You Should Be Excited For EA Sports UFC
On June 17th 2014, EA Sports UFC will released for Xbox One and Playstation 4. To many, this will just be a new sports game release. Run of the mill, nothing untoward. However, thinking like that could mean missing out on one of the best next-gen experiences available this year, as EA Sports UFC represents so much more than a new MMA video game.
I’ll get this out of the way early: I love Mixed Martial Arts. I’ve been a huge fan for about 7 years now and the growth of the sport in that time as a fan has been incredible to watch. If you know nothing of the sport of MMA, here’s a quick run down: fighters compete in a sport that combines elements from numerous different martial arts. Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling and Jui Jitsu represent the standard disciplines found in fighters, but other styles such as Karate and Sambo find their way in too. Combatants compete in 5-minute rounds, with normal fights having 3 rounds, and championship fights having 5. Fights end in one of three ways: a knockout, delivered from strikes on the feet or on the floor, submission, typically a choke or contortion of an opponents limb while on the mat, causing them so much pain that they have to submit, and finally decision, the fight running the course and the judges picking the winner. There are a huge number of rules involved from things such as no eye gouging/poking or groin strikes to no grabbing of your opponents shorts or kicking a downed opponent to the head. Hopefully that explains the sport in a brief enough sense.
Now, what is the UFC? Think of the UFC as the NFL of American Football or the Premier League of Soccer. It’s the pinnacle of the sport, the highest benchmark for fighters and where the sport’s elite compete. The UFC was nothing like it is now back in 1993; if you want to see what the looked like, go search UFC 1 on YouTube. 160lb guys wearing one boxing gloves were fighting 300lb Sumos. It was chaos. In 2003, however, Dana White, the current president of the company, Lorenzo Fertitta, and Frank Fertitta bought the company and immediately set about legitimising MMA as a sport. Slowly but surely rules were introduced, safety was implemented and bigger television deals came in, and it all culminated with a reality show called The Ultimate Fighter, which was the breakout moment for the sport. Fast forward to today and the UFC is one of FOX Sport’s main players and the sport is fairly popular.
I believe every gamer who has a next gen console should be excited for EA Sports UFC in some way, and here’s why: EA Sports have had a pretty rough start to this console generation. They launched with Madden 25, FIFA 14 and NBA Live 14. Madden and FIFA were glorified ports of the last gen versions with upscaled graphics and little-to-no gameplay changes while NBA Live was just an utter embarrassment. These games did not make a good first impression for EA’s next gen sports engine Ignite. That’s where UFC comes in. This game will be the first developed for next gen consoles with Ignite being the starting point from day one of development. Go and look at some of the screenshots and gameplay for the game, and you’ll see that they’re gorgeous. The detail in the fighters from superstars like Jon Jones, Georges St. Pierre and Ronda Rousey down to less high profile fighters such as Joe Lauzon, Brad Pickett and Erik Perez is something that has to be seen to be believed. It will have the same effect as the original NBA 2K14 trailer did all those months back.
It reminds me a lot of another EA Sports game that did so well in the early days of the last generation. That game was Fight Night: Round Three, which was made by the same team working on UFC. The game looked so good that everyone had to get it to show his or her mate what the future of this generation was going to look like. People who had no interest in boxing whatsoever picked up a copy because it had such wonderful reviews. I have a feeling UFC will have a similar release.
Provided the fighter damage, arenas, Octagon, commentary and gear have the same level of detail and attention that the character models have received, then this will easily be one of the most well presented and graphically impressive games of the year. If they can build a deep yet fun gameplay system that’s easy to pick up but hard to master, and include some immersive game modes, then this will be in the running for best sports game of the year.
So, even if you don’t care about MMA, or know anything about it for the matter, that shouldn’t stop you looking at EA Sports UFC. It has the potential to be EA’s showpiece into what their Ignite engine has the potential to create. I say this because big MMA fans such as myself are obviously going to buy this game (there’s nothing to worry about from that perspective), but at this point the game looks so good and has so much potential that it would be wasted if just played by seasoned MMA fans. I implore you to look further into EA Sports UFC, and while you’re at it, check out some fights, too. You never know, you may just fall in love with a new sport.
Oh, and Bruce Lee is in the game. So, if that isn’t enough to excite you then I don’t know what is.
EA Sports UFC is scheduled for a June 17 release in the US and a June 20 release in Europe.