Archive for the ‘UFC’ Category

EA Sports UFC: Close but no cigar

Posted: July 8, 2014 in UFC

EA Sports UFC has the potential to be a fantastic game. As delivered, I feel like it’s an unfinished one.

There are some massive improvements, but also some real holes that need addressing. While this is a new game for a new generation of gaming system, it will inevitably be compared to the last game. Good or bad, that’s what happens. I played the old games, all of them. So I can’t help but compare what I have now, with what I’ve been used to.

Let me start with the good

The graphics are phenomenal: The player models, whether they are actual roster UFC fighters, or fighters you’ve designed in Create a Fighter mode, the graphics are top notch.

The fighter movement (for what you can do currently, more on that later) is fantastic. The ducking, slipping, parrying and actual punches/kicks etc. are just great.

The atmosphere is perfect: If you choose to let the intros play out, you really get a feel for the event. This is true in the singular shouts of encouragement from your coaches and teammates in the TUF gym, or the roar of thousands of fans at the MGM Grand in Vegas. It’s perfect.

There are no negative stats: This is something that drove me absolutely stir crazy in prior versions of the game. They tried to modify it some in UFC Undisputed 3, but there were still actions you would take that would negatively affect your stats (ie: doing a standup session would lose you submission skills). This is a massive, huge, gigantic deal. I hope I am not understating this. This is an improvement I’ve been asking for every game and now we have it.

The stat advancement is much better than any game prior: By scoring points in your fights and more points for earlier finishes, knockouts, bonuses etc. all of which can be used to add to your fighters skill set or move catalog, it allows you to progress at a more realistic pace. In UFC Undisputed 3, you might have 20 fights under your belt, and be close to title contention, with an overall skill set of about 74. It just didn’t happen realistically. In my prior blog post about UFC Undisputed 3 (Seen HERE) I alluded to the fact that Jon Jones had 7 professional fights outside the UFC, 7 within and he was given a title shot. At that stage his skills were already remarkable. He wasn’t just your average 75 rated fighter.

In that post I also wondered why the UFC hadn’t co-branded with TUF to help accelerate the development. So I was also glad to see that done. It gives fans a more familiar feel than throwing them in at the IFL like prior games.

Submission system:I love this submission system. There is still work to do (read on) but this is a major overhaul and very well done.

The escape system from both the clinch and on the floor: I like that you can initiate disengagement with a simple click of the left thumb stick. It’s clean, simple and needed.

Create a Fighter Mode is fantastic: The level of detail you can add to your player, from body type, skin tone, facial varieties, hair and tats. Just great.

Training mode is user friendly and easy: It walks you through 18 different lessons and lets you retry as many times as you like until you’re comfortable before you move on.

And now the “needs work” stuff

 Lack of game modes:I do not play online. I don’t care for it, never have, never will. So for me, this game essentially gave me 2 modes. Play now, an immediate match, or Career mode. That’s it. That’s not enough. Again, in a game to game comparison, I’d been playing anything from 8 to 16 man tournaments, single weight (which by the way is a great way to get to know the roster. It’s how I went from casual UFC fan to buying 6-8 PPVs a year), create an event, where I could build my dream matches in multiple weights, I could run through a Pride event.

5 build a fighter saves: You give 2 game modes, and then only allow for 5 fighters save blocks. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! It’s certainly a downgrade from the 40 I’d had to play with before.

Aging out the current roster in career mode: I didn’t drop $59.99 to fight for a title against Hector Rojas, or Henry Watkins. I want to fight the guys I know. I don’t mind sprinkling a few computer generate fighters in there, especially on the way up. But when I get to the top, I want to fight Joe Lauzon, Donald Cerrone, Ben Henderson. I don’t want to get 5-10 fights in a 40-45 fight career be fights against names I recognize, with the rest being competitive nobodies.

