Review: EA Sports UFC 2 (PS4)

ea-sports-ufc-2-review-banner

Title: EA Sports UFC 2
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (20.29 GB)
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Canada
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
EA Sports UFC 2 is also available on Xbox One.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
EA Sports and UFC are back together again for EA Sports UFC 2. Once again they’ve delivered a great fighter that lacks a little something which could bring the UFC franchise to greatness.

The fighting in UFC 2 is fantastic and does a great job capturing the feel and excitement of a mixed martial arts contest. All the different strikes, from the kicks to punches, look and feel like they have power behind them from both the offensive or defensive position.

Punches and kicks are done with the face buttons with each button being assigned to a limb and the shoulder buttons serving as high/low modifiers and blocking. The stand-up game is pretty straightforward and well executed. It is easily the best part of the fighting and it’s very similar to the glory days of EA’s Fight Night franchise.

EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160311031552 EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160311024546

The tricky part with any combat game, be it UFC or WWE, is making the ground game both easy to understand and fun to play. And while I feel this year is the best the ground game has been in any MMA or wrestling game it still has room to improve.

How it works is by moving the left analog stick in specific directions to pull off moves with L2 being used for additional moves or more advanced types. To perform a takedown the player has to hold down L2 and move towards their opponent, using the left stick to decide which takedown to attempt. It is easy to understand and perform which is appreciated.

Once the opponent is on the floor the ground game follows a similar play style with a prompt on the screen showing the possible moves available. Pulling off the move is as simple as moving the left stick and holding it until the move is complete. Defending is simple as well, with moving the left stick in a direction and changing positions until the defender can regain control or find a way to get off the ground.

… highly satisfying and easy to learn …
Now the one aspect of the MMA experience that has always been a major issue is submissions. Each submission hold features different levels before a hold is locked in. To progress through each level the person on the offensive simply has to prevent the defender from moving a bar outside of a four sided grid using the left stick.

This means when the defender pushes too far to one side of a quadrant the person attempting the hold must push in that same direction to stop them. The only issue I had with the submission game was it took too much effort to pull off a submission hold let alone gain a submission victory due to the many levels giving the defender too many opportunities to escape.

Overall the fighting, which is the most important part, is done extremely well. From the strikes to the ground game, I found the gameplay to be highly satisfying and easy to learn. There is something beautiful about the visceral joy from a vicious ground and pound victory that is hard to describe. And even though I was not great at submissions, I found excitement when I was scrambling to pull off a hold or defend from one.

EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160321011936 EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160321012028

Now that the core mechanics are out of the way we can talk about the modes. The first up is the Career mode which begins with your fighter starting out on the Ultimate Fighter and working their way up to the main roster. The career mode does not have a lot of depth to it sadly and felt rather lackluster outside of matches.

I was only given one or two cinematics that were nothing more than a quick montage of fighters looking tough. My time on the Ultimate Fighter broke down to three or four quick matches that were hard to lose and then I was on the main roster where fights begin to matter.

Your UFC career quickly turns into the same old cycle of train, fight, repeat. Occasionally you are greeted with a short video showing off an opponent for a major fight, but that’s all there is in terms of hype or story. It is honestly a little disappointing and underwhelming.

… The career mode lacks flair …
A lot of UFC fighters are beginning to incorporate the wrestling or WWE idea of heel and face personalities (bad guy/good guy) and it’s something I hoped the UFC games would incorporate eventually. If you want to see what I mean go watch some Conor McGregor interviews or any major weigh-in press conferences on YouTube.

The only bit of personality or story your fighter will have comes from throwaway life events that are nothing more than text saying your fighter made a joke or your trainer cannot do something due to an emergency. I wish there was more interactivity or storytelling in the career mode, but instead there is nothing major here.

Matches are set-up by choosing one of three opponents ahead of you in the rankings. Once you choose an opponent your training begins. The training mini games are fine for what they are and only have to be done once before they can be simulated. There are three training sessions per fight and you can focus on the different aspects of MMA: stand-up, clinch, and ground.

EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160312022059 EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160314024403

Each mini game is broken down into three difficulty levels with greater rewards for doing higher difficulties, but slightly more risk of injury. Training is fine and can be skipped which I appreciated, especially over my twenty-five match career. The career mode lacks flair, but it’s supported by the fun gameplay.

