During your average UFC event, viewers will get a mix of both great and boring fights. The commentary from Rogan and Goldberg will be hit or miss, Arianny and Brittney will periodically remind you what round it is and between bursts of action, there will be lots of filler.
While EA Sports UFC 2 suffers from many of the same problems, it also features some of that great action and is a visually stunning game. The question is, when the scorecards are tallied at the end, does EA Canada's second crack at the MMA video game genre hold up?
Tale of the tape
Beginning with offline, the major player is the Career Mode. Gamers familiar with the original EA Sports UFC will recognize it, but this mode underwent changes, primarily in the training aspect. Unfortunately most of those changes miss the mark. For example, a lot of the training exercises are just quick time events, and don't help you get better at the actual fighting. You're so worried about reaching a certain score that you don't get to slow down and learn the mechanics of the game. Some of it is OK, like learning how the submissions work, which is fairly similar to how it worked previously. Other training scenarios, like speed drills, are just silly.
You'll have to deal with this training as well as your career management between every UFC fight. The training gets old rather quickly, but adding moves to your created fighter and stacking them up with boosts is quite fun. The rollercoaster will continue when you start seeing random events pop up, often having a negative effect on your career, while completely beyond your control. In one case, we were forced to miss our training session because we were waiting for the cable company. As if training wasn't frustrating enough, we lost out on valuable attribute points waiting for a fictitious cable person.
When you finally start making your way to the Octagon, that's when things take a turn for the better. You get to choose your own walkout music (McGregor fans should note that Sinéad O'Connor's rendition of Foggy Dew is not present) and there are quite a few options. You even get to choose your fighter's pre and post-post fight behaviour, and we went with Joanna Jędrzejczyk's cage jumping antics. From there, Bruce Buffer will introduce you, Arianny or Brittney will let you know it's Round 1 and one of a handful of popular officials will start the action.
It takes some getting used to, but the fighting is quite good. Punch and kick spammers will be put in their place by skilled opponents, AI or online, and patient players who learn the move sets will be rewarded for their time and dedication. As mentioned, the submission game is largely the same, but it's complimented by the grappling mechanics, which are much improved over EA Sports UFC. This time out, players get an easy-to-master mini game, while blocking transitions remain basically the same. Put it all together into a solid fight plan and you'll submit and knock out opponents in no time.
While Career Mode is the bread and butter offline, there are also Skill Challenges, which are similar to training, and Custom Events, which feel like a throw-in with little value. You make your dream UFC card, then play through it, gaining nothing in the process. You could just use the Fight Now option and end up in the same place. There's also Knockout Mode, featuring very quick slugfests, each ending with a brutal KO. It's cool, but the novelty will wear off rather quickly.
Online comes with quite a few modes as well, including Quick Fight, an unranked player-versus-player. There's also Rivalries, allowing you to play friends. Ranked Championships let you use real roster fighters to battle other players for belts and division promotions. Finally, there's Ultimate Team.
Ultimate Team seems to be the main focus for EA Canada when it comes to the online aspect of EA Sports UFC 2, and thus it is filled with opportunities for players to spend additional cash on the game, although you don't have to. It doesn't stink of pay to win, but there's a hint of pay-to-make-life easier.
Whether you drop cash on it or not, the concept is that you open packs that contain moves and boosts, applying them to created fighters to make them better. You then take those fighters and scrap against other players (you can fight the AI, too), again trying to work your team up through the ranks. Just like Ranked Championships, there are belts to be won and divisions to be prompted to. Ultimate Team could use some work. We were more than happy to stay in the Fight Now mode, quickly matching against other casual players for a no fuss online battle.
Other than the fact real players are generally more skilled than AI, the online fighting mechanics are the same as the offline. Online, however, does seem to suffer from quite a few connection hiccups. This resulted in our fights restarting several times, which is frustrating. You also get many players who choose the best fighter in the division. Getting kicked from 15 feet away by Jon Jones every match can get old in a hurry, although that's a comment about the player base, not the game itself. On a positive note, there are loads more fighters to choose from, so EA Canada definitely got that right.
Overall, EA Sports UFC 2 is a good game. The fighting, as it should be, is the best part. If you can overlook a few pointless game modes and some frustrating mechanics in the career mode, you'll enjoy your time with it. How much time will depend on your love of Career Mode and if you enjoy any of the online action.
- New grappling mechanics are fantastic
- Submission mechanics are still top notch
- Visually, the game is stunning at all times
- Random career mode events are frustrating
- Some training scenarios are unhelpful and silly
- Online connection issues could be an issue