Ah nothing like a brand new video game to bring out the inner child in us all. While we still have to wait a while longer for the official release of the newest UFC game, set to drop June 17, EA Sports was kind enough to let us wet our beaks with a demo. My friends and I have gone toe to toe on UFC Undisputed 3 on many occasions, and it is from this vantage point that I will be drawing most of my parallels and observations. From the technical details to overall pros and cons, here is my review of EA Sports UFC.
After booting up the demo for the first time and getting past the load screen and initial menu, I was immediately launched into an interview with Jon Jones. The light heavyweight champ discussed what it takes to be an ultimate fighter and the experience of being inside the Octagon. For those of you who aren't familiar with Undisputed 3, there are a number of cut sequences like this within the previous installment of the game. As you progress through your career, you unlock different video clips of fighters discussing various topics. Everything from how to deal with your first loss to how to defend your title for the first time was covered as fans got an exclusive look into the inner workings of the fighter mentality.
From the promos I've seen of the EA Sports game, this feature will definitely be included, as fighters will send your created fighter personal messages throughout their career. While I'm sure these will remain generic and probably a bit annoying after a while, it's not a bad idea. After all, who doesn't want to get a personal pep talk from Chael Sonnen?
After the video concluded, a fight began between Jones and Gustafsson; a fight that may not happen now according to recent reports that Jones is holding out for Cormier. Nevertheless, it's happening in the game, as the two cover athletes go toe to toe for the first time in the digital world.
Not so fast.
First, we must complete a fairly simply, albeit long winded demo of the control system (shout out to Ab-Soul). My first impression was not a great one. While it was relatively easy to use, there were far too many flashy moves, even for Jon Jones, and it gave the game a sort of cartoony feel. I'm sure it'll be tons of fun to throw axe kicks at your friends, but it somehow took away from the realism for me. Call me a stickler, but that's one thing that Undisputed 3 did very well. Advanced techniques were just that; advanced.
As you progress through the tutorial further, the grappling begins. The grappling system was very similar to Undisputed 3 when it came to transitions and striking from the clinch or on the ground. It takes a series of right thumb stick movements to advance to a more dominant position and better position yourself for a submission or devastating ground and pound.
Submissions are a totally different system, while following the same general concept as Undisputed 3. In Undisputed, submissions were implemented/defended with a sort of 'chase' system in which players would move a bar around a circle. If the two bars overlapped, then the submission would become tighter but if the two bars were separate, it would become loser. The bars would shrink over time giving the attacker a limit as too how long they can attempt a particular submission.
In the EA Sports game, submissions consist of four directions (up, down, left, and right). The defender's job is to hold the thumb stick in any one of these directions until the corresponding meter fills up and the submission is escaped. As the attacker, your job is to match whichever direction the defender is going, thus stopping the meter from filling up in that particular direction. In essence, submissions are a copy-cat game in which a defender tries a bunch of directions until they can finally get far enough ahead of the attacker to escape. It's going to take some getting used to, but at first glance, I actually think it's a pretty good system.
The other change to the submission game is the stages. Instead of a one-off mini game, there are multiple levels before a submission can actually lead to a tap out. If the attacker succeeds in blocking the defender's escape attempts, then the next phase of the submission begins and the meters are reset to zero. This continues for a couple iterations until the submission is finally locked in and completed.
From the attackers perspective, you just need to hold on long enough for an indicator to pop up in one of the four directions. Once this happens, you simply flick the left thumb stick in that direction to move onto the next stage of the submission.
Boom, tutorial over, Dana White tells me I now have enough information and to have fun. I'm ready for a real fight. Well... a real video game fight anyway.
Truth be told, I forgot a lot of the controls. I found myself button mashing and forgetting my technique. Coach is gonna be pissed. Either way, I now had my first pro fight under my belt. Tough luck that it had to be a title fight, but who really knows what goes through Joe Silva's head when he books these things.
Now, without further ado, here's my list of pros and cons for the game, in addition to an overall grade. This is my first and likely only video game review so the grade means nothing, as there is nothing to compare it do. As a result, let's just call it a B.
Pros and Cons:
+ Brand new, innovative submission system.
+ Vastly improved graphics showing everything from flying sweat to accrued damage.
+ Familiar to those who enjoyed Undisputed 3, yet unique enough for a new experience.
- Excessively advanced moves can, at times, give the game a cartoon-like feel.
- Generic in-game interviews/clips can become a bit redundant and annoying.
- I lost my first fight so this game stinks.