ea sports ufc 3
A so-so mix of martial arts
EA Sports UFC 3 is an exercise in improvement of one of mixed martial arts’ most important elements: Striking. Some of the punches and kicks in this game are wince-inducing; enough to make you jump from your seat in excitement as your opponent crumples to the ground after a welltimed overhand punch or roundhouse kick. In a stand-up fight, UFC 3 often verges on genuine excellence and, were this a kickboxing or boxing game, we could probably leave it there.
EA Sports UFC 3 is not a kickboxing or boxing game—it is a mixed martial arts game, and MMA includes another very important aspect: The ground game. Grappling. Grabbing on to your opponent and trying to reposition them and yourself until you can beat them down or choke them out. In an on-the-ground fight, UFC
3 often verges on genuine poorness and, as it’s an MMA game, we can’t leave it there.
The main issue with takedowns is that it’s the old system from the previous UFC game, and it shows. It’s clunky and slow, with transitions— while simple on paper—difficult to pull off or defend against. This is backed up by a submissions system that is quite genuinely awful. In it, the defending player has to push the right stick in different directions to fill a segment of a circle without the aggressor stopping them (or, in the case of facing the AI, you
just tap out). It is unbalanced, zero fun, and ruins a huge aspect of MMA, as most players beyond the superpowered ones will want to avoid submissions entirely.
As well as the terrible ground game, UFC 3 maintains issues it has had in the series for a while, like how the AI’s stamina quite obviously doesn’t drain at the same rate as the player’s, meaning they’re fresh as a daisy after four rounds while you can’t throw a single kick without tiring yourself. There’s also the return of omniscient opponents when difficulty is ramped up anywhere beyond normal, ruining any of the fun/challenge aspect in single-player mode. Similarly, the jump between easy and normal is laughably huge, with easy opponents literally standing still while you batter them senseless.
The improved localized damage system has its pluses and minuses— you can target body parts in a more sensible fashion than before, and if you work a single leg over throughout the match you’re going to have a good time. But it comes with an opponent’s strange ability to take huge blows to the head, repeatedly, and if they’re not immediately
pounced on they will always recover to near-full health very quickly. It’s… weird. Getting punched in the head isn’t something you just shake off in a matter of seconds, and a spinning backheel flush on the chin doesn’t lead to you standing up again literally a second after you hit the mat.
There’s no denying there’s plenty to enjoy, albeit temporarily, about UFC
3— it looks absolutely spectacular, with fighters modelled in the kind of detail that brings plenty of doubletakes from onlookers. Career mode is also a fair bit of fun, with your journey from the bingo hall $100 fights to UFC superstardom the kind of fighters’ journey that always tells a good story. Admittedly most of the mode is played out on menus and just involves pressing a button and filling in the gaps with your imagination, but there’s enough about it to keep your interest for a while. At least until the difficulty curve decides it really always wanted to be a wall and stops you from winning for a while.
And, of course, there’s the aforementioned striking, which is… well, striking in how great it is. Switch to the awfully named Stand And Bang mode and have a slugfest between two great fist-and-kick throwers and you end up with a spectacle of a thing, full of careful tactics, a wide variety of moves and the sort of wild Hail Mary swings that either make you a chin-smashing hero or a crumpled mess in a pool of your own fluids. It’s serious fun, brilliantly rendered, and backed up by some of the finest fighting game physics we’ve seen. So it’s such a shame this is only 50 per cent of the overall MMA experience.
UFC 3 isn’t worth the money if you’re an owner of either of the last two games, unless you’re absolutely dedicated to the striking game and want to see something done a lot better than it was previously. Everywhere else we see iterative changes, or features left to wilt on the vine, and it’s just not worth the investment of money or time. Those without a UFC title in their library? Well, wait for the inevitable price drop in a month or two, and you’ll have yourself a decent game for the price. And those who abhor violence? Well… we’ve no idea why you’re actually reading this. Hmm.
“Not worth the money if you’re an owner of either of the last two games”
far left Fighters are superbly modeled and a bit scary. Left There are times when UFC 3 hits the nail on the head, usually when you’re hitting someone in the head.
Right UFC 3’ s submission system is downright bad. Switch to simple mode (tap A to escape/win) if you want a less frustrating experience.