Feature Article

How Realistic Is EA Sports UFC 2?

Train like a fighter.

Mixed Martial Arts is an incredibly technical sport. In the Octagon, fighters are forced to make multiple decisions and execute difficult physical moves in seconds. But would real-life training in MMA make you better at playing EA Sports UFC 2? I had the opportunity to find out, thanks to a day of intense physical MMA training with a veteran UFC fighter, followed by a hands-on session with EA Sports UFC 2 on PlayStation 4.

First and foremost: I am far from a professional fighter. While I boxed recreationally for the latter half of 2015, my experience with other combat sports is practically non-existent. My MMA training consisted of three sessions, focusing on teaching the fundamentals of striking and grappling. It was a condensed crash-course in the martial art, and it required me to get up and close personal with people I barely knew. Nothing like introducing yourself to someone, tackling them to the ground, pinning their limbs, and choking them out as a means of getting to know them!

By the end of the day I had gained a newfound appreciation of how truly complex the sport is. Matches aren't as straightforward as simply tackling somebody to the ground and punching until the referee intervenes; making such a careless move would leave multiple openings for a skilled fighter to counter and use any exposed body areas to their advantage. Using the knowledge I had gained from punching, kicking, and choking my training partners in the Octagon, I jumped into UFC 2 with gusto.

Training had started with basic striking combos. It was natural, then, that the first few combos I tested in-game consisted of strikes. Closing the distance between myself and my opponent proved tricky, as they consistently danced out of reach with solid footwork, although it was a relatively easier task in-game. With less of an emphasis on exact positioning, the game simply needed me to tap the left analog stick in my preferred direction. Opting for a more aggressive strategy, I bull-rushed my opponent and went on the offensive with a combination of punches and kicks, concentrating particularly on my opponent's leg.

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UFC 2 provides you with tools real fighters don't have, with the HUD featuring a body chart which highlighted parts that had sustained damage. With that extraneous information, I could see that my opponent's character was suffering a lot of punishment on the left leg, something which may have been better hidden in a real fight. With that information I honed in on it, and when the leg finally gave way, I went in for a takedown.

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I had favoured the grappling section of my MMA training, so maybe that's why I liked the options that opened up once the fight shifted to the ground game. Forcing my opponent to the ground would have opened up many choices in real-life, a lot of which get very technical in MMA. Instead of presenting what could have been a lengthy list of potentially overwhelming terminology for follow-up moves, however, EA Canada's answer to this was to present a few selections which seemed to be based on the context of my grapple position. As a result, I was still given a fair amount of choice without being inundated by with options in the heat of the moment.

My choices resulted in my fighter shifting speedily from a half-guard position to a full mount, and then being rolled into a submissive position, all in quick succession. Watching all the transitions happen one after another in a short time span made me feel fatigued, but my fighter was able to continue them effortlessly like a superhuman with endless pools of stamina. Evidently some liberties had been taken with the speedy mount transitions, but like in real-life, these cannot be defended pre-emptively. Speaking to creative director Brian Hayes provided some insights into the changes made to the ground game after the previous UFC game.

"This has been new not just to us but [to] anybody that's attempted to express jiu-jitsu and wrestling virtually with 3D animated characters," Hayes said. "You could very often be in jiu-jitsu situations where you cannot see 98 percent of your opponent if they're pushing your chin away and you happen to be on your back. Visual feedback is not what you're looking for, you're trying to feel where they are. It's always been a challenging thing to translate something like that into a medium where we can only give the user visual feedback."

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In UFC 2, the analog sticks help compensate for this lack of physical feedback. To successfully transition to another position, I needed to quickly use the left analog stick to move in my chosen direction and the right stick to select what transition I would use--both relatively easy actions to execute within a few seconds.

"Now you just have to push the left stick to the left to see your fighter move in that direction and attempt to transition in that direction. You might not succeed in getting to the end point if your opponent does something before you do, but it just is a little bit more intuitive not necessarily from a Brazilian jiu-jitsu sense, but from a video game sense. Many users are used to the idea that you push this stick in a direction to go there. And that's the system we're trying to bring to life," Hayes explained.

But I wasn't quite yet victorious. With a personal preference for victories via submission, I went in for an armbar, which triggered a mini-game. To prevent my opponent from breaking free, I needed to defend against attempts to shake me off his character, facilitated by him pressing the analog stick in one of four chosen directions. And to stop him from escaping my hold, I needed to do the same just after he did, lest he break out. Despite my best efforts, the mini-game's timings proved too difficult and my opponent broke free, much to my displeasure. Still, while the day's real-life training had touched upon submissions, I had not executed anything more technical than a choke, so perhaps the mini-game was an accurate depiction of the level of mastery an armbar submission requires.

A submission is not easy to execute, in real-life or in-game.
A submission is not easy to execute, in real-life or in-game.
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7

For all the options presented in the ground game, however, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of options when fighters were pushed up against the cage wall. While the wall game gets less attention in MMA, it still contains some interesting techniques which make use of the environment, something I saw little of in-game during my play session.

While the real-life MMA training was helpful in teaching advantageous techniques to employ in certain positions and gave me better insight into the ground game portion of UFC 2, the advantage did not feel significant. Mastery of the game is better achieved through practice, which I hope to get a lot of when the game launches on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on March 15.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com


Zorine Te

Zorine “harli” Te is an editor based in GameSpot's Australian office. She wants to save the world.
EA Sports UFC 2

EA Sports UFC 2

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41 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for hystavito

"it required me to get up and close personal with people I barely knew"

Reminded me of a news story I saw today about a teen who claims (no way to know for certain I guess) that he contracted herpes from competing in high school wrestling.

