The reviews are piling in for EA Canada's EA Sports UFC, the first of what hopefully becomes a long-running franchise. The results are mostly positive (even more-so than what I had been anticipating) with a lot of reviewers praising the graphics and stand-up game, while others lamented the submissions and some frame-rate hiccups.
Originally, I was worried that some casuals would get into the game, put in a few hours, hate it and then rag on it in their review. Much to my surprise the reviews are of a higher quality than what I was expecting.
They also mention that the create-a-fighter mode is extremely limited if you don't use the Game Face feature, preventing players from really exploring certain creative outlets for wacky fighters such as pro-wrestlers, singers or other sports stars. This was a common issue that some of the other reviewers mentioned as well.
Videogamer also knocks the game's grapple system, something that was also put down by Canadian Online Gamers. While Canadian Online Gamers liked the stand-up game, the career mode and the graphics, they only scored it a 79 out of 100, mostly due to the blocking system and the submissions, where they wrote that...
"Simply put, I am not a fan of the “submission mini-game” as I found that it took me away from the fight and aggravated me more often than not. More specifically, when a submission move is applied, an octagon gate is overlaid on the screen. You then have to use your right stick and flick the left stick in order to escape a submission or to further apply one. It seems simple at first but in-game and especially against a human opponent it is difficult to pull off.
VGRevolution had an opposite take on the submission game, giving the game a 9.0 out of 10 and praising the game's graphics and sound, but specifically saying that they liked the submission system because it was “streamlined very well.”
Game Revolution, scoring the game a solid 4.0 out of a 5, shared a similar view with VGRevolution, though with a bit more reluctance, writing that...
“Though somewhat strange at first, the submission system works brilliantly once you figure out how to mix up the pressure with the right stick and be aware of the prompts on the left stick for offense.”
I will interject here and say that Game Revolution really has it right with the submission and grapple system. It does come off “strange” when you first get introduced to it, but after spending a week trying to understand it, it makes perfect sense. EA found a way to balance a system that's fair for the person in the submission and the person applying the submission so it's not just some random button-mashing fest for either player. You have to pay attention, you have to stay calm and you have to know what you're doing (for both the aggressor and the defender).
DarkStation has a very thorough review of EA Sports UFC, scoring it 4.5 out of 5, noting that it's a “very good start” for what's hopefully going to be a fleshed out series of games. They do get more into the nitty-gritty of the performance issues, noting that frames do drop at times. The issue of frame-rate pops up a couple of times in the reviews, but usually it's not a common-enough occurrence to damage the game's aim for fun.
A few of the reviews did note that there is no option to create female fighters, and that the lack of being able to play the real-life UFC fighters in a career mode was disappointing. Otherwise, the game appears to have scored rather favorably in the eyes of most reviewers, which is more than what I was expecting.
EA Sports UFC is available right now for $59.99 on both the Xbox One and the PS4.