ea sports ufc 3

A so-so mix of mar­tial arts

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - Ian Drans­field

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.

Leg it

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.

Smash hits

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.

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