Career and Ultimate modes need to step up their game
A refined game compared to its predecessor, UFC 2, EA Sports’ latest in the franchise, delivers a fighting simulator, with a focus on improved technique and strike combinations, while making it easy enough for new comers to jump right in.
Right off the bat, UFC 2 offers new game modes and amazing looking fighters (male and female). You can choose to play as UFC favourites such as Ronda Rousey and Conor Mcgregor, or iconic fighters such as Bruce Lee and young Mike Tyson, or create your very own fighter.
On screen commands guide you through the controls and moves which allows newcomers to quickly pick up the game and execute uppercuts, roundhouse kicks and submission moves with relative ease. This feature can be disabled if you want a challenge.
The guide doesn’t necessarily make the game too easy as poorly timed strikes depleted your stamina more usual. On the other hand landing well-timed hits allows you to string combinations together as your stamina depletes at a much slower rate. The new game mode ‘Knockout’ takes advantage of this feature best. In this new mode there is no grappling and your opponent can be knocked out in 8 quick strikes. Dodge and parry strikes before going on a rampage.
UFC2 places a bigger emphasis on better technique, which is good but comes at a cost. On occasions where I was able to land a heavy hit such as a head kick, flying knee or a strong hook, I can’t send my opponent to the ground. In a real fight, the fighter would likely get floored once they receive such a hit. However, the game focuses on delivering high damage to a specific part to your opponents body.
Instead, you focus on depleting your opponent’s stamina before going on the offensive, which can make for boring gameplay. The ground game is even less interesting, you spend more time looking out for on screen prompts rather than the arm bar you’re trying to execute and getting a submission is damn near impossible!
Career mode has seen little improvement. There’s no story, interviews, weigh-ins or any other feature to capture the spectacle of what it means to be as a fighter in UFC. Trash talking to opponents, staring them down and engaging with the press is part and parcel of a real fighters life. They don’t call McGregor the bad boy for nothing, just watch his interviews. Sadly we can’t do any of that in game.
However, you do get to train your fighter to boost his/her stats. Your stats get a boost based on the difficulty and how well you perform in training. For example, an A grade for a training segment, gives your stats a bigger boost but training too hard can result in injures to your fighter. Overall career mode feels more like a stats boosting simulation.
In the new Ultimate team you manage 5 fighters. Just like the other versions of EA Sports Ultimate Team, we get to buy packs, However, unlike the FIFA franchise where you use packs to get new players like Messi or Ronaldo, in UFC packs only unlocks different strikes, techniques and attribute cards for your fighters. I wish that they included getting real UFC fighters at different stages of their career or other iconic UFC fighters who have since retired.
A word of caution, if you’re still new to the game, stay away from the surprisingly well done Multiplayer modes. The people who do play those modes are stupidly good and they would likely wreck you in seconds. Get good at the game before going online.
UFC 2 improves on quite a few aspects, with a great number of techniques, but still needs to work hard in order compete with the other big boys, especially in career mode. If all you’re looking for are the fights, the UFC 2 is great. It’s a fantastic in-ring experience that needs more work on the out-of-ring features.