RADICAN: Review of “EA Sports UFC 2,” One of the Most Complete MMA Games to Date

By Sean Radican, Guest Contributor

The following review of EA Sports UFC 2 comes via PWTorch writer Sean Radican. For this review, he played the PS4 version of the game.

On the heels of the average “EA Sports UFC,” “EA Sports UFC 2” brings about major improvements all-around that make this one of the most complete MMA games to date. The game looks good, plays fantastic standing and on the ground for the most part, and the visuals are incredible. This is a big improvement over the original installment of this series under the EA Sports banner.

One of the things that drove me crazy about “EA Sports UFC” was the high amount of flash knockouts and needlessly complicated ground game. That’s all gone this year in “EA Sports UFC 2.” Punches land with satisfying fun, and both online and offline I noticed that KOs were much harder to come by than in the original game. Overall, the gameplay can lean on the technical side and needs to strike more of a balance between arcade and simulation. At times, the game seems too technical and can lack the fun factor that casual gamers might seek. The stamina meter depletes rather quickly if you spam punches and kicks. At times it seemed it depleted too quickly, but on the flip side the stamina meter is a nice counter to online opponents that like to spam big punches and kicks.

Luckily there’s a more arcade-like Knockout mode. Once you connect with a certain number of unblocked shots to the head, you can knock out your opponent. This mode is fun and will definitely be something to utilize if you’re playing with friends at home.

The very first thing I did when playing the game for the first time was fire up an exhibition match between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. I punished Diaz with blow after blow to the head and he wouldn’t go down. The fight went four rounds before I finally finished him off with some big punches after stacking his guard on the ground. It’s fun to have an all-out slug fest that lasts and involves a lot of strategy, but ultimately it doesn’t seem balanced when you score a KO and when you don’t.

The ground game in the first installment of this series was nothing short of frustrating, with a series of joystick manipulations to maneuver on the ground. This time around that’s been scrapped with an intuitive ground game that allows you to naturally move in the offensive and defensive position on the ground. In the previous game, I would get flipped on my back when I was in the mount position. This caused me to stop playing “EA Sports UFC” for good.

For the latest installment in this series, I really enjoyed the ground game, although the tutorial still leaves you guessing how to succeed with some uncomfortable shoulder button mechanics combined with the right stick when it comes to blocking transitions on the ground. It really doesn’t feel natural and hopefully EA Sports can improve this in the next edition of the game. Despite not being able to naturally block transitions, it’s still possible to escape sticky situations on the ground.

I wasn’t a fan of the new submission mini-game. Instead of using directional joystick presses to either tap out your opponent or escape a submission, something more natural should have been implemented. This mini-game took me out of the action when it came to finishing my opponent with a submission. A big display coming on the screen that completely eliminated the visuals of the game for the most part just feels like something that should be scrapped in the future.

When you play exhibitions or in Ultimate Fighter mode, you’re given an on-screen guide that shows how to do everything you need to do to succeed in the game. This is a huge enhancement, as there’s a steep learning curve for all facets of the game, but once you master them all, it becomes second nature to pull off every difficult punching combination and parry.

The game comes complete with over 250 male and female fighters. They look fantastic and fight like their real life counterparts. The entrances and visuals are stunning. The commentary with Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg is adequate and enthusiastic, but it could use more variety. I was a bit surprised with the high rating given to C.M. Punk, but maybe EA Sports is privy to scouting information from Punk’s camps prior to his injury that I don’t have access to.

The new game engine is great and the animations for punches and strikes look natural and land with an impactful thud. In addition, knockout animations aren’t canned, so there are some great looking knockouts that see your opponent go to the ground in a pile just as you would expect to see on TV.

There’s a lot to do in “EA Sports UFC 2” when it comes to game modes. You can do so much, but the mode that kept me while getting into the game was Ultimate Fighter mode. You can either take a skin from an existing fighter or create your own in this mode. Although I wish the game was livelier while training for upcoming fights and sharpening the skills of your created fighter, this mode really helped me become familiar with the controls before going into other game modes. Your created player in this mode has a shelf-life, so it’s best to finish your fights as quickly as possible. Once the meter in your career mode fills up, your fighter retires.

There’s also the debut of an Ultimate Team mode where you can take up to five created fighters and improve their skills by collecting cards. You can get by without actually having to spend money in this mode, but this kind of mode just doesn’t seem like a natural fit, as it does for soccer, football, hockey, and basketball games.

Overall thoughts: 8.0 – “EA Sports UFC 2” is a fantastic game. It has some shortcomings in certain areas, but this game is fun to play and a huge improvement over the previous installation in the series. The game can be a bit too technical at times and relies on a deep control system. With some tweaks, the controls and gameplay would strike the perfect balance between simulation and arcade. In addition, some improvements in the submission game and Ultimate Team mode, this franchise could go to the next level and be worthy of mention alongside the very best sports simulations in existence. Thumbs up.

EA Sports UFC 2 is currently available for Xbox One and PS4 online and at most retail stores where videogames are sold.

Follow Sean on Twitter at Twitter.com/SeanRadican
Email Sean at PWTorchSean@Gmail.com

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