EA Sports UFC 2 Review - The Undisputed Champ

I'm not going to lie to you: I really, really enjoyed the first EA Sports UFC. Sure, it lacked substance, modes and depth. But the moment-to-moment gameplay was incredibly satisfying. Getting a takedown and knocking somebody out had never felt so good. That's why I was thrilled to hear that EA Canada was making a new UFC game. And after playing the game for countless hours, I can't wait to tell you more about this one; I wholeheartedly believe it's the best MMA game ever made.

Now, my first impression came when I first started the game. Just like most EA Sports video games do these days, you get introduced to the experience by a mostly scripted cinematic opening. And my God, the presentation in this game is stunning! Pound for pound, UFC 2 has some of the best character models I've seen in my life! Fighters look like their real life counterparts, and the cuts and blood look fantastic. But the little things are the ones that truly impress me. The presentation looks exactly like the actual UFC events. The camera shots, the logos and on-air looks, the realistic commentary, the octagon, the sponsors, the clothing. It all looks parallel to the real thing! Games with visuals like this one prove that flawless presentation can massively help you get immersed in the experience.

Let's talk about gameplay, because at the end of the day, I think it's the most important aspect of any game. Luckily, UFC 2 plays just as good as it looks. Basically, they took what made the first game such a satisfying experience, and polished it as much as possible. The stand-up game is as good as it has ever been. And with the new physics-driven knockout system (that leads to jaw-dropping knockouts) and a greater control over your fighter’s head movement, the fights feel a lot more fluid and realistic. 

Realistic might be the word that best describes this video game. Throwing a jab feels as rough and painful as it should feel. Locking in and armbar and trying to get your opponent to tap makes your heart race. Pacing yourself in order to keep your stamina is absolutely important. It all feels real. Also, EA Canada has overhauled the ground game. The endless marathons of spinning the right stick in every possible direction are over, thanks to an all-new grappling assistance display that I actually quite enjoyed. It is easier to understand, without it actually being easy. I should mention, this is not a game that you just pick up and immediately understand. At first, you will be lost, and you'll probably lose a lot. However, once you play through the tutorials and visit the practice mode, things get really interesting.

Let's take a second to talk about modes. That was the main problem I had with the last game. You could play exhibition matches, career mode and online. That was pretty much it. Thankfully, EA Canada has fixed the mistake. UFC 2 has a variety of fun, unique modes. A KO mode, that takes away the ground game and clinch elements to essentially become a "Boxing until somebody dies" contest. A better,deeper career mode. A brand new Ultimate Team mode that lets you create your own squad, fighting with up to 5 different fighters (male and female) while opening packs that give you better moves and attributes. You also have a custom event creator, online matches and championships, and even a live event mode in which you get to predict upcoming UFC match ups. If that's not enough for you, then I don't know what to tell you.

Another thing I wanted to discuss is the AI. Not nearly enough people are talking about it. I think it's incredible! Now, when you play on the easier difficulties, you will get the typical, moveless opponents you can knock out without a minute. But on the harder difficulties, you will get the most lifelike AI in any MMA game. Fighters like Anderson Silva will play the countering game, waiting for you to be the one who throws. Taller opponents will keep their distance, in order to use their reach to mess your face up. And blood warriors like Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler will try to take your head off from the very beginning. It takes the experience to the next level.

Talking about taking it to the next level, let's talk about the roster. It's humongous! Biggest roster in any MMA game ever. From legends like Chuck Liddell, Georges St-Pierre and Royce Gracie, to the current biggest fighters in the world (like Jon Jones, Conor McGregor and Holly Holm), and even newcomers like CM Punk and Sage Northcutt. There's a fighter for everybody. While there are a couple of noticeable omissions like Patrick Coté and Tom Lawlor, you simply can't complain. This roster is extremely rich.

Lastly, I was almost sure that the online modes and servers would be a mess;but to my surprise, they're working extremely well! No lag or performance issues. These are splendid news, as fighting and defeating a human opponent is always more hard and satisfying. It's so refreshing to see a game whose online components are actually functional, and EA deserve props for that.

As far as negatives, I don't have many. The main one comes with the career mode. When compared to the last EA Sports UFC, it's a big improvement. You actually get to pick your opponents, and the way you train and upgrade your fighter is much better. However, it doesn't feel dynamic enough. What do I mean by that? Well, I feel like your performance should directly affect your career. If you've gotten 10 spectacular knockout in a row, you should immediately be a title contender. I'd also like to see small things that keep things different, like having the ability to pick and change the gym you train at. While this career mode is an enhancement, it can still feel like a long grind.

Other than that, my last gripe is one that I've had for the past 3 or 4 UFC games: THE RING GIRLS NEED BETTER ANIMATIONS. When you compare the almost human fighters to the lifeless, stiff girls, it's painfully obvious that EA Canada needs to improve their looks.

Verdict: EA Sports UFC 2 is the best UFC game ever made. The Presentation, gameplay, roster and smooth experience are unmatched. If you're an MMA fan, this is a must buy. If you're not, you might want to give it a shot. There's a chance you'll understand what makes this one of the best sports in the world.

The Good
- Stunning Presentation
- Fluid, Realistic Gameplay
- Modes
- Largest Roster Ever
- Clever AI
- Smooth Online Experience

The Bad
- Career Mode Needs Improvements
- More Animations (Ring Girls)

Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available on: PS4 (reviewed) and X1
Release Date: 2016-03-15
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by EA

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