EA Sports UFC - Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4
Thanks to a carefully considered control system, the Fight Night series brought nuance and verve to combat that many regarded as too limited to make for a truly enthralling game.
With the square swapped for an octagon, the label has now decided to follow in the footsteps of THQ by acquiring the licence for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the global mixed martial arts phenomenon. With legs - not to mention elbows, knees and grapples - now in play, there was great anticipation as to how EA might adapt and improve upon the Fight Night formula.
The two series, it turns out, are unlikely bedfellows. Whereas the boxing sim employed the analog thumbsticks to mete out a flurry of punches, allowing for a fast, fluid experience, EA Sports UFC relies on more traditional combinations of button presses, thumbstick flicks and pushes of the triggers and shoulder buttons.
The upshot is a title that is not easy to pick up and play. It is complex to the point of being obtuse at times, but if you are patient, persevere and realise that button mashing is no match for an almost scholarly approach to its myriad control options, it will in time reward you with a deep and fulfilling fighter.
For an EA Sports title, the spectrum of game modes is a little lacking in depth and variety - another gripe is the fact you can’t choose and save your own replays - but the truth is that the meat of UFC lies in the training drills, which greet players at the start of the game and season the duration of the gruelling career mode, where you master how to mix up parrys, jabs and nipping kicks with a few high-impact manoeuvres. Master those and you will find a game that keeps on giving.
TIPS AND TRICKS
1) The smorgasbord of moves in UFC take time to learn and it is worth revisiting the gym time and again to get to grips with a few big power offensive combos.
2) Reaction is just as important as reaction - the beat approach is often to try and anticipate the offensive manoeuvres of your AI opponent and then counter them rather than trying to stay on the front foot all the time.
3) Don’t focus on punching - this isn’t Fight Night, remember, and the chances are the skills you learn on the mat will decide a battle in your favour.