EA UFC Review: Over-Under

EA UFC is a collection of small problems that add up to a large one.

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One of the key components of being a successful fighter is fluidity. Ironically, fluid is not a word that should be used to describe EA UFC.

It’s difficult to justify the sloppiness that EA UFC tends to exhibit in what should be the simplest of circumstances. When you first start the game up, it’s incredibly easy to be fooled by the polish; the tutorial alone feels like a huge improvement over previous UFC games. As soon as that’s all done, however, you’re left to your own devices.

EA UFC is a collection of small problems that add up to a large one. It all starts with the menus, oddly.
Menus are difficult to do right, but they’re also difficult to do poorly. EA UFC’s menus, for whatever reason, are choppy and laggy. This is an issue that seems specific to career mode, presumably because of any autosaving that goes on between sections of the menu. You would think that with the power of the new generation of consoles that this wouldn’t be an issue. You would be wrong.
There are other framerate issues with the actual fights themselves. I’m unsure if there’s any one specific issue that causes this, or if it can be patched out, but it’s an annoyance for sure. Minor stuttering during a fight can cause an input to simply be ignored, resulting in your fighter merely standing still instead of attacking.

You have absolutely no assistance from any of your cornermen between rounds.

A lot of the negative things I found while playing EA UFC are mostly detail-oriented, given that I am a fan of MMA. Here’s a handful of them for you:
There only appeared to be 2 referees modeled, Yves Lavigne and Mario Yamasaki. Unless you set the clock to “accelerated rate”, almost every fight will be finished – you will almost never see a decision. You have absolutely no assistance from any of your cornermen between rounds. Your entire team is actually barely even present, aside from post-fight photo-ops. The only emphasis on your team comes in the form of small clips from the “who’s who” of the UFC between matches; small bits of encouragement. The irony is that there is a quote from Nate Diaz during the loading screens explaining that MMA is a team sport, as you have many people giving you help leading up to the actual match.

In the spirit of looking at what EA UFC does well, here are some of the things that I actually liked about it:
The training minigames are significantly shortened in comparison to previous UFC titles. The catch there is that 99% of being a fighter is training. Career Damage is back – take too many “significant strikes” and you will be forced into retirement, presumably due to pugilistic dementia. The new submission system is decent, but still feels awkward, as you must hold the right analog stick and flick the left one while on offense; the actual technique of how to pull off a submission is ultimately irrelevant. Counter-striking is incredibly effective, just as it is in real life.

Graphically, this is the best UFC game to date.

Graphically, this is the best UFC game to date.

There are two major blunders that I am actually surprised EA left out of their game: home field advantage and injuries.
No matter where the fight takes place or how many fans you have, the crowd never seems to cheer any louder for you than when you first break into the UFC. This is unforgiveable, in my eyes, given that EA has made countless sports titles in which the home team’s crowd goes ballistic for them – which is something that happens in real life too. Ever see a Georges St. Pierre fight in Montreal? Just listen to the crowd when he fights there instead of Las Vegas. Psychological edges in real life are hard to translate into a game, but the effort would have been nice.
It’s astounding to me that EA UFC does not have an injury system, considering how often fighters will fight injured. Being a fan of UFC, you probably hear at least once a month that somebody is fighting with a broken hand. Or a broken rib. Or you see someone’s leg get snapped in half. The fact that you can’t even be injured after getting knocked out by a flying knee or brutal armbar submission is just silly, sloppy, and ultimately negligent.

I can’t help but shake the fact that EA decided to simply ignore a lot of seemingly minor things in order to get the game out. It’s as if they hoped that the player would just overlook a lot of the things that have been left out. Sadly, people that are even remotely familiar with the MMA scene and community will likely be let down.