EA UFC Demo Impressions

Tuesday, EA Sports released the demo for EA Sports UFC. This is the newest entry in the UFC fighting game franchise, and the first from EA after THQ folded. (Which is strange given Dana White’s pointed comments about EA after their initial refusal to pick up a UFC franchise, but money talks right?) With 2 weeks before the game releases on June 17th in North America and June 20th Worldwide, EA gives us a taste of the gameplay to come…and I have to say it’s a bit underwhelming.

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Graphics and presentation wise, the game is beautiful. Character models are extremely detailed, and EA nails the UFC style presentation right down to the tale of the tape. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg are their normally energetic selves during the fight, and overall the sights and sounds are damn near perfect. I have come across multiple instances of fighters wrapping around each other like their bodies are made of rubber though. It’s not game breaking but it’s definitely noticeable.

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Coming from EA Canada, the team that makes the excellent Fight Night series, I expected better from the striking mechanics. Punches and kicks have no weight to them. It feels I’m like punching a mattress and there’s not much feedback to each hit. Takedowns and submissions seem to be the real star here, which obviously makes sense given the sport we’re dealing with. However, it almost seems like you’re forced into going with those primarily just to show off EA’s submission system. I personally preferred what THQ did with submissions, the cat and mouse style mini-game seemed to fit perfectly. Here, EA has replaced it with what I can (regretfully) only describe as “stick-mashing.” Now, given the push/pull nature of submission defense in the UFC, it would seem to make sense; especially given the way its explained in the tutorial. However, the execution of it just doesn’t click for me.

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It’s important to keep in mind that this is EA’s second foray into the MMA world, they previously released EA Sports MMA a few years ago and it took THQ a couple games to get it right themselves. They nailed the mechanics by the time they released UFC Undisputed 3, but the writing was on the wall for the company and the rest of the game was fairly bare bones. I feel confident saying EA will hit its stride next year, but as far as this game goes? It’s looking like a “price drop” game for me.

EA UFC releases on June 17th in North America and June 20th Worldwide for the Xbox One and the PS4.

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