EA Sports UFC Demo Impressions

Posted June 4th, 2014 at 12:30 pm


The demo for EA Sports UFC holds a great deal of importance for the new series. The goal with it is to appeal to both the hardcore fight fans and a more casual crowd while also trying to shake off the stigma of the THQ series which lost 70% of its consumer base over the course of three releases. UFC 2009 Undisputed had a demo that was so dynamic and exciting it propelled the launch to heights well beyond what THQ had forecasted. It allowed the game to attract a crowd that wasn’t limited to UFC fans alone. 

With EA Sports UFC it may be the built-for-next-gen visuals that attract the non-MMA fans while the gameplay seems to be tailored more to them as well. Despite that MMA will never be a very accessible video game sport. The controls will always to an extent feel overwhelming and complicated. A good tutorial can help alleviate that but how well the information learned translates to the actual fights based on the tutorial in the demo is in question. One of the most common complaints being seen right now relates to that and the difficulty level. There is so much to retain that inevitably players will find themselves in situations they don’t know how to deal with.

One thing is clear based on the demo and other gameplay videos the company has released – EA Sports UFC is not a true simulation and given that it comes from the people who made Fight Night that shouldn’t be a surprise. The philosophy they employ is to straddle the line between a sim and arcade game. To have the elements of realism but increase the pace and the action.

That is definitely evident in the demo based on how the CPU fights. Even if you want to fight sim, the CPU won’t let you, due to its hyper-aggressiveness. Inevitably the fights just turn into slugfests. The takedowns are difficult to stop and on the ground the two switch who is in dominant position all too frequently.

With the completely unrealistic number of strikes landed (especially considering the accelerated clock) most of them don’t demonstrate the proper and necessary impact. The majority just bounce off like they were nothing. The ironic thing here is the exciting moments people are looking for are lacking because of it. UFC 2009 wasn’t terribly accessible either but one big shot at the right moment could end a fight and those are the moments that stick with someone. Even those who weren’t as good at the game would get the opportunity to experience them. With EA UFC a huge shot landed perfectly might appear to be treated the same as a smiple jab.

The concern that fighters can do just about anything, even things they tend not to do in real life, seems legitimate. The context of the situations don’t play much of a role in that. Special looking moves – that you would rarely see in an actual fight – can essentially be spammed without any discernible penalty. And when the two fighters get into lengthy animations they blend together awkwardly. The knockouts can look even worse. Fights often just end with no reaction rather than pushing the action until the ref would jump in to stop it.

All that being said, the game does have strong fun factor, and the graphics and presentation are fantastic. It’s just a question of whether that is where the value is found in a UFC game or if instead the gameplay and modes matter more. Other notes include the glaring lack of scorecards (only an announcement of unanimous or split decision) and the decision to strip out announcing and commentary from live streams. The former is inexcusable and the latter may be to allow for people to lay their own commentary over the videos.

EA Sports UFC appears to be a fantastic technical display for the new systems but it remains to be seen whether the style of gameplay will resonate with a large segment of consumers.