It’s time to finally get the review for UFC 3 out, having spent much more time with the game following the Road to Review last week. Has EA’s overhaul of the series for its third outing resulted in a G.O.A.T. fighting game, to match the goal of its single player?
As mentioned previously, the single player is a much more streamlined and engaging affair, and you can read more in depth about it in our Road to Review. Where in the earlier games you would just do some basic training and pick fight contracts, your character here has a bit more of a personality. It’s not an incredibly deep offering when it comes to rivalries, with the interactions happening through social media to gain hype, but the addition does bring you into the world of UFC a little bit more. What I did find is that my male striker had a few more opportunities to reply to messages, compared to my bantamweight female fighter, despite having the same number of rivals.
You’ll create a fighter for the career and choose their style be it a brawler, a wrestler, or submission specialist. If you go for brawler or striker, for example, then your stand up attributes like striking will generally be better, as long as training is focused on them. It’s with these fighters where you’re more likely to score knockouts. Meanwhile, the submission and wrestling fighters are much more comfortable in grappling positions, with their fights likely to end up on the ground and finishes either coming from ground and pound, or tap outs.
I played the career with two characters, first with a striker and then with a submission specialist. During these playthroughs it was the striker with who it was harder to get decisive wins with. Many bouts would go into the second and third rounds, eventually ending in a TKO or judges’ decision. On the other hand, many of the fights using my submission fighter resulted in wins within the first couple of minutes of the first round.
The submission game feels a bit cumbersome at first, but it all does eventually click. As in previous games, the submissions come in the form of a mini game using the analogue sticks. The aim is to block progression by a fighter using the right analog, and transitioning with the left when the prompt appears. Initially it does feel a bit daunting, but after a couple of fights the submissions clicked for me and transitioning through them started going smoothly.
On the other hand, the grappling itself can be a lot more challenging to overcome. As with the real deal, you need to pay attention to the movements of your opponent during transitions to either block them or find an opening to move into a better position. However there are points where there’s nothing you can really do to stop a beatdown. For example, if an opponent postures up from top mount and starts throwing punches, it is very hard to grab an incoming fist to stop the onslaught or to move in to another position. Most of the time the end of the fight will be reached. In stand up clinches, blocking knees in the Thai clinch seem to be temperamental too, and a few of those will heavily damage the fighter on the receiving end.
So far online, you don’t appear to really need to worry about grappling and submissions, as most players seem to prefer to stand and throw strikes. Before you head online, it is definitely recommended you do some of the career or watch the tutorials, because in this space things are a lot tougher to handle.
Front and centre in online play is UFC Ultimate Team. Here you can put together a team of real and created fighters, with packs dealing out individuals, moves and perks. Every fighter you get will have a series of core moves, but the more flashy and damaging moves are found in packs. Each move can alter the attributes of a fighter for better or worse, depending on their fighting style. For example, a takedown will be much more favourable to a wrestler than a striker, even though you can apply the same moves to any of your fighters if you’re willing to take the hit to your Chemistry.
The main area of contention will be the perks. In a few of the packs I received my perks included better stamina, and a stronger chin to offset damage. You won’t know which perks and bonuses your opponent has, so you can’t anticipate what their strengths or weaknesses will be before a fight, which is the antithesis of how real fights and contracts are organised in the career and the real world. Do these perks have an impact? Undoubtedly, with some being favourable to you while others more favourable to an opponent.
You can avoid all of this though and choose to fight in the standard online divisions where there are no perks and cards to worry about, instead simply focusing on the real world fighter in front of you. Out of the two modes, the standard online division fights felt more balanced and fair, compared to the Ultimate Team ones and I’d personally stick with this mode to satisfy the online portion of the game.
The in-game action and presentation all looks and sounds as it should. After throwing out and recreating all the player animations from scratch, the movement of the fighters is fluid and the ability to get straight back up from a knockdown albeit wobbling mimics reality very well. Strikes flow smoothly in general, though there were a couple of moments where they didn’t quite connect, making fighters get a bit tangled up. Shooting for takedowns and submissions are also smooth, while ground submissions and reversals again look like the real deal.
EA UFC 3 is a good representation of the sport franchise, offering a well put together fighting game that represents the different styles and weight classes found in MMA. The action in the octagon mimics reality very well, with a decent career mode helping people to learn the ropes. On the online front, there’s a divide between Ultimate Team and standard online divisions with the latter winning out in both accessibility and fairness. If you’re a UFC fan in general, then this is a good game to pick up.
Version tested: PlayStation 4