Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One
Genre: Sports, Fighting
Release Date: 3/15/2016
Two years after its first UFC title, EA Sports is back in the octagon with UFC 2 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The game features an incredible roster of over 250 fighters that includes past and present stars of the sport as well as boxing legend Mike Tyson — for some reason.
EA Canada implemented a new physics-based knockout system that works surprisingly well. Sure, not ever knockout or fight plays out realistic, but you have to remember that it’s a video game. It’s not going to be a realistic looking fight every single time, but UFC 2 is pretty damn close in that regard. Not only can you knock someone out with a perfectly placed punch to the jaw, but a kick to the gut can lead to a nice TKO. It’s a big different from the first game from EA Sports where every fight seemed to end the same exact way.
No longer does it feel like a button-mashing experience with UFC fighters. UFC 2 gives off the feel that real in-fight strategy has to be applied in order to have any sort of success. You have to fight to your opponent’s weaknesses. You can just go in and expect punching and kicking every fighter will lead to wins. More often than not, you’ll find yourself tiring yourself out and getting knocked out if you try to go that route.
The fighter customization is much deeper than it was in the original EA Sports UFC offering. There are more hairstyles, tattoos, etc. to choose from this time around, and you can even import your face onto your created fighter via the EA Sports Gameface feature. The one thing that takes away from the fighter creation, however, is the uniform deal with Reebok. It’s dumb in real life, and even dumber in the game. I’ll just leave it at that before I really get on a soapbox.
As far as game modes offered to players, UFC 2 has no shortage of ways to play. There’s the Practice Mode and Skills Trainer to help you polish your craft, a Fight Now mode to quickly step in the octagon with whomever you please, Live Events allows you to replay real-life UFC events like the recently concluded UFC 196, Custom Events that allow you to create your dream card, Career Mode, Ultimate Team, Online fights, and KO Mode.
One mode that I was skeptical on going in was the addition of Ultimate Team to the franchise. After spending a few hours in it, those concerns have been completely wiped away. It’s far and away the best mode this game has to offer, and provides a nearly unlimited replay value to a game that may have gotten dull to some sooner rather than later. The ability to create a team of your own fighters and build them up how you want while fighting for championships against real-world players gives the game a new sense of meaning. It just makes you more motivated than ever to improve at the game, and become as dominant as possible.
But for as much as Ultimate Team impressed me, the game’s career mode disappointed. After the disastrous career mode from EA Sports’ first UFC title, one would’ve expected the company to improve it in as many ways as possible over the last two years. Instead, it just feels like more of the same with the exception of being able to take members of the current roster, including the women, into the mode.
You start out working your way up through The Ultimate Fighter before earning your contract with UFC. Once in the UFC, players train in order to improve their fighter and make upgrades to their attributes and move set. Improving your fighter this time around, though, involves training in a certain discipline rather than just training and then upgrading skill points. It’s a nice twist to how to grow your fighter. You also have the potential to go into a fight injured from training too hard. But that’s where the positives of the mode end.
You are presented with choices of who you want to fight, you train and then you fight. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s really as simple as that, which is a huge disappointment. No fighter or team relationships, no rivalries and no pre-fight smack talk. The most you get is a little popup in the HUB that says what you did during a pre-fight press conference, at the weigh in, etc.. After only about an hour or so with this mode, I was pretty over it. Not a good thing, especially for someone like myself who loves single-player career modes.
From a presentation standpoint, Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan provide a solid effort and the broadcast visuals are incredible. At times, it really does feel like you’re watching a live event on pay-per-view or FOX. The arenas — Air Canada Centre, Bell Centre, Rio Arena, United Center, The O2 Arena, Saitama Super Arena, Staples Center, MGM Grand, Honda Center, Prudential Center, Toyota Center, and Madison Square Garden — look stunning, and the lighting really places emphasis on the game’s visuals. The fighters are spot on, and make you think you’re controlling their real-life counterparts.
UFC 2 is a major improvement in a lot of ways over its predecessor. From the improved knockout physics, large roster and the addition of Ultimate Team, there is a lot to enjoy with this one from EA Sports. The disappointing career mode, however, really leaves a sour taste in my mouth that stops this game from being as good as it could have been. That being said, if you’re a fan of the sport, there is no doubt this is a must-have game.
This review was completed using a digital copy of EA UFC 2 provided by the publisher for PlayStation 4.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to UFC 2