In a few weeks, Electronic Arts will release its first foray into the MMA phenomenon–the Ultimate Fighting Championship. After trying and failing to exploit the industry without the UFC, with EA Sports MMA, the UFC and EA finally put aside their past differences to collaborate on a brand new MMA gaming experience. This will be the first UFC game in over two years. UFC Undisputed 3 was released in February 2012. The game received rave reviews, and it failed to meet sales expectations. Still, the game sold over 1.2 million copies. So let’s take a look at how EA Sports could measure up against UFC Undisputed 3. To be clear, some of these elements still have a question mark until we actually play the game, so there is a fair amount for EA Sports UFC to discover.
In terms of graphics and character models, it looks like EA Sports UFC will easily surpass UFC Undisputed 3. The new game was exclusively developed for the PS4 and Xbox One next-gen consoles, so EA Sports was to focus on developing for those systems. The graphics, visuals, and character models for the game do look spectacular.
Now, let’s talk about the roster size. For a mixed martial arts fighting game, one of the most important things is the roster. Well, here is where UFC Undisputed 3 beats EA Sports MMA. By my count, the initial roster size for UFC Undisputed 3 was still bigger than that of the final roster for EA Sports UFC. This is before DLC fighters were added to Undisputed. There were well over 110 fighters on the UFC Undisputed 3 roster, and this included giving select veterans alternate Pride Fighting Championship attire for the game’s Pride FC Mode. In addition, the bantamweight division has essentially been shafted in EA Sports UFC. EA Sports UFC only has about nine bantamweights. This includes Bruce Lee, who is included as a special unlockable character for the game. While more players can clearly be added later on via DLC, it’s still a little disappointing that the initial roster size for EA Sports UFC will not even surpass UFC Undisputed 3.
Next, let’s look at gameplay modes, and this is where I believe UFC Undisputed 3 was king. Undisputed 3 essentially offered the experience of two games in one with Pride FC modes, where gamers could play in the now-defunct Pride FC organization with their altered style and rules. This meant you could fight in a ring instead of the Octagon; and you could use knees on the ground and soccer kicks. Also Career Mode for Undisputed 3 was greatly improved over previous installments. Career Mode actually allowed players to use current roster fighters! EA Sports has confirmed for the EA Sports UFC Career Mode, you have to create your own fighters. This is something I never understood. I’m not really interested in Create-a-Fighter. I’d rather just play as my favorite fighter in Career Mode. EA Sports does have the new gameplay mode, The Ultimate Fighter Mode, based on UFC’s staple reality series. This mode looks interesting, and it appears to be highly complex and interactive.
Now, let’s get into gameplay and controls. This could be an area where EA Sports UFC could easily surpass the Undisputed franchise. One highlight of Undisputed 3 was with the game’s striking. Striking in the Undisputed games usually worked great and was a lot of fun. Undisputed 3 also added a lot of interesting features to the striking aspect of the game. However, the grappling and submission area of the fighting in the Undisputed franchise always left something to be desired. UFC Undisputed 3 did alter the grappling system by making the submission attempts a type of mini-game in order to finish them. Assuming EA Sports UFC will play similarly to their EA Sports MMA controls, I actually preferred the ladder’s grappling system. So, the Undisputed games had the better striking controls and gameplay, but EA Sports MMA had the better grappling. If EA Sports UFC carries over the strong grappling system and make improvements to the impact and strength of the striking, they could easily surpass Undisputed 3.
EA Sports UFC will hit the shelves on June 17 for the Xbox One and PS4. Regardless of any issues, it’s exciting that a UFC game is finally being released under the EA Sports label. I avidly await to check out the results.