Game of The week
EA SPORTS UFC ★★★★ 16 cert, EA, Xbox One (also PS4)
Know your armbars from your grape vines? Your triangle chokes from your neck cranks? Welcome to UFC.
EA Sports UFC wants to be the most realistic yet, and to a certain extent it pulls that off. You can almost smell the sweat in the room. Graphicswise, it doesn’t pull its punches. Fighters have been replicated in detail, from their tattoos to their hairstyles. As you fight, you pick up damage that is manifested on your face and body as you battle your opponent.
A tutorial takes you through the basic moves, but the learning curve is steep – this is a game that requires an investment of time and effort to get into the swing of things; button mashing won’t do you any favours, and without mastering the subtleties of grappling and submissions, your time in the octagon will be short-lived.
The tutorial gets your feet wet, but it will still take a bit of time before you can replicate those moves under pressure, and without a lot of prompting by the game. You’re always learning something new, even when you’ve moved on from the basics and into the octagon. Still, there’s satisfaction in putting your opponent into a submission hold, or escaping a clinch before dealing that knock-out blow to the head.
There is an impressive roster of fighters, from Junior Dos Santos to Ronda Rousey. Extra fighters, such as Bruce Lee, can be downloaded for a small fee. (Lee, incidentally, is also offered as a reward for completing the game on the hardest difficulty setting).
Still, there is something missing. Perhaps it’s because that, while a lot of attention has gone into rendering the character models, there isn’t the same sense of impending doom when you see one of your favourite fighters launch into a signature move. A bit of good timing – and more often than not, luck – can see you escape from an submission that you know would never happen in a real UFC fight. Coming to the game as a new player, though, it’s probably a good strategy.
Although it ultimately loses something along the way, EA Sports UFC bodes well for the future of the sport on the nextgen platforms.