The other major mode worth talking about is the Ultimate Team mode. This is the trading card stuff from other EA Sports games. In UFC 2, the Ultimate Team players create five bare bones fighters from any weight class or gender and use trading cards to upgrade and improve them.

Card packs can be earned through fights or picked up via in-game purchases. In my experience I was able to earn in-game currency at a pretty decent clip and never felt like I was forced to use real money for card packs.

… an amazing job capturing the look and feel of a real UFC fight …
After distributing cards to the fighters you can take them online and battle others to win the Ultimate Team Championship. You are limited to your five fighters and it is recommended that you create all five because each fighter will have a health percentage that goes down after a match depending on how it went and it will take some time to regenerate.

You can purchase some packs that contain health boosts or wait for them to recover. With multiple fighters in your stable this does not really become an issue or stink of microtransaction dirtiness.

There are daily challenges to earn more points and all in all the Ultimate Team aspect is addicting and fairly balanced from what I played. I took the mode with the mindset that I was a sponsor or brand and this was my stable of bad ass fighters that I wanted to be the best. Therefore I wanted to earn more card packs and upgrade them as much as I could.

EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160317014022 EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160317014056

Visuals:
UFC 2 does an amazing job capturing the look and feel of a real UFC fight. The visuals are top notch from the character models to their movements in the Octagon. Watching blood splatter from a fighter’s face is both stomach turning and beautiful.

The only time the visuals break is with some occasional model clipping when two fighters decide to hit each other in the same spot at the same time. This is noticeable in the replays and especially in slow motion. The replays tend to show flaws or jenky-ness in the motions of the combatants.

The camera positioning also gets weird in replays, sometimes pointing at the action despite a referee or cage pole being directly in front of it, which would not happen in a real UFC broadcast. Again, in motion and in the moment the game looks spectacular, it’s just when they do replays that the visuals break down a little bit.

… the commentators will not say your created player’s name …
Audio:
Let me start off by saying there is almost no genre that I dislike I can usually find a favorite song or artist in almost any style of music. Now that I have that out of the way I have to say I really disliked the soundtrack for UFC 2.

Like most sports games the soundtrack is filled with a collection of licensed tracks, mostly hip hop, and in the case of this game it’s pretty bad. It all sounds generic and I’d rather just listen to my own music or play a podcast than listen to this soundtrack. The music is a small aspect so I will not spend more time breaking down my utter discontent here.

On a more positive note, the commentary is solid at covering the match. The commentary team makes knockouts and submission wins sound important. The matches are called accurately and sound close enough to the real thing.

The only downside is the commentators will not say your created player’s name even if you pick a pre-made one, they will only say the fighter’s nickname. In the early stages of Career mode you will not be fighting real life fighters and only their nickname will be said as well. It’s an odd choice and only a small issue that I hope gets fixed in the next outing.

EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160311015753 EA SPORTS™ UFC® 2_20160311015737

Online/Multiplayer:
I messed with online in both the quick match and Ultimate Team forms and my experience was a positive one. Matches connected relatively fast as I never waited more than a minute to be matched with a player and the fight usually began shortly after finding an opponent.

The actual matches went over smooth and I only had one player disconnect from a fight. I suspect it was a rage quit as I dominated that individual for two rounds. There is not much to say in terms of connectivity other than it ran fantastic in my time with it.

… the card pack aspect could be problematic in the future …
Conclusion:
As a fighting game, EA Sports UFC 2 nails the stand-up aspect and does a decent job streamlining the ground game to something more playable and sometimes really fun. It is outside of the Octagon that the game feels a little light in the content department.

While I enjoyed my time with it, once my career ended after a couple of hours I know I saw everything I needed to see and, after starting a new career decided I was done. The Ultimate Team has a little more depth than Career, but I fear that the card pack aspect could be problematic in the future as people start using their wallets to level up their team, making for an unbalanced experience.

The Ultimate Team mode is surprisingly well done, but not a reason to throw money down while the Career Mode is lacking the depth to keep anyone coming back for more. The game can get a lot of replayability from online matches if you want a realistic fighting game, but do not expect much more than that.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg
Flag_of_Canada.svg

 

Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook