EA Sports UFC Review

EA Sports UFC Review

Written by: King DX on June 21, 2014.
So where the hell do we start?

Without wasting a bunch of time I'll say if you are not an MMA fan then you should wait for perhaps UFC 2 when much needed improvements have been made. There is a steep learning curve and a ton of moves to remember. You will not go into this game playing it like it's Street Fighter. This is not a fighting game that just anyone can pick up and play. So let's go ahead and get into the different aspects of the game and we will let you form your own opinions.

That's a pretty bad cut over his eye!

"Uhh How?"

Presentation

The game looks great but sadly only runs at 30fps. I have noticed several frame drops while moving around the octagon. Dropped frames really hurt any "fighting" game and I really wish they would have gone for 60fps or at least made sure there was a locked 30fps. Shadows are great, the lighting feels right and even the fighters seem to be modeled fairly accurately. One thing to note is that I have never been so sick of motion blur in my life. Just grabbing a simple still frame from the game is blurry. There is a such thing as overkill EA.

The menus are simple enough to get through but there is a lack of direction. Jumping into some menus give you the same information as a window you just left. In multiplayer doing a quick match you can see your opponents fighter and figure out what side they are on before the match starts. In Ranked mode however you only see yourself and if the opponent picks the same fighter as you, prepare for a very awkward 5 seconds of figuring out who you are.

The problems get worst when the game is giving you wrong information. In the video below we are told by the game that an uppercut is done while using the L2 button. Well the L2 button is a body modifier and while holding it your fighter always attacks the body. So why is Jon Jones doing a standing uppercut? Simple, the information is wrong. Even in a few of the challenge modes I noticed that the input I was told to do was off and cost me to fail a few of the challenges multiple times.


Luckily Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg deliver just like they do during a pay-per view. Sadly Joe doesn't blow up about bad calls but maybe I should play in the Vegas arena more often. The game however either has a glitch in its system or just has very bad hit detection because on multiple instances I have started a brand new match, parried the first punch thrown and immediately heard Joe say "That's a pretty bad cut over his eye!" Uhh How? I haven't been hit. That was the only punch thrown and it didn't even touch me. Okay. Little things like this happen constantly and becomes very noticeable as you play more and more. It's a minor issue but one I felt should be brought up.

Overall the presentation looks great but is lacking good user flow. Having a faulty move list is just unacceptable and will lead to user frustration. EA you need to fix that ASAP!.


Striking

The striking uses 2 buttons for punches(left and right) and 2 buttons for kicks. All of the fighters feel mostly different and have a variety of strikes. Modifiers by using the L1, L2 and R1 buttons allow you to change your arsenal for more focused and stronger attacks. These attacks burn more stamina but deal more damage if they connect. Successfully landing kick to the body or elbow to the face is very satisfying when it hits. What isn't satisfying is just how tired a fighter becomes after throwing one or two punches. Somehow certain fighters seem to be able to throw punches until the cows come home which really makes the games balance feel completely off.

There is a counter system that allows you to attack your opponent after a parried attack but this counter system is very flawed and useless. The window to actually counter an attack is so huge that it feels like you can block normally and then hit the appropriate high or low counter button before the attack is even thrown while simply holding the buttons. I have countered punches and been hit again before my counter attack has connected. It was put together very poorly and the striking counter is inconsistent with every other counter in the game. The window for countering moves should have been the same across all positions and situations.

Be prepared for slugfest that randomly end from a half-ass punch that barely clips you're nose. The striking has no fluidity and throwing a combination that even looks remotely convincing may happen once in every ten fights. Options to attack parts of your foe make no sense when you take into account that you pretty much heal to full health after every round.You could spend the whole match picking apart your rivals legs only to have them walk out in the 3rd round like nothing happened. So if you are looking for a finish you must rely on attacking either the body or the head which means instead of 3 options you now only have 2 that matter.

Horrible physics make every punch look and feel like a girls gone wild pillow fight. The only time you feel any type of impact from your attacks is after the opponent has been rocked. Speaking of being rocked... I can not for the life of me figure out how the guy that is clearly suffering from a concussion can run so well away from me. Stunning your opponent only for them to escape defeat because you can not walk to them fast enough for the finish is out right dumb. Doing multiple quick steps will not put you close enough to an opponent that is backing up from you to land a finishing blow even when they are no longer able to block. Why can I not catch the guy who doesn't even know where he is?


Grappling

Grappling works by using a series of transitions and counters. These transitions work by using the right analog stick to do quarter circle motions that will move your fighter while they are on the ground. Counters can be done by using R2 and the right analog stick to block certain directions.