The physics engine: This should probably go in both the good stuff and needs work stuff sides. My biggest issue with the physics engine is that it seems impact neutral. Players seemingly take no damage from a heavy straight front kick to the face, but can get knocked out with a jab. It’s just not realistic. The other thing that it doesn’t account for is resistive force. Yes, if you kick a dangling leg hard, it will spin out the way it does in EA Sports UFC, but that’s not how it works. In real fights, the opponent is actively defending he is putting force into his defending move. It’s not just holding his arm out there to absorb a punch, or leg to absorb a kick. There is resistance. Sometimes the limb won’t move, sometimes it will. It just seems like there was so much focus on getting the mechanical physics down, that the actual human physics and reactions were overlooked.

The Transition game: Please someone tell me I’m not crazy. Can anyone find me any clip of any MMA fight in the history of MMA fights where a guy was in full guard and with one quick motion completely swept his opponent and ended up on top in full mount? Make the transitions more realistic. Transitions are incremental. Let’s keep them that way.

No fight history: This is something that should have been a no brainer. I can go in and look at stats and see what my “favorite punch/kick/submission” is, but not a list of guys I’ve fought? This is especially important given how many computer generated fighters you will see in the career mode. If I ever lose, I always like to avenge the loss, even if it means fighting down the rankings a bit. I would always choose to fight someone who beat me given the choice of two fighters. Which leads me to…

 The Fight bouts: You don’t get to choose from a couple of fights. In career mode, you are given a fight. That’s it. When you are given it, it shows the other fighters rating, but not their ranking. Not a fan. You also can’t change weight divisions. Take a look at the current UFC roster.

Vitor Belfort is allegedly next in line for a shot at the middleweight title, while he just fought Jones for the light heavyweight title.

Lyoto Machida, a former light heavyweight champion just fought for the middleweight title. The list goes on of current fighters changing weight class. Frankie Edgar, Demetrious Johnson, Chael Sonnen (before his completely voluntary retirement), Daniel Cormier etc..

The Submission System: As mentioned above in the good stuff, I really like the new system…BUT, it needs more balance. I built up my fighter to have 100 on both the ground and submissions. I bought and applied every single submission available. I was supposed to be lethal. I came up against a guy whos ground game was 88 and submission was rated a paltry 57. I could not submit him. I should have crushed him. I should have left him in a limp heap on the mat and walked away. But the system is so tilted toward the strikers, that submissions, while in a potentially fantastic just don’t provide any incentive to develop a good ground game. It’s too hard. And it’s not just because I’m playing at a higher difficulty level. I could not submit Pat Barry with FabricioWerdum. Picture that for a second. The gates should move slower for guys with lower submission ratings fighting higher rated guys. The L flick to tighten should appear longer. This is mixed martial arts, not punch and kick a guy then immediately stand up if taken down arts. There needs to be more focus on all components of the game.

The Rosters:I don’t know that this is necessarily a bad thing, rather than a confusing one. Let me preface this by saying I was born and raised in Ireland and I’m a huge Conor McGregor fan. But how is he, with 2 UFC fights to his name included in the title, while TJ Dillashaw, current UFC champion and 8 fight UFC veteran is not? No Diego Sanchez, Stipe Miocic, Matt Brown or Tyron Woodley? But there was room for former fighter Chuck Liddell? Again, I’m a huge Liddell fan but he should have been a pre-order bonus like Bruce Lee and Royce Gracie, not someone included in the regular roster at the expense of more current, notable fighters.

In Summary:

This is not a bad game. It’s actually quite fun to play. But it’s also far from complete (in my opinion). There are a couple of things that will reduce the replayability of this game. First is the lack of game modes. I used to like to set up an event with some of the main events on upcoming UFC events and play them through, just for the hell of it. Take this week for example (UFC 175), if there was an event mode, I could have had the first 2 fights on the main card, as well as the main event on Sunday’s card.

Wideman v Machida

Rousey v Davis

Edgar v Penn

That is a fun little event, and I could have rounded it out with other fun fights. But I can’t, because it’s not an option.

Second is the way you are paired with computer generated fighters in career mode takes away from the replay factor. I’ve discussed this above so I won’t rehash it.

