While EA SPORTS UFC has a lot of appealing features to it, it’s clear after a few weeks of play time that it is far from a perfect game. The title took some lumps critically, including a lukewarm response from us in our official review. While I feel like a lot of what Marc wrote in our review was justified, I did enjoy my time with the game, and do feel like it’s a solid foundation to build upon in the future.
While a foundation is ok to start with, it is evident that a lot of work needs to be done for the series to be looked upon with the greats in the sports genre. I decided to give my take on what I think needs to improve in EA SPORTS UFC, either in a sequel, or a downloadable patch. While we don’t know how detailed EA SPORTS plans to make their patches for the title, it would be nice to see some of these additions early on as some of the omissions are pretty game-breaking to some of us hardcore fans.
Before I get into the list, I think the most important thing to point out is that the series needs to set itself on a clear path and decide who they’re trying to sell this title to. I believe one of the most apparent issues with the first release is that they tried to toe that line between “sim” and “casual” and it hurt the overall feel of the game. While we had some very important MMA basics missing from the game, we were given kicks and punches off of the cage, and while flashy, it still hurt to see this stuff and not some of the other features I’ll mention below.
1. Running Button/Sprint
Number one on the list for me, has to be the addition of a sprint or running button. This omission seems almost silly to me after spending numerous hours with the game. On too many occasions you’ll daze an opponent with a great combination sending him stumbling towards the back of the cage. While this part looks great, what hurts my immersion is seeing my fighter lollygag towards his dazed opponent like there is no sense of urgency at hand. Anyone who has stepped foot in a cage will know that the first matter at hand when you have an opponent “on the ropes” is to attack, attack, attack. Not having the proper mechanic in the game to do so really hurts my enjoyment with the game inside the cage. There are also times when you’ll see an opponent hit the mat, but not have the ability to get to him quick enough to finish him, and he seems to recover based on your tardiness.
The lack of a run/sprint button also hurts the transitions between some moves. Not having it makes the momentum on power takedowns look forced, and it also hurts moves like the running/flying knee. In the game, these moves come from stationary positions, and having this mechanic would help open up the action a bit and make it feel and look more organic.
2. Strike Cancel Button
If you would have asked me before UFC Undisputed 3 if this was a big feature, my answer would have been no, but after that title came out, I feel naked not having it in EA SPORTS UFC. Having the strike cancel option added an element of strategy to UFC Undisputed and helped you to mix up combos on your opponent and fake out his blocks. While not always effective, the added touch really helped to bring authenticity to THQ’s striking in its last offering and missing it here is something I notice almost every single time I sit down with the title.
3. Authentic Gameplay Additions
While EA SPORTS UFC did a great job of capturing authenticity with its fighters and presentation, I feel like there are so many details, even some pretty huge omissions, missing from its gameplay. What happens inside the cage, while impressive at times, is missing too many of the core MMA fundamentals that make the sport so exciting. Some of these NEED to find their way into the title as soon as possible:
- Catching Leg Kicks – One of the strongest parry opportunities a defender can have in a cage is to catch an opponent kicking and strike him while off balance, either with a takedown, trip or punch. This is a glaring omission, and again, having it in a previous THQ title and not having it here is really noticeable and I catch myself constantly trying to catch a leg kick. This could also help solve the mid-section leg spams that are happening right now. Truth is, there is no appropriate way to block this type of kick without being able to catch your opponent.
- Standing Submissions – For any MMA expert, this is almost the very first thing they’ll notice. I’m actually a big fan of the submission system in EA SPORTS UFC, but the lack of ability with the feature is head scratching after only a short time with the title. In so many circumstances, I find myself trying to put on submissions in areas when I know I should be able to, then come to find out that I’m at a disadvantage. No flying arm-bars is a huge one, no standing guillotine like Jon Jones so famously choked Lyoto Machida with against the cage, and no way to take your opponent’s back while standing. Even in circumstances where I’m on the ground and the other fighter is standing, I should have the ability to attempt an arm-bar if he attacks me with his fists. Surprise submissions are a huge part of the sport and are evidently missing from the EA SPORTS UFC experience.
- More Takedown Variety – There seems to be a lack of takedown animations in the game and power takedowns are no exception. I very rarely see a suplex in the UFC, but I see them at least 2-3 times in every EA SPORTS UFC match. I also feel like there needs to be more variety in what types of takedowns you can do and what fighters can pull them off.
- Powerbombs/Ground Escape Opportunities – Another area in EA SPORTS UFC that needs to be addressed is what’s available to your fighter when you’re either on the ground and an opponent is on top of you, or vice versa. For one, if you’re trying to stand and an opponent is preventing it from happening, you should, with some fighters, be able to slam them to the mat or powerbomb them – something Rampage Jackson was notorious for in his prime. You should also have more options on the ground other than a quick escape, including “flash” reversals and the ability to use the cage to get back to your feet – again, something real fighters use all of the time.
4. Existing Fighter Templates for Career Mode
I’ve seen this complaint a lot early on, and while it doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the game personally, there is no denying its popularity. Simply said, users want the ability to go through a career mode with their favorite fighters even if they have to start from the beginning of their career. Since video games should be about giving people options to live out their fantasies, I’d love to see EA SPORTS UFC add in the ability to choose a current UFC fighter and use them to go through the career with. While it may be weird to see an Anthony Pettis go through The Ultimate Fighter, if people want to do it, why impede them? Give us current fighter templates!
5. In-Game Instant Replay
In a game so beautiful to look at, why do we not have the ability to pause the action and watch our combos and knockouts in slow motion as we please? Every sports game has an instant replay so why doesn’t EA SPORTS UFC? There isn’t much to say on this topic other than it needs to be there if you’re going to make a game look so damn good. You’re hurting yourselves from some great media promotion on social networks!