For years mixed martial arts has toiled away in the underground of the sports world. It was rarely featured on ESPN (it still is), most fans were criticized for liking such a violent sport, and at one-point in time it was almost outlawed across the country for being to close to “human cock-fighting”. Oh my, times have changed. The UFC recently was sold for $4 billion, the UFC has a very lucrative television deal with FOX, where the UFC has its own weekly show, but most importantly it has a gaming franchise with one the most prestigious sports gaming companies in the world, EA. Yes, the same EA that creates the Madden and FIFA franchise. EA UFC was the most complete mixed martial arts game ever when it was released and let’s talk about why that was.
First and foremost, the gameplay of EA UFC was the selling point of the game. With the largest collection of punch, kick, takedown, and submission techniques available, players had a lot of variation in their move pool. EA UFC also boasted the largest fighter roster of any mixed martial arts game prior to it. Players could use the flashy striking of Anthony Pettis, the more methodical balanced attack of Georges St. Pierre, or the conservative ground based attack of Demian Maia. How to play was really left in the hands of the player. The controls were also fairly simple so you were not stuck trying to figure out which buttons did what moves. Pretty much anyone could pick up the game and play without too much of an issue. While some more advanced techniques required more skill to pull off, with practice they become almost second nature. This made it easy to sink numerous hours into the game trying to unleash kicks off the cage and trap opponents in gogoplatas because beating someone by just an ordinary left hook is beginner stuff.
While the gameplay was overall very smooth, there were some downsides. One of the biggest downsides was how limited the grappling system was. When using renowned grappling masters like Demian Maia, Gunnar Nelson, or Jacare Souza one might expect to have a large advantage on the ground. This was not the case as getting submissions was based off a mini-game using the analog sticks and not on how talented the fighters were. This was also true when advancing position on the ground as well. Your ground attributes played less into how fast you could pass guard than how powerful of a striker the fighter was.
Another downside was that the you could not really chain together punches and takedowns smoothly. When fighting master technicians in the octagon having a good gameplan is essential to winning. If you cannot execute that gameplan because you cannot smoothly move between positions, it hurts your chances to winning. It took too much time to transition from striking to the clinch to a takedown and then get back up. While these are not major issues, they did hurt the game because important parts of a balanced attack were deemed unimportant so players could have more fun knocking each other out.
There were not a lot of game modes in the game but that did not stop the fun. Play now was a mode that allowed players to create their own match-ups to fight. It was a very basic mode but it allowed for all types fights with fighters moving from one weight class to another. There was also a training mode that allowed for players to hone their skills without having to fight live opponents. This was a great way to start since the game had slight learning curve where if you got caught in a bad spot you were probably going to sleep.
The most in-depth mode for EA UFC however was the career mode. This allowed players to create a fighter and have them play out their career in the UFC, all the way from the Ultimate Fighter to the UFC Hall of Fame. Players would start out fighting on the Ultimate Fighter television show and then would have to win to make it to the UFC. After the Ultimate Fighter, players would have to fight their way up the division rankings to earn a title shot. In between fights players would have a training camp where they could earn attribute increases that would help them in later fights. Players could also add new moves to their arsenal in between fights to help add more unpredictability to their fights.
Even though EA UFC had a few issues, they did not stop the game from doing its purpose of giving fans the most comprehensive mixed martial arts game. Players could always have a great experience playing the game and that is what makes it so memorable. The only question left is “Do you wanna be a fighter?”