Look, I know EA is a new developer and wanted to put its own stamp on the game. I didn’t want UFC Undisputed 4. However, that does not mean that there were not some excellent pointers to be gleaned from the original game. It’s a good start, but I feel a little short changed. Let’s hope the next iteration delivers on the potential.

I wanted this game back in February. However I would have waited another 6 months to get a more complete product

Overall Rating: 5/10

The above review is purely my opinion and should not be taken as anything other than that. And I’ll probably add more as I play more.

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This post is probably going to be a bit all over the place. I had intended to do a part 2 to my UFC Undisputed 3 review. Instead I’m just going to offer some thoughts on the career mode, and where I think the next UFC game should consider improving.

Negative Stats
We read in the previews to this game that the stat deterioration would no longer be a part of the game. That is true, to an extent. If you don’t train in a certain discipline, you won’t lose stats like you did with UFC 2010.
However, as you try to build your fighter in the career mode, it becomes extremely frustrating to see you lose a couple of stat points on the striking game because you focus on takedowns or submissions in the 2 actions you get prior to a fight.
I would say to the game makers this… Do you think that Junior Dos Santos simply forgets to prepare on the ground in the course of one of his training camps? Of course not. So why should I lose ground grappling ability if I try to build some striking skills? Any decent fighter will focus on all aspects of the game, so you shouldn’t penalize the players of the game because they only get to choose 2 actions per fight. You should be able to add to stats without others losing value. Which brings me to point #2…

Ability accumulation (or lack thereof)
Realistically when playing UFC Undisputed 3 it takes a lot of fights (talking 20-25) to be able to compete with the top fighters in the division in the harder modes. This becomes particularly frustrating when every time you add to your submission game, you lose from your striking game, and vice versa. Let’s take a look at some of the current top fighters in the game

HW: Junior Dos Santos: Seven pro fights before joining the UFC, and his seventh UFC fight was a #1 contender fight. 14 fights and he was ready for the title. With UFC Undisputed, 14 fights and you are probably a 70 striker or ground fighter, about 68 overall. Not nearly contention status.

LHW: Jon Jones: Almost an identical timeline to Dos Santos. Seven fights in other organizations, 7 in the UFC and a title shot

MW: Anderson Silva: Silva was different because he was an established fighter prior to coming to the UFC, but was given a title shot after just 1 fight.

And so on and so forth. What I would suggest here would actually be a pretty cool way to co-brand UFC products. Go through the normal initial fights (three or four) in the WFA. At that stage, there should be an advanced development trigger. This could be in the form of “The Ultimate Fighter”. Now your character is on the reality show.
This doesn’t change the approach to the game, with the exception that your fights are now TUF fights. This would allow for accelerated stat accumulation, so in the next 3-4 fights as a TUF contestant, you could bring your fighter from say 62-64 right up to around 80 overall. It gets another UFC brand into the game, and allows players to develop faster, thus making the jump to the UFC more enjoyable for all.

Fight aesthetics
I’ve played the EA MMA Fight game and perhaps because I was so familiar with the Undisputed 09/10/3 control system, I didn’t enjoy it. Now that EA is making the game, I hope they have the good sense to keep the control system that fans of the franchise have spent years honing their game on. I don’t want to go back and have to re-learn a new control system. I want the next UFC game to be a continuation of the prior incarnations (something I think has been done successfully thus far)

Fighter Roster
This is more than likely a pipedream for me, but I would love roster updates from UFC Undisputed. I also play the NHL series, and they do frequent roster updates. I would love to be able to download new fighters as they come to prominence in the octagon.
I would also love the chance to have ready made downloadable events. For example, I made a custom event for UFC 146, using as many players on the roster that I could. It would be nice if there was a way to just download upcoming events to our systems (just because a lot of us gamers are that lazy)

Anyway, those are my meandering thoughts on the UFC Undisuputed franchise, particularly the career mode, and some wishlist things.

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