When on the ground the game moves into a stacking order in which the game attempts the first move inputted by a player. This could be an attempt to get up or a transition, but regardless once an action has started it is the responsibility of the other player to counter this action. Playing the games single player mode gives you the full experience of being able to control the ground. In a competitive space online or locally, a skilled player can make the ground system appear broken at times. Counters on the ground need to be entered much quicker then when standing up and even when you are expecting the counter and right on the mark, counters don't come out sometime. I told somebody to keep transitioning to the right just so I could get the timing down and it always felt off or a bit unresponsive even locally.

Comparing it to UFC 10 is fair but there is room for improvement and perhaps they should look into a better way to slow the ground game down. Damage to parts of the body should have more weight on the ground and impact who gets the first shot at moving around.

If there is a favorite part of this game for me it is submissions. The submission game is pretty much a game of cat and mouse where the attacker tries to stop the defenders escape by holding the right analog stick in one of 4 directions. It really feels good and natural. There is nothing better then having a game mechanic that is so self-explanatory. You can see more on submissions in the video.


Single Player

Single Player is the one area that works well. Creating your own fighter is fun although they are not allowed into ranked matches(for good reason). Career mode will allow you to square off against several opponents while allowing you to have a fighter with a style that you like. Your enjoyment out of the mode will be based on the level of difficulty you decide on.

The AI is outright reading your inputs. I have no problem with a challenge or the computer making predictions based on what I have done previously to counter my playstyle but this is ridiculous. It is my greatest issue with games these days. Instead of making smart AI that feels unique. EVERY fighter fights the same. Machida doesn't strike you and back away. Mir doesn't pull guard. The AI is just atrocious and pretty much there for you to practice your own moves. If you are looking to get better at the game, playing on hard will not help you at all. Once you have accepted that the AI attacks until a random number generator tells it that now you can land a strike you will be able to live with your loses.

It may sound hypocritical but you can still have a great deal of fun in career mode although the AI really isn't up to par. Single Play will really be what you make of it and as long as you want to have fun the game will give you the opportunity to do so.


"lag is rare and even when it does happen

it is not normally unplayable"

Multiplayer

The meat of the game is multiplayer. EA Sports UFC's online community (on PS4) is an even mix between casual friendly players to godlike angry mofo's who will taunt you with every punch landed. Getting into fights are quick and you never find yourself waiting long to get into a game. A few issues I had with the multiplayer is that picking the weight class that you want to fight in does not determine what class your match will be in. I have never picked bantamweight but I have over 10 fights in that weight class. I really don't mind it but I don't like being given the option and then finding out that option didn't even matter.

Gaining friends is a bit hard as the game fails to add players into your players met list(PS4) and there is no option in the game to view a players profile. This means that you need to write down the persons name and contact them through the friends menu. This is just another one of those little things that just slipped through the cracks and makes the game take more work to enjoy.

The online is broken up into ranks based on belts. The better you do online the higher belt you receive. Weekly tournaments allow you to jump online and fight other players your rank in a "tournament" format. Don't get too excited because tournaments mode basically ask you to win 4 fights in a row to win the tournament. There isn't a ladder visible for you to see and track the fights. Basically you enter tournament mode and wait for the game to give you an opponent. If you lose your tournament match then your out. This is really a mode that has a ton of potential and I hope to see EA expand on it.

There is a ton of depth but lag can make stopping transitions and countering almost impossible. For the most part I still must say that the lag is rare and even when it does happen it is not normally unplayable. The net code is still better then other fighting games like Marvel vs. Capcom but not as good as a game like Killer Instinct.

For all of the gripes about the game, playing other people online is fun. Taking an opponent to the ground or hearing someone scream as knees from the muay thai clinch strike their face is priceless. There are plenty of memories to be had and to me memories make or break any online game. 70% of the times those memories are positive ones and I highly recommend creating your own.


I hope you guys enjoyed our review of EA Sports UFC.
Listen, I still play this game because I am a fan of MMA. If you're a fan then you can make this game work. The issue is that the game just fails to really get any one area right. Every element feels mediocre and needs tuning. There is a huge chance that based on the games foundation that it can be improved on easily. Nothing in the game feels like a bad game design decision, it just seems to me like the game needed another year in the oven to get some much needed polish. Is the game playable? Yes. Is it fun? At times. Will you like it? Depends on your desire to play with your favorite fighters. Should you buy it? If you want the game then yes you should buy it.

The game is still new and I am certain EA is listening to concerns. A patch could change this game for the better. Remember that these are just my thoughts and they will differ from your own. If you have a different perspective or any questions please let us know in the comments below.
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