Last year MMA fans got to see how EA could handle making a UFC game and the results were a mixed bag to say the least. The graphics were amazing with fighters looking incredibly lifelike and in-fight injuries looking just as they would in an actual MMA fight. The online mode is easy to use and offers players the chance to prove their mettle against others anywhere around the world. Yet for every great new addition there was one thing that stuck out after playing the game for any period of time, and it seems that EA purposely made a bare bones MMA game. Fighters have the same basic grouping of moves despite having different fighting styles, fighter attire and banners were usually bare outside a UFC logo or the bigger name fighters having a few of their sponsors on their clothes, and the create a fighter option leaves a lot to be desired.
This list is meant to look at some of these issues and mention what I would hope EA would fix and add to the eventual sequel that will come out in 12-18 months. While EA has a track record of eventually just producing the same game over and over in a series with slight changes and improved graphics (the Madden series) or just releasing the same game the following year with a new number on the cover (FIFA on the Wii), EA has apparently made a base game that they can build upon in the coming years for the player’s benefit. With already multiple update packs featuring new fighters and game changes, EA is going the right direction, but these are just a few of the things that I would like them to touch upon in the sequels in order to make the best possible MMA game possible.
10 The Career Meter
While the new career mode was very fun and in-depth, there were some kinks that could be worked out. With the new career damage meter, players can see for themselves how their fight style is affecting their career. Stand and bang fighters may win a lot of fans with a friendly style, but the damage sustained can shorten a career, while on the other hand a grinding fighter can play it safe and earn the decision and not sustain much damage, but also not gain as many fans or big fight opportunities.
This addition was cool, but it had problems in that if a knockout artist was finishing opponents quickly and not taking many hits, they would not have much damage for the bulk of their career and then all of a sudden the damage meter would jump up around fight number 33 leading to the mandatory retirement match at fight 40. EA needs to make this a more fluid feature by eliminating the mandatory retirement or making it a more gradual damage increase. Age of a fighter should also play a part in how damage is sustained with younger fighters able to take more damage early on in their career but it eventually adds up later in the career while older fighters may receive more damage due to being older.
9 Training Exercises
One thing that EA Sports MMA had done well was in the Career Mode once a player completed a certain training exercise at a score they liked; they could repeat that exercise automatically for the same score without having to go through the process again. For some reason this feature was not put into EA Sports UFC. Many of the training exercises get tedious and boring, though they are not as bad as the tire flip exercise in UFC Undisputed 3. Adding the automatic exercising would make the career mode more fluid and save players a lot of time in building their fighter up.
8 More Diverse Career Mode
The one thing that really stood out in Undisputed 3 was its amazing career mode. Players could move their fighter up or down in weight class, fight in Pride tournaments, and have champion vs. champion fights. None of this is in the EA game. Yes you can have a “superfight” with someone in a lower weight class, but that is one match out of 40. EA really needs to ramp up its career mode if they want to keep fans coming back over and over again, rather than just relying on online play to keep players using the game.
7 Better Create-a-Fighter
One thing that THQ’s create-a-fighter mode has over its follow up in the new EA game is the ability to truly make the fighter look how you want him to. The player could choose to make a randomized fighter using the creation wheel or by going step by step customizing each part of your fighter’s physiology. From there you can add a variety of tattoos, scars, and identifying marks that make your fighter truly yours. Unfortunately, EA’s system is a bit more pulled back that includes base body models that can be tweaked here and there, and a player can only add tattoos to their fighter which come in set sizes and for set places on the body. EA needs to loosen up the reins in its creation mode and allow players more freedom when making a fighter as well as adding more creation choices for things like hairstyle and body markings.
6 Bring Back Legends/Pride Mode
One of the biggest changes to UFC Undisputed 3 was the addition of Pride Mode along with dozens of classic fighters from the Japanese promotion, including versions of UFC fighters who fought in the promotion. Along with the tournaments that were a staple of the promotion, the inclusion of Pride rules which featured soccer kicks and knees to the head of a downed opponent were added to give fans a realistic depiction of Pride. I do not know if it was a licensing issue between EA and the fighters or that EA wanted to hold off on including those modes and fighters, but whatever the reason is, EA really needs to bring the mode and fighters back as it was so well received in the last UFC game.
