It’s hard for a couch gamer like myself to encourage anyone to play UFC 2 with me, as only a handful of friends like UFC at all, and even fewer interested in playing it.
The others that do enjoy a bit of ‘sweaty dick punching’ aren’t interested in video games or don’t like the fact that I’m obviously going to win, since I have played it a lot. I attempted to play it online with Hal, whose whimpering and sniffled sobs of ‘I don’t even like this, it’s not even fun!’ meant I had to have mercy on his poor soul and end the session after two measly bouts.*
Personal laments aside, EA have provided us with another instalment of their recently acquired franchise, which thankfully, hasn’t warranted a yearly update yet. There are a few changes, but nothing significantly game changing. Grappling has been refined, now showing on screen prompts as to which position your fighter can change to with the corresponding R stick direction, which helps newcomers immensely. Sadly, the submissions system is still not for everyone and something incredibly difficult to replicate in game form. The old method remains of having to block the gauges filling up with the R stick, whilst waiting for a prompt for a corresponding L stick flick, usually in another direction. Now, my brain can’t seem to handle this, even on easy mode and I have yet to submit a fighter in an AI match, to date.
Striking, however, is as good as it ever was – if not better. Low kicks can trip the opponent when they are performing certain moves and there is a certain ‘flow’ you can get into in matches, which could best be described as a ‘counter punching’ style of timing shots for maximum damage when the other fighter is vulnerable after their own strikes. One thing I noticed that pleased me about this version of the game is how much trouble an opponent with a reach advantage can be – something true of UFC in real life.
Overall, it’s a solid attempt to simulate a sport which does not lend itself easily to videogame adaptation
Any game needs to stand up on the merits of its single player alone, rather than any online functions of which this game has plenty. And thankfully, EA have not disappointed in this regard. Career mode is something that takes a significant amount of time to complete and is very replayable once you grasp the ways in which your character can improve their stats. Gone are the days of two minute mini-fights where you try to complete objectives to earn these upgrades in favour of simple heavy bag techniques for striking, to 30 second grappling objectives. Some of these mini games work better than others, in particular the blocking activity where you score points by blocking an attack and the AI decided to simply not attack for two thirds of the fight duration.
Random events can occur which reduce the amount of training activities from three to two between fights, something I found to be annoying and not really indicative of reality at all. EA UFC 2 is obviously aiming to be a simulation, not a ‘beat ‘em up’ and as such should not contain any RNG events.
Other new additions are Knockout Mode, where UFC becomes a much more arcade-based fighter, relying on strikes only and a very short energy bar which means fights are over after about five hits. It seems perfectly set up for button-mashers, since stamina is no longer a deciding factor in matches. Also, for UFC fiends, the fight predictor for upcoming events is a solid addition. Something most fans will engage in with each other when watching events anyway, only now it can earn in-game bonuses.
Overall, it’s a solid attempt to simulate a sport which does not lend itself easily to videogame adaptation. It has a bevy of online modes to keep fans enthralled, although I would prefer a lobby system to keep a single player involved rather than having to send a fresh invite out every single match. It isn’t an easy game to simply pick up and be instantly good at, taking time and practice as it does, but once various techniques are mastered, you can feel unstoppable. For fans of the UFC, this is an essential purchase and – as a final note – kudos to EA for having the ‘extra’ fighters as unlockables, rather than paid-for additions. Last time around, that pissed me off no end seeing Bruce Lee all over the trailers, yet having to pay extra to play as him.
*It’s worth noting that ‘Hal’ actually edits this site, as he is the only one with the rudimentary capabilities to do so. Is it bold to mock him? Or perhaps stupid, given the power he wields to put much any words he pleases in Ants’ mouth?
Hal, though, is a magnanimous and forgiving editor, and believes in freedom of speech. For that is His Way.