A game like UFC is very niched. You will be playing it only if you are into UFC. It hardly attracts casual fighting game fans, general gamers even less. So if you already like the UFC, follow the fights and the athletes, you will already have an opinion on how a game based on the sport should look like to the eye when being played. Fast and ferocious boxing, rapid takedowns, wrestling and jiu-jitsu on the ground, clinch work against the cage, spectacular knockouts, sometimes a boring ground game going to the decisions, etc. You will be happy to know that this game offers all that in spades. If you have never played a UFC game, like me, this is a great entry point to the world of MMA gaming on consoles as the career mode new to this game is meant to introduce you to the sport seamlessly by taking you through basic drills to make you understand the basics of MMA - striking and grappling, both on the feet and on the ground. Once you get the hang of it, you will be fighting your way up the ladder of competition until you land in the UFC, where you will have to fight against the fighters you have been following all along on TV to win their belts and make a name for yourself. Its nothing new, the most simplistic idea of a career mode, but the involvement comes in through real-world records which you can break by your performance, and by the fact that after every match you will lose a part of your longevity based on the amount of damage you take in the match, and that will determine how long you can play the mode and how many more fights you can take on. Once that meter runs out, you will retire and hope you have done enough to make a name for yourself in the UFC record books.
Character customisations are satisfactory and you can create a variety of looks including changing the location, size, orientation of tattoos on your body to go for the look you want. In addition to that, completing fights inside and outside career mode and advancing your profile level will give you more clothing options which are all unlocked randomly, and can be purchased with coins you get by completing daily, timed, seasonal, online, offline and career objectives. This is still perhaps the biggest positive of this release, a game by EA which has no loot boxes, no ultimate team mode, or microtransactions to give you an edge online. You can only get better in the game by playing it thoroughly enough.
Game modes, as of writing, include the normal MMA mode, an arcade-like knockout mode, offline tournament mode, and online matches like random rules, and championships where all the competition takes place. Its pretty standard stuff but combined with the excellent presentation, a huge library of playable fighters across every division and different arenas, which although doesn't make really a difference, makes up for a ton of matchups and hours of non-repetitive gameplay either with a friend or online. The playable fighters in UFC games have always been stellar with industry standard-setting face scans and full body accuracy up to the tattoos giving a very realistic feel to the presentation.
The negatives of the game lie in the balance. Even though they do release regular patches to tidy up things, occasional glitches are common in certain moves, and balancing the game on the feet and on the ground while grappling is still a challenge. On top of that, this game was released in the tail end of the last-gen and there has been no news of a next-gen update, so certain animations and movements during the presentation feel backdated by now. This is not a bad game by any means. It offers to the new and old fan enough to sink your teeth in for hours on end, if not for anything else then just to get better at it and go online to fight players around the world. But it's not stellar overall and the whole might just be less than the sum of its parts. Still with the developers usually supporting these games for 2 years, by releasing patches and new fighters, it's worthy of being given time and effort to get better and offer something substantial to the UFC fans around the world.