Unintentional Frustrating Consequences

EA finally gets their hands on the UFC franchise. Will they make their rivals submit?
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: June 29, 2014
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Were that the only thing that proved to be an annoyance those windows there would be little to complain about. Alas, for the uninitiated the game itself quickly becomes overwhelming. You wonít find an easy mode here but you might wish for one if this is your first trip to the circus. Remember that litany of tutorials we went through at the beginning? Good luck recalling all that when you are getting slapped around by some sweaty ox. Itís not that the controls are necessarily complicated, itís more that there is such a variety and so many moves are situational that it takes a long, long, long time for someone who doesnít understand the flow of a typical fight to not only remember what works when, but how to pull off those simple moves. There is no easy mode that lets you get through a match or two by mashing buttons. No, youíll need to know how and when to counter, when itís safe to strike, when you can shift the momentum in ground combat and which way you need to rotate what sticks to get that guy turning your face into hamburger off of you. There isnít a lot of time to fumble with the controls and while I donít claim to be a fighting game master this isnít my first rodeo either, and yet I was still struggling in every match and the times I broke through for a victory felt as much like luck as anything.

Unfortunately that was pretty much my experience the entire time playing. Even after a dozen or more hours and scores of fights I still never felt totally comfortable with the controls, and I still felt like I never fully realized what the flow of a match should be like. I am positive that longtime UFC fans (and maybe fans of EAís earlier non-UFC MMA games) would have a much easier go of it, but no matter what I did I never really felt in control. Consider that a warning if you are just a casual player/fan. You may want to wait another year or two before making the plunge. Right now this game feels dedicated to the fans, not something interested in creating new fans.

Regardless of whether or not UFC is ďforĒ you, youíll definitely have to admire how it looks. This is a next-gen game through and through and it shows with every bead of sweat flying off your face as your cheek sags in under the weight of your opponentís fist. OUCH! You will be hard-pressed to spot the differences from the entrance videos and the game itself, and itís safe to say this is easily the best looking fighting game of any type available on a console. It really makes you wonder what things will look like in a couple of years when the EA Canada team has had more time to really harness the power of the system for their engine.

Itís hard not to feel a little let down when all is said and done with this yearís UFC game. Itís fair to say expectations were rather low because we know what to expect from new sports franchises, but it does feel a little empty that EA couldnít muster ANY of the extra modes that litter their more mature franchises. I found it a little shocking that they didnít even find a way to shoehorn in some version of Ultimate Team to open up the coffers to microtransactions (ok, shocking but not really upsetting) or even some form of minigame that could serve as additional training. As it stands, if you find yourself unable to handle the competition all you can really do is go back to the tutorial for another run-through. Even the customization options are lacking this year. Still, this is a solid foundation and time has taught us that EA will add in the other stuff eventually. We just hope they can make the game more accessible.

If youíre a big UFC/MMA fan and have experience with other MMA games youíll probably find a lot to like in this package. The career mode and exhibition mode might not offer a lot of variety, but most likely you just want to take Jon ďBonesĒ Jones and put him through his paces against all comers and that is one thing this game handles with aplomb. No, itís not for the faint of heart and novices are more likely to smash the controller than smash faces, but this IS a game that delivers to the core audience. No frills doesnít mean no fun.
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The Verdict

EA Canada's UFC follows in the footsteps of previous new EA franchises. That means a solid foundation lacking in bells and whistles. This is a game that isn't friendly to new blood, but dedicated fans will find a solid fighting game here.


UFC is a showpiece for the PS4. This is one of the first games built from the ground up for this generation and you'll find fidelity you won't see elsewhere. The fighter models are stunning.


The ring announcer is decent and seems to keep up with the fight but there could stand to be more variety in the commentary. The music is what you've come to expect from EA, lots of testosterone-fueled tunes to get your punch on with.


It's a little hard to rate the controls. As a relative novice the controls felt overwhelming at times and I never felt like I wasn't fumbling. There is a lot of control to be had if you can learn to master it though.


While there isn't a whole lot of variety and you are pretty much just stuck with an endless stream of one-on-one fights, if you can get a grip on the controls those fights will feel fierce. New players will almost surely feel lost though.