EA Sports UFC — I Finally Got It!
It took me a while, but I finally got to play EA Sports UFC and, being a UFC fan, I really enjoy it. I may be the only person who remembers, but a couple of years ago, Electronic Arts released EA Sports MMA, which was a game meant to directly compete with the UFC game. When that game was in production, Dana White said that any fighter who signs on to be in EA Sports MMA will be banned from the UFC. Fortunately, Mr. White and EA put their differences aside because they joined together for this years UFC game and, I assume, all of their games for the foreseeable future.
I say fortunately because EA Sports is probably the best developer of sports games, so having them in on making the game means it’s going to be a very realistic representation of being in the octagon, with additional features that only EA Sports can provide. As I play the game, that seems to be exactly the case.
Starting Up the Game
When the game loads up for the first time, you’re taken to a short tutorial that shows you the basics of the game. This teaches you how to strike and block, perform and avoid takedowns, and perform and escape submissions among other things. It’s very helpful because if you were to attempt to just pick up a controller and start playing, you’re sure to get beat fairly quickly.
Once you complete the tutorial, you’re put into, what I’m going to call, a “warm-up fight” so you can put the tools you’ve just learned to the test in an actual 3 round match. I imagine you can skip this fight if you’d like, but I wanted to be sure I had the basics down, so I played it. After winning that first fight, you’re taken to the main menu, which is where you can choose Fight Now, Career, Challenges, Online, or you can choose to do the walkthrough again. Also, from the main menu, you can go to Fighternet, which is where you can watch clips of other peoples highlights and upload your own, Customize, where you can create your own fighter and customize the game settings, and Store, where you can purchase new fighters (Bruce Lee!).
Starting Your Career
After I got through the walkthrough, I went straight to career mode. That may not have been the best move because, though I went through the tutorial and I knew the basics of playing the game, I wasn’t prepared for some of the advanced moves that I’d encounter. Even now, after playing quite a few matches, there are still a lot of things I don’t know how to do. I fully intend on playing through all of the challenges, but I haven’t done that yet (I’ll more than likely update when I’ve done that).
The first thing that you have to do when you start the career mode is create your fighter. I imported my face, using EA Sports Gameface, added some tattoos for good measure, selected the fighting style that I wanted to use, then I started my training. Before you can begin your UFC career, you have to win The Ultimate Fighter, and before your first TUF fight, you’re put through a series of training minigames/sparring sessions. I’m fairly certain that your performance in these first few training sessions is what determines your starting overall level, and where you get picked by The Ultimate Fighter coaches. I didn’t do very well in these sessions (apparently) because I was picked dead last.
I mentioned that the beginning training sessions reflect your starting overall attributes because it seemed like I was way worse than everyone else in the beginning. On my way through The Ultimate Fighter tournament, my fighter seemed to be slower and weaker than the majority of the other fighters I was facing. These were the first fights of my career, so I assumed they’d be a little on the easier side, but I still ended up losing a few (though, it didn’t really matter, I just had to re-try them each time).
Once you win The Ultimate Fighter, you get your first UFC contract, and are able to fight (in the undercard, starting out) at the major UFC events. This is where you fight as best as you can, do the trainings as well as you can (so you can increase your attributes more quickly) and try to become the undisputed champion in your division.
Every fight matters once you sign your UFC contract. If you lose a fight, you’re not able to restart (without quitting the game/turning off your console) and you’ll have a blemish on your record; and, if you lose too many fights, I think your UFC contract can be revoked. I don’t know this for sure, but I actually lost my first fight and I got a message from Dana White saying although I lost, I won’t be fired because I fought very well. This leads me to believe that you can indeed get fired, and will have to start over.
I really like how the training and skill building works in this game, too. You get put into a series of mini games/training exercises, and depending on how well you do in each one, you get points that can be spent leveling up your fighter any way you’d like. So, if you’d like a submission master, but you’re not good at the submission minigame, you’re still able to build that fighter with the points you earn elsewhere.
Inside the Octagon
The actual matches in this game are, what I imagine to be, very authentic to actually fighting in the cage. Though you can’t feel the physical pain of being punched, kicked, or choked, you do feel the emotional highs when you’re doing well, and the lows when your opponent is dominating you. A lot of the time, the game can get very frustrating, but it’s that much better when you come out with a win after a hard fought match.
The first thing I want to mention is the new submission minigame. When you’re attempting to make your opponent tap out, a square appears on screen. Your opponent has to get one of the sides of the square all the way out to the outer edge, while you do your best not to let them, by pushing your right thumbstick in the same direction they’re pointing theirs. Occasionally, a prompt will come up telling you to push the left thumbstick one of the directions. If done correctly, their bars will reset to the starting position, and you’ll lock in the submission a little bit tighter. Do this enough times, and they’ll tap out.
Submissions, though, aren’t easy to accomplish. I want my fighter to be pretty well rounded, but all fights start on the feet, so initially I’m increasing my fighters stand-up attributes. Because of this, my submission stats are sitting at about a 50 and I have yet to be able to even begin the submission process. Once I begin to increase that attribute, I’m confident I’ll get some submission victories, but until then, I just have to be sure not to get put into any submissions myself.
Finishing fights (winning the fight before it has to go to a decision) especially by knockout is incredibly rewarding. It’s not easy to do, sometimes it seems like no matter how many times you hit a person in their face, they just take it in stride. Every once-in-a-while, though, you’ll get a great strike on your opponent and they’ll go down immediately. It’s a feeling that hasn’t gotten old to me yet, especially when it happens after a hard fought round or 2.
(I dominated that last guy for the entire round, check out my YouTube channel for the video of what happened leading up to that KO)
On the other side of things, though, it’s very irritating when you get knocked out. If you’ve been losing for the majority of the fight, getting knocked out sucks, but it’s understandable. However, if you’ve been pretty evenly matched with your opponent, or even worse, if you think you’ve been winning the entire time, that knockout blow really hurts. As good as it feels to knock your opponent out, it’s as bad, if not worse when you get knocked out. Which brings me to my next point.
I mentioned earlier that it can get frustrating because one punch or kick can completely shift the momentum of the match. If you’re doing really well, and you’re swinging away thinking you’re about to get a knockout, it’s possible for you to get hit with a counter strike that could do anything from daze you, to being the knockout punch, kind of like in the video below. This is probably another product of me not playing through the challenges. It took me a couple of matches but I now realize that even though your opponent may be hurt, they’re not out until they’re out. Swinging wildly, and going for clenches/takedowns at inopportune times can, and sometimes will, lead to you taking some devastating knockouts.
I also think that, in an attempt to be as realistic as possible, the “chin health” of each fighter is a lot higher in the beginning of matches. It seems like no matter how many strikes you land to the head of your opponent, they won’t go down. It gets to the point, sometimes, that one of the fighters is bleeding so badly that the announcers make comments about the doctor stepping in and stopping the fight, but they take every hit as if it’s their first.
Overall, I think this is a fantastic game, especially for fans of Mixed Martial Arts. Even if you’re not, you can still have a lot of fun playing this game (I love FIFA, but I only watch soccer every four years). Although it can irk you, the rewards when you finally pull out the win are well worth it.
I hope you all enjoyed this post, let me know in the comments if you did. Also, feel free to hit one of those share buttons below!