Two years ago EA stepped into the octagon and delivered an experience which had a lot of promise but ultimately fell short due to a number of flaws. Fortunately, fan’s complaints have not fell on deaf ears and, as a result, EA has crafted UFC 2. UFC 2 is not only amazing visually, but it has fun combat mechanics to back it up. EA’s second attempt is by no means perfect, but it is a great step in the right direction.
As soon as you lay eyes on the in-game Octagon you can tell that a lot of care has gone into ensuring that every minor detail of each fighter is done justice; this is especially impressive considering the massive roster of over 250 fighters. Fighters move fluidly across the Octagon with a variety of animations, and it’s hard not to wince when you see your fighter take a punishing strike. From CM Punk’s tattoos to Conor McGregor’s beard, every facet of the UFC is represented in exceptional fashion, so much so that UFC 2 can easily be considered as one of the best looking titles of this generation. Unfortunately, the audio does not fare quite as well due to repetitive commentary in addition to poor sound mixing that drowns out Bruce Buffer’s announcing.
The general gameplay is an improvement over EA’s first outing. Small tweaks such as two buttons for blocking and the new knock-out system have gone a long way to make the gameplay feel much smoother. Improvements have also been made to ground gameplay with a clearer HUD that makes finding your way around on the mat much more intuitive. Make no mistake though, UFC 2 is not a perfect simulation of MMA; the gameplay can look downright comical at times especially when two casuals players are duking it out inside the Octagon. This issue is partly due to UFC 2 trying to cater two audiences and being stuck in the middle; the gameplay is too simple to be an exact simulation, but too complicated for casual pick and play.
EA has done a great job in adding content to this year’s iteration with a few new modes as well advancing previous ideas. Career mode has returned, and with new random events like gym closures and short notice fights, it is a little more interesting this time around. Still though, career mode is very routine with a basic structure of training mini-games and fights which limits the scope of what rising through the ranks and becoming the next Ronda Rousey could be. While it is still enjoyable to watch the fighter you have invested time into become champion, it would be nice to see a fresh take on the generic ‘rise to glory’ formula in the next iteration.
Interestingly, EA has opted to include their famous Ultimate team mode in UFC 2, however unfortunately the mode does not fare as well in the Octagon than on the Football field. Unlike in Madden or FIFA, UFC 2 tasks you with creating five fighters, making a stable and upgrading them with coins earned through fights. The mode’s biggest problem is the pay-off for grinding coins which is finding more powerful moves as opposed to unlocking real-life athletes like in EA’s other titles. The lack of any meaningful rewards makes the mode the weakest of the bunch.
Outside of single-player, UFC 2 has also come up with imaginative ideas to entertain players. The new knockout mode is a fast paced striking-only venture that is great for newcomers of the series. With no take-downs allowed and only a handful of strikes required to KO an opponent, it is a clever mode which invites players to keep coming back for more. On the online front players can now take part in ranked matches to move up divisions and become champion. The division idea is good and it adds a lot of tension to each match-up as you stand to lose progress if you make a single mistake.
Overall, UFC 2 is an enjoyable interpretation of Mixed Martial Arts. With smoother combat and a number of new modes, it is a title which has a lot to offer to both UFC and fighting game fans. The visual presentation is astonishing and the roster is a love letter to any long term fan of the franchise. There are clearly areas where the game could be improved, but UFC 2 has enough quality and quantity to warrant a purchase.
UFC 2 is an enjoyable interpretation of Mixed Martial Arts. With smoother combat and a number of new modes it is a title which has a lot to offer to both UFC and fighting game fans.