Game of The week

EA SPORTS UFC ★★★★ 16 cert, EA, Xbox One (also PS4)

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES - CIARA O’BRIEN

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.

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