of learning the game is much different from my first week with it. I'm hooked.

wwstar30
wwstar30

@KHAndAnime exactly why do they let people review this game that played it for 5 mintues and dont understand how to even play it. This review is disrespectful to the gaming community and I am glad i bought and learned how to play this game before i read all the terrible reviews. 

flyinb11
flyinb11

I'm not even an mma fan and love it. Unlike the UFC3. It's easy to play, but takes time to master. Making it very addicting and gives a feeling of accomplishment.

wwstar30
wwstar30

@FighterforJC  agreed this review was obviously based on 5 mintues of playing the game and never understanding the controls or how to use different setups.

flyinb11
flyinb11

It takes time to master, no doubt.

fredyellowone
fredyellowone

@nyran125tk  God.  That crap again.  Do you remember 2K baseball, and 2K hockey?  Garbage stuff.  No, 2K is not just doing great things.

Chronologo
Chronologo

@Orgodemir Ulti Man was one though SOB. I remember the hours and hours I spent in that game, pretty fun not even the PS2 ones that I got later got me so hooked in as that one.

179107199999
179107199999

@Orgodemir Nintendo is going more for gameplay yet they're still failing. No one cares about gameplay. It really is just grahics and traditonal play.the masses don't want to embrace anything new. 

wwstar30
wwstar30

@xstation4one its fun if you actually play it and not judge it based on someone elses opinion another complete dumbshit here

fluffy_puppy666
fluffy_puppy666

@xstation4one u mad just because my old videocard runs anything 1080p 60fps and your toy runs your dudebro shooter at 1 frame per year -1p.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Spartan-1657 

Then how do you explain away videos like this? (YouTube video ID: bhOvvf0UNVY)

Also, there had been people saying that the blocking problem occurs if the fighter which is blocking is standing still. (Gamefaqs Boards no. 718272-/69521739?page=1)

hardvibes
hardvibes

@WolfgarTheQuiet @gunnmetal Sim doesn't mean you have to push 10 buttons together and go nuts just to make a simple kick!!!!!  Read Polygon's review http://www.polygon.com/2014/6/26/5846322/ea-sports-ufc-review-xbox-one-ps4


While there's a significant and tangible sense of payoff and progress in EA Sports UFC's career mode, as well as every individual fight that I've had in the game, it's an uphill climb through the most maddeningly complicated control scheme I've ever encountered in a game.

The controls aren't just complex; they're overwhelming. On my feet, it was often as much as I could do keep up with my expanding repertoire. Every button on the controller is used, but more, they're often used in tandem with other buttons. If I wanted to do a roundhouse kick to the midsection — my bread and butter for my UFC career — I had to hold the left trigger and back on the left stick, and hit the A button.

This isn't even a complicated move, by EA Sports UFC standards. That's left to more over-the-top and, in my experience, less useful moves, the capoeira kicks, the flying roundhouses. For flashier moves, UFC demands commensurate finger gymnastics, requiring you to hold at least one trigger, a bumper, be pushing the stick in a direction — or no direction at all! — and then hitting the appropriate face button.

I mostly stuck to the simpler moves. It was the only the way to keep my sanity amid what UFC was offering me, though the game did little to explain why any of it might be necessary or useful — more on that later.

That sanity was casually flung aside whenever I was drawn into a clinch (where the two fighters grapple with one another standing), or, in a recurring nightmare of profanity and frustration, taken to the mat for EA Sports UFC's infuriating ground-game mechanics.


Getting to the ground requires a string of right stick shoves, half-circles and, I'm convinced, dark ritual magic if you want to consistently find success. Computer opponents have much less trouble getting you on your back, and once there, regaining your footing requires ... well, I'm not actually sure. I think that clicking the left stick and holding it in a direction is what makes it happen, but UFC is content to merely gesture in the vicinity of instruction here.

I'll reiterate this, because it's easily the biggest failing of EA Sports UFC's inaugural outing. It has the single most complicated control scheme of any game I've ever played, and addresses one of the most sophisticated one-on-one competitive sports in existence. But EA Sports UFC does an absolutely abysmal job of: one) teaching you how any of its moves work or what the logic behind its control scheme is beyond low, mid and high attacks, and two) explaining why you should be doing any of the things you can do.

timothydcooks
timothydcooks

@atopcomputers @nyran125tk  but the game is nothing like chess though. Basically rock'em sock'em game till one of characters randomly gives in 1/10 not realistic enough for me.

xstation4one
xstation4one

my comment should be here: thanks mobile gamestop site:Since you do not seem to spot sarcasm, I will explain to you my point: Even if games are stunning or graphically impeccable, it is worth squat if the gameplay is bad, glitchy or empty story wise....that was my point. Most people, even developpers, seem to only care about graphics. Most games are still bad though, visually pretty, but bad...the 1080p war is futile, there should be a war or protest for better gameplay quality! anyways...its a nice day outside, nice chatting with you.Edit (in 5 minutes)

KHAndAnime
KHAndAnime

@Gelugon_baat @Spartan-1657 Blocking is like that in most fighting games. You want blocking to be effective, no? Damage is still dealt to the blocker, so if the attacker is performing quick strikes instead of combo's like in that video, the defender simply takes damage until he's lost the match. I'd love if someone defended like that the entire match against me, it would be an easy match. It would help a lot if you posted videos by people who actually knew how to play the game.

fluffy_puppy666
fluffy_puppy666

@xstation4one It is makes no sense to develop something that you are not able to see and play like developers want you to see. I get what your point, performance and sharpness alone won't make a good game, but a good game 99% of the time is a much better experience with decent performance and sharpness (unless the developers make a game that is supposed to be a blurry slideshow, and i don't think this is a common concept for a game). Of course there are the pixerlated hispter games that will perform well in any platform, but the "1080p60fps" debate is about the eyecandy type of game. I know that you personaly don't think that eyecandy is such an important thing, but to tell you the truth, the eyecandy is a big part of the experience for me. I mean, games are interactive audiovisual media, interaction to me is as important as the audiovisual presentation to me. I don't think that a game needs to perform well and look sharp to be pretty, this is a subjective matter, but with the fast evolution of computer graphics i find it comprehenssible that developers want their games to be technologically advanced on a computer graphics standpoint.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@KHAndAnime 

Oh, I post them? How about you post them instead, since you have played it?

EA Sports UFC More Info

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  • First Released
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    UFC Ultimate Fighting Championship is a mixed martial arts fighting game that will use the new EA Sports Ignite engine.
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    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
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    Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence