EA Sports UFC 4 Review
The time has finally come for fight fans! A new UFC game is upon us! Coming over two years after the most recent game, UFC 4 brings an updated control scheme and graphics to the series. Players can take control of their favourite fighters or make their own for the addicting career mode. The game features numerous game modes, including the ability to make your own event with up to 11 fights. UFC 4 is super rewarding for fight fans but has fun game modes like Stand and Bang or Knockout for anyone looking to have a quick and fun gaming experience.
The core gameplay in UFC 4 is that of a fighting game. Players will take control of various UFC fighters and battle it out against the AI, their friends, or other gamers online. Standard fights use the unified MMA rules and take place over three five minute rounds. There are numerous exhibition modes in which players’ can change rules and many other settings, allowing them to play the game exactly how they want.
The career mode is UFC 4 is similar to the one present in the last game, with a few small adjustments. This time players will not choose which gym they call home. Instead, the game begins with a few brief cut scenes featuring the players created fighter and Coach Davis – the man who will soon recruit you to his UFC gym. From there, the campaign is almost identical to the previous iteration.
Players will train their fighters either with heavy bag drills or sparring in the various MMA disciplines such as wrestling, kickboxing, and so on. Each training session will have objectives for the player to complete, which will reward them with points to spend on levelling their fighter’s stats. As the career continues, players go from smaller organizations like the WFA to fight on The Contender Series and hopefully make it into the UFC. Once in the UFC, the core gameplay loop for career mode does not change. Players will be offered a fight they can either accept or decline.
When accepting fights, players’ can decide their training camp length and proceed to train and level up their fighter as much as possible before fight night. New strikes and techniques are learned by inviting other fighters to the player’s gym. Inviting fighters to train costs both money and time, but it’s the primary avenue for spending cash, so resources are often not an issue. Winning fights will advance fighters’ careers and eventually lead to them becoming a champion or even the fabled champ champ.
The online features include a ranked mode called World Championships, Blitz Battles, and Quick Fight. World Championship mode will see players battle opponents as they climb rank and try to obtain titles in different online divisions. Ranked game’s biggest flaw is that you are stuck in the same weight class until you get three wins, where this mechanic breaks is with Amanda Nunes and the women’s Bantamweight division. When you reach that rank, you are subject to non-stop Nunes vs. Nunes fights, and it is a coin toss as to who will win. Seriously, Amanda’s stats are so much better than any other woman that she is the only fighter chosen in an entire online ranked division. I guess this is the price we pay to witness the most dominant woman fighter of all time. Go, Amanda!
Besides the Amanda problem, online matchmaking feels quick, and connections to game servers are far more stable than in previous UFC games. Quick fight is the fastest way to challenge opponents online and is a great way to practice before going into the more serious ranked mode. Blitz Battles are short sometimes only minute long matches in which the rules are always changing. These speedy tournament style matches are a great change of pace from the standard MMA fighting that dominates the game. Blitz mode will have players using such wacky rules as Kicks only or a 1-minute fight. Overall the online modes surprised me with their quality and they are where I see most players spending their time with this game.
The most significant change from recent games is the controls. Both stand up, and ground controls have seen changes that aim to make the game feel more realistic and intuitive. The new striking system feels like the proper evolution of the controls in recent games. In UFC 4, I feel like I have a tremendous amount of control over minor details with every punch. The ground game overhaul is sadly the exact opposite. The old or “legacy” as they call it grappling system was confusing, especially for gamers who don’t know the basic Jiu Jitsu positions. That being said, the new system of “Get up,” “Submit,” or “Ground and Pound” feels incredibly basic. On the harder difficulties, the new system is useless. The computer dominates positions you can’t access because all you can do is “Get up” or “Submit.” You can thankfully change the controls to the legacy controls, but I feel that the new grappling system is only for brand new players. I imagine anyone who purchases the game will end up using the legacy controls for their freedom and complexity.
My Thoughts as an MMA Fan
As someone who watches most MMA events, this game is a dream come true. The fighters look more realistic than ever, and the addition of tournaments and create a pay-per-view mode offer hours of content for die-hard fans. Features like open weight fights and the stand and bang mode let fans play all the dream fights they could want. I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to see Cejudo vs. Ngannou?
Seriously though, the entire game feels as if it was developed for UFC fans. The simulated social media in career mode helps build rivalries just like in the real world. Small touches like all the fighters having signature taunts that replicate their real-world actions make the game feel satisfyingly realistic. Certain things like the new grappling system feel like a minor setback, but overall the game is enjoyable for MMA fans. Each fight has the potential to be an absolute banger, and I could sit around and play exhibition fights in UFC 4 all day.
Player models look noticeably better than in the last game, but there are still some random glitches and moments that look cartoonish. These minor bugs were infrequent and most often occurred online where I imagine players’ network speeds had a bit to do with it, so I can give the game some slack there. The character models in the game that are not fighters are standard EA sports extras. They look ok, but you can clearly see washed-out textures or faces without detail. Although, you can see Dana White cage side in the game, and his character model is A-one. Seeing Dana in the crowd, 100%, pushes me to get the finish. “Never leave it in the hands of the judges!”
The soundtrack is standard EA sports fare. Pop and rap songs from recent years play through all menus and waiting screens. The best example I could think of would be shopping at a mall, the music is just kind there in the background. Where the game audio does shine is in the sound effects. Landing different strikes can sound vastly different, and clever use of light and sound allows for impactful moments like knockdowns to stand out. The sound design in UFC 4 feels quite methodical and is a large part of why fights can feel so intense and immersive. There is also an extremely detailed audio mixer which allows players to fully customize their game sound.
EA Sports UFC 4 Review
- GAMEPLAY - 85%85%
- GRAPHICS - 80%80%
- AUDIO - 85%85%
- MMA FAN FACTOR - 90%90%
UFC 4 is a combination of a fighting game and MMA fan service, and it works perfectly. While the game doesn’t do anything that I would say is spectacular, it is definitely the best in the series. It shows that EA is learning and listening more with each development cycle. The career mode is addicting as ever and draws players in with its new cutscenes and excellent simulated social media beefs. Online play and local multiplayer offer countless hours of fun beating up your friends. Continued developer support has already seen updates aimed at balancing and promoting the online community. Personally, the promise of regular updates has me excited to see what rank I can climb to online. UFC 4 is fun to play no matter what the game mode, and is an MMA fans dream. I recommend it to anyone who wants a solid core gameplay loop without any serious commitment.
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