Avatar image for ps3gamer1234

My favorite part of game is to play two player and punch and kick the standing still punching bag.

Avatar image for kazeswen

Submissions don't work for video games, its boring as fck. Even on TV its boring as fck, imagine playing it.

I got the first UFC cause of Bruce Lee, but its the last UFC game I will ever get.

The submission gameplay was beyond awful.

Avatar image for skipper847

Is this the PG version :P

Avatar image for agy83

submissions sucks...wrestling sucks..thats why ufc sucks...ea make k1 game!

Avatar image for DrunkenPunk800

That's some of the worst music I've ever heard.

Avatar image for Gaming-Planet

It's John Cena!

Avatar image for Zloth2

@Gaming-Planet: What? Where? I can't see him! ;)

Avatar image for ohjtbehaaave

Will give this game a look... but really hoping for a new Fight Night game to come to PS4 and Xbox1 in the near future.

Avatar image for simplesurf7

@ohjtbehaaave: Yes! A new Fight Night is the current gen game I've been waiting for (among a couple others). Really hope they show us some PC love in the near future.

Avatar image for lfebaggins

Well in that cover image it shows Ronda winning a match

So no, not very realistic

Avatar image for madcat_mikie

@akassassin11: Yeah, she did only lose once. people are just fickle and petty.

Avatar image for lfebaggins

@madcat_mikie: That one loss meant a lot to the girl who thought she'd ride undefeated her whole career

Avatar image for randybumgardner

lots of clones sitting on each other. it is pretty close to the real ufc.

Avatar image for aiden_kasel

I bought a PS4 just for UFC, so obviously i'm going to have a lot of fun with this game with how much of a hardcore MMA fan and gamer I am.

But maaan this game could've been SO much better in terms of realism. This caters too much to "just bleed" fans of MMA, or just generally causal gamers. Should cater more towards hardcore MMA fans like myself and it'll make more people interested and understand the sport itself, everyone would win.

Avatar image for imajinn


"hardcore gamer I am"

"bought a ps4 just for UFC."

Avatar image for aiden_kasel

I'm a PC gamer

Avatar image for FBohler

@imajinn: He's smart, why buy a PS4 if the only exclusive is Bloodborne? You can have it all on PC, no need to put your hands on the hideous DS4.

Avatar image for SpicyRamen10

@FBohler: Yea sure cuz I can play Uncharted, Horizon, R&C, Persona and several others on the PC...do tell me if Quantum Break, ReCore, Killer Instinct (to name a few) are still Xbox exclusive? I've also been hearing that Crackdown and Scalebound might be coming to PC as well. So I do believe there's more "Xbox games" on PC than "PS games".

He may be smart if he's going to buy a system and possibly get other games on it as well. But you're pretty dumb if you really think Bloodborne is the only exclusive the PS4 has.

Avatar image for flames325

Was gonna buy this until i seen there was no achievements online just gonna be a rental from gamefly then will wait for it to hit the EA access vault

Avatar image for aiden_kasel

What do you mean by no achievements online? The annoying pop ups that give you a pat on the back for spending more time on games than you should?

Avatar image for flames325

@aiden_kasel: Yet people spend a great deal of time on COD online that has no achievements so you make a stupid point there.If people don't like them that's fine turn them off for people that do like them gives them another reason to put some extra time into a game.It doesn't effect anyone what so ever either way i just get more of my moneys worth out of those hardcore achievements so i buy my games wisely.I really don't give a damn if you like them or not

Avatar image for Attitude2000

@aiden_kasel: He must be referring to achievements that you can only earn in online matches. I personally don't like those; I'm usualy not good enough to obtain them and by their very nature they are time sensitive.

Avatar image for flames325

@Attitude2000: Yes that's what i meant but not rank match's i meant private against friends of mine that are fans of UFC and achievements

Avatar image for youre_a_sheep

I will never be a fan of mini-games for submissions. I'd rather there be a button you can press at the right instant to counter into one, or have to wear the opponent down. A fresh opponent rarely gets submitted unless they make a mistake, and the game should reflect that.

Avatar image for Stiler

@youre_a_sheep: What? A fresher opponent is more easily submitted. Submissions are harder to do once you're both tired and all sweaty. It's much easier if you get a lock in sub to get it earlier in a fight when you have strength left + the other guy isn't slippery.

Avatar image for Attitude2000

@youre_a_sheep: But the only mistake you could make in tapping a button is not tapping it.

Avatar image for winstondoom

Enjoyable article, props to Zorine !

Avatar image for zorine

@winstondoom: Thank you, I'm very happy you enjoyed it.

Avatar image for transk53

Sounds interesting and may well be the best of its type so far. You are never going replicate what it is like to roll on the mat, but the mini game sounds like it works. Hopefully it will not be frustrating and then become too easy, once the system is worked out by the gamer. The depth of BJJ as a system is comprehensive, let alone then add striking and kicking.

Avatar image for tracer420

@transk53: Played the beta ground game is terrible should just copied thq control scheme.

Avatar image for Airrean

@tracer420: They actually didn't its nothing like the THQ control scheme, that would actually make the game good, THQ didn't have a bar you had to fill up before you transitioned, What THQ game were you playing WWE lol

Avatar image for tracer420

@Airrean: I said they should just copy thq control scheme. I know I have played the new game.Next time try to read before u comment.

Avatar image for dfernand

I'm more of a boxing fan and have been hoping for this console gen's Fight Night but I'll wait and see with this one..

Avatar image for deactivated-5887c3545bd6c

@dfernand: fight night is dead, the team is making the ufc games besides fight night was a terrible representation of boxing

Avatar image for bak_sok

@haze0986: I don't thing so. I enjoyed it very much.