5 More Realism
This is not to say that EA did not make an incredibly realistic MMA game, because they did for the most part. The damage that fighters receive is so lifelike as faces and bodies bruise from damage, blood squirts from cuts and smears on clothes and skin, fighters even take a second to wipe blood from their eyes which leaves them open to attack from opponents, and the image capturing that EA did has created stunning visuals which makes the fighters look the best that they ever have. Unfortunately, EA did not give a complete representation of fighters as many do not have sponsors on their clothes or banners and the skill level of created fighters is all the same within a weight class, no matter what fight style they have.
If EA wants to improve the realism of the fight, complete the fighters’ images with sponsors and banners, give them that complete look. Also, with the steps made to make creating a fighter in-depth including the ability to change a fighter’s weight and look, they need to make that mean something more, as a fighter as heavy as Roy Nelson should not have the same stamina level as a leaner heavyweight like Stipe Miocic. Sponsors for created fighters also needs to be improved as well by allowing the player to put logos wherever they want as the set spot system on shorts and a banner really limits the creativity of the player and with the fighter shorts all for some reason being fairly short with very little space for sponsors. Also, it was a nice addition of adding The Ultimate Fighter to career mode, but maybe in the next game give the option for the player to start on the regional circuit, fighting in county fairs or hotel ballrooms, before working their way into the TUF house.
4 Promoter Mode
Madden had GM mode, so why shouldn’t there be a similar mode in the next UFC game? The ability to set up various cards and title fights using the rankings for fighters in an attempt to get a huge buyrate or TV rating would definitely work in an MMA game. If players want to play with realism there could be injuries which remove a fighter from a big fight, causing the player to hurry and find a worthy replacement that would keep fans happy. The mode could start off where the player can only book events in smaller arenas, but as they become more successful they can get larger, more prominent arenas like Madison Square Garden. Other options could include balancing fighter salaries and handling disciplinary issues if a fighter has a publicity issue.
3 Coach TUF in Career Mode
Along the line of adding realism to career mode would be giving the player the option of coaching on The Ultimate Fighter. It could be a quick simulation that would give the fighter a popularity boost and end with the coaches’ fight at the end of the season. It would be a nice touch to the game and would help in extending the run time of career mode as well as help break up the monotony of the mode which tended to become a bit repetitive near the end as the player would face the same fighter over and over again.
2 More Moves
A big issue with EA Sports UFC was the lack of moves that a player could assign their fighter. This game featured about 40-50 special strikes, in comparison to Undisputed 3 which had close to three times that amount. It also does not help that each fighting style is meaningless outside of the fighter’s stance, as the attribute values are the same amounts within a given weight class.
EA needs to differentiate between the fighting styles, as a wrestler should not have the same submission level as a BJJ fighter or the same kicking level as a kickboxer. Adding more moves allows for a diverse level of creativity when it comes to making a fighter, rather than every fighter have the same group of punches and kicks. This could be fixed by having different training camps in career mode as has been done in previous games, rather than just being trained by Mike Dulce.
1 Ground Game
By far the weakest aspect of EA Sports UFC was the ground game, which was incredibly unbalanced. At times it is incredibly easy getting off the ground and back to a standing position, by simply pressing the the left analog stick on your controller which works well even when a fighter is heavily rocked and about to get knocked out, while other times it is nearly impossible to move or defend yourself from attack. The tutorials make it seem simple enough to transition on the ground or escape from the bottom position, but once it occurs in an actual match, a fighter’s attribute level almost seems moot in certain positions like the postured guard and postured mount.
At these points the player is basically left trying to hit every button on their controller in the hopes that something works or that the round ends before they get TKO’d. The submission mechanics also need a little work as it is heavily favored towards the fighter defending the submission, unless the other player has customized a gameplan that allows for easier submissions. The system of moving the right analog stick to either tighten or loosen the hold would work better if that was how pressure was applied to the hold, rather than having to flick the left analog stick in a split second in order to secure the hold. The previous system of rotating the stick to try and cover up your opponent’s submission marker while a status bar showed how close he was to tapping out.