Welcome to the age of beautiful graphics and soulless gameplay, my friends! UFC continues the trend of EA Sports creating games that look stunning, but the actual gameplay isn’t nearly as fun as it looks. UFC is a sport about immediate danger and unpredictable scenarios, but that danger is rarely present. Strikes don’t have any weight behind them, fighters may look different but they don’t fight differently for the most part. The ground game is clunky, as the submissions are reduced to a mini-game. Overall, UFC has frilly wrapping paper, as well as frilly gameplay.
All Style and No Substance
Let’s get this out-of-the-way early: This game has some of the best looking humans in a video game. Every fighter looks distinct and their movements are fluid and lifelike. Every hit is greeted by characters visibly in pain or their body contorting accurately to show the impact. This is UFC’s best quality and arguably one of its only qualities worth mentioning. It is like they blew out their budget making the character designs look impressive, and had little to work with when creating everything else. I’m sure that’s not actually the case but it has to be said; this game has nothing else going for it.
Everything in and outside of the octagon are poorly designed. UFC offers a standard career mode, but unlike previous UFC games, it squanders the feeling of progression. I remember getting hooked on the progression system in UFC 2009 because of its simple “train one attribute at a time system and practice some moves in a sparring match.” This time around, you are thrown into basic tutorials that have been thrown at you before, and are repetitive and boring to play. Another thing that annoyed me about the game is its need to disrupt the already poor presentation with live-action stuff that include real UFC fighters and the president of the UFC, Dana White. The videos themselves seem to want players to see what it is actually like being in the UFC, but fail to do so. During these scenes, you’ll also be greeted with a message that tells you that you’ve entered a blocked scene and therefore your recording has stopped. Meaning, it will stop any momentum you had with Twitch streaming or recording. I guess the want to protect UFC’s reputation by removing the live-action stuff from recordings and Twitch or Youtube, but why have them in the game at all? It doesn’t help the experience or presentation at all and in fact hurts the game even more. In an attempt to replicate the experience of the UFC, it became an advertisement for the sport instead. Also, in-between fights, you’ll be greeted by more live-action videos that show real UFC fighters congratulating you on your win and give you some unnecessary and bland advice. “Don’t get cocky, kid.” That is the basis of almost all of the videos sent to you after matches. And it isn’t just a rare occurrence as it probably should be, it happens after every match and sometimes multiple videos pop up. It would break the flow of recording/streaming, so why in the world would you have so much of the live-action stuff if it interrupts the flow of the game? It slows down the action, interrupts recording and the videos don’t add anything but awkwardness to the experience.
Standing on One Leg
When you actually get into the octagon, you’ll be greeted with more mediocrity. Striking is actually pretty solid, with the shoulder buttons still being modifiers for punches and kicks. It works good in theory, but those punches and kicks don’t have much impact. Sure, a fight can be ended by one punch, but those punches don’t FEEL like they could. Even though the damage on their body looks real, but fighters feel like sponges the way they just soak up blows. Landing a superman punch or a round-house kick clean should at least knock a fighter back or leave them staggered, but it doesn’t. I literally landed ten ax kicks in a row without the other fighter showing any type of distress, even right before falling down. The immediacy of a real UFC fight is not present at all, so when a punch actually knocks someone out, it feels random instead.
How is your Ground Game?
As you may know, any basic UFC fight can go to the ground and become a grappling or close-quarter strike feast. In my experience with this UFC game, going to the ground is the worst possible thing you can do as a gamer. Shifting positions is often clunky and seems a tad random and off-putting. Using the analog stick as the main way to shift positions has always felt weird in UFC games, and this game is no exception to that qualm. But the newest, most unexpected problem with the UFC fighting games lies within the execution of submission moves. Making your opponent tap out during a fighting game has never been superb, as it is a hard thing to incorporate into a video game, but this has to be a new low for submissions in video games. Submitting your opponent lies within a cumbersome and lengthy mini-game that forces players to become locked into a battle of sticks. You can’t try to punch your way out of the situation if you are on defense, like some real fighters do, you must play the stick game. You can’t surprise you opponent with a quick submission attempt, you must play the stick game. I’m not going to describe it in any other way; the stick game is the worst game in this game.
EA Sports has fallen from its previous esteemed legacy. Madden 25, NBA Live 14 and now UFC have all suffered from a muted and dulled gameplay system that has not only effected their respective franchises, but EA and its sports division in general. This UFC game is a far cry from the last generation UFC games, and is a poor simulator with pretty packaging.
Amazing character design but poor presentation
Lacks modes and career mode has no purpose
Striking and blocking is simple and solid but lacks impact
Matches are at their worst when it goes to the ground
Feels like a tech demo, overall
Overall: 4.75 out of 10