For months now, both hardcore and casual MMA fans have been waiting for the release of the latest collaboration between EA Sports and the UFC. The chance to play with an overpowered Conor McGregor was almost too much to bear. How does the latest instalment rank, though?
To preface this article, I will say I did not have the pleasure of playing the original EA UFC game. The last EA combat sports game I played was EA MMA, which I found to be a delight against the competition of the UFC Undisputed series. However, EA MMA was released way back in 2010, in a time where Anderson Silva was unbeaten in the UFC, Randy Couture was still fighting, and at release, Brock Lesnar was still the UFC Heavyweight Champion. What a time to be alive.
Focusing on the single player career mode of EA UFC 2, though, I would have to say EA have backtracked in quality. Yes, the likenesses are fantastic, the graphics are amazing, and the combat is arguably slicker than it has ever been. The career mode, while innovative in its own way, is a step back from the way they changed the genre back in 2010. In real life, a fighter can start off as a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter reality series, which, if won, leaves you in a well ranked place to start your career with the UFC. In EA UFC 2, however, winning the entire tournament will leave you ranked bottom of your respective weight class for some reason. In the 2010 game, you started off as a guy who joined a gym, had amateur fights and worked his way up the ladder, making rubbish money to start with before building yourself to be better with camps run all over the world, focusing on different arts of the sport. It felt like a very real career path, unlike EA UFC 2’s version.
On top of that unrealistic scenario, you start off by facing random computer generated characters for your first 10-15 fights, upon where the difficulty level goes through the roof. The highest rated fighter I had faced during my career during that time was Augusto Montaño, who right now is pretty much unheard of, and is 1-1 with the UFC. After this fight, however, I was thrown to Demain Maia, who has had 22 career fights with the company, and after that, it never gets easier. In fact, by the end of your career, you’re stuck facing guys who are rated 99/100 overall, and it feels impossible to win at times.
The innovation in the career mode comes from the training system, and after each certain amount of fights, you take damage in ways that restricts your ability to train and ultimately will force you to retire. However, once you’re later into your career and fighting better competition, this is when these effects kick in, so it makes it even more of an uphill battle to beat beasts like Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler.
Moving onto the online feature of the game, and while playing ranked competitions over the internet, this game is not like FIFA 16, where you have a system upon which you will face teams of a similar level. No, in EA UFC 2, it’s fair game as to who you will be facing, so if you want a decent record, pick the better fighters. I personally have a rule where I refuse to play as the best fighters on the game; so, much like my avoidance of Barcelona on FIFA, I don’t play as many champion characters in the game. However, if you’d like a list of who you will be facing online, it will largely go like this:
Women’s Strawweight: Joanna Jedrzejcyzk
Women’s Bantamweight: Holly Holm
Flyweight: Demetrious Johnson
Bantamweight: Dominick Cruz
Featherweight: Conor McGregor
Lightweight: Conor McGregor
Welterweight: Conor McGregor
Middleweight: Luke Rockhold
Light Heavyweight: Jon Jones
Heavyweight: Cain Velasquez
Plan accordingly, and try not to get riled up by the guy on the other end of the microphone acting like you’re actually going head to head in the Octagon. EA do offer you added bonuses for not using these fighters and have a specific “featured fighters” section for each day, which give you even more points towards a promotion in rank.
While the career mode could be better, and online is full of idiots, EA UFC 2 is a great game to sit around and play with your friends. For those of you who are amateurs at the grappling side, they even have KO mode, where it is just standing and you have a certain amount of hits as a life meter.
It’s unquestionably entertaining, just maybe not quite as engaging as EA’s initial foray into the MMA world.