If the visuals of EA Sports UFC
are spectacular flurry punches, then the gameplay is the low blow kick in the crotch that ends the match by disqualification. I need to make the disclaimer that I do not follow the MMA or Ultimate Fighting Championship, nor do I go out of my way to see any bouts, but I have been engaged enough in the sport to know that it is not just a boxing matchÖ something that the gameplay sincerely overlooks. Donít get me wrong, you can
perform takedowns, ground and pound, and submission moves. In practice, however, the ONLY way (it seems) to win matches is to stand and throw down kickboxing style.
UFC misses the chance to truly be the #1 Contender in fighting games and appeal to those who like 1-on-1 combat, but not necessarily follow the UFC. Unfortunately, ONLY fans of the UFC will likely find this game appealing in any way. The control scheme is convoluted and sluggish regardless of whether the fighters are standing or locked on the ground, but when it comes to clinches and the maneuvering on the mat, the game falls flat on its face. This is the only TKO that UFC performs, and it did it to itself.
UFC contains relatively few modes of play. Youíll be able to just dive into a Quick Match, play through Tutorials and Challenges, you can jump into Career Mode, or of course, play online with your friends or via random matchups in Championships, Rivalries, and eventually, Tournaments. Due to the problems with playing against the A.I., your best course of action for the most enjoyment is probably to play online. Unfortunately, sluggish play and the incomparable inability to even block at times can drive a playerís frustration level through the roof.
Playing online is a quick way to realize that players gravitate toward tall fighters like Jon Jones whose long reach and kick make it much harder to defend and get in close. The only defense is to get great at timing blocks and parries or to take them to the mat, but that is generally more of a tip to avoid a KO rather than to actually use it on the offensive. It is fortunate that once unlocked or purchased, Bruce Leeís lightning-quick speed can be enjoyed either offline or online. His roundhouse kicks and many other forms of punishment look great and are enjoyable to perform, not to mention that his stamina seems to last longer than other fighters. Playing as The Dragon or the other unlockable, Royce Gracie, is a nice oasis in the game, but the title is not without problems. Tack on the fact that you could literally be beating the life out of someone only to be knocked out by a quick 1-2 combo is pretty ridiculous at best. Inevitably, matches end up being slug fests anyway, so all tactics really go out the windowÖ but this was all realized after going through the following growing pains.
After going through some tutorials and thinking I may have a feel for the game, I jumped into Career Mode since that is the heart of the game. Career Mode starts your created fighter in the Ultimate Fighter tournament after a few quick lessons (which are nothing more than "Challenges" from the Main Menu). I canít tell you how many times I had to play rematches (you canít move on with a loss at the beginning) because it was impossible to beat the computer A.I. when trying to be authentic and use all of your possible gameplay options. After reaching the point of giving up on the game, I was forced to read a few blurbs online to try and get a bit of help and direction. One talked about only using stand-up techniques of fighting (kickboxing), and that ended up being true for me as well. Not once, to this date, have I ever won by decision against computer A.I. despite ending matches with the thought of victory some of those times. The only possible way to walk away victorious was to literally be the last man (or woman) standing after a Knock Out or Technical Knock Out. The solutionÖ pick a body part (like the head) and then pound, pound, and pound some more. Take a breather to recover some stamina, and then deliver blows and repeat. You will either KO or TKO your opponent and move on. So much for the excitement of using the ridiculous amount of fighting techniques that (on paper) make the game look appealing.