Boxing may have once been EA Sports’ go-to fighting game with the Fight Night franchise, but with that series on hiatus, they moved onto the ever growing UFC after acquiring the license two years ago. Their first attempt at UFC had some potential, but ultimately was a pretty mediocre experience. Choosing not to go with an annual release schedule, the developer had a chance to build even more on that first entry and that is exactly what they have done with EA Sports UFC 2.
Compared to something like boxing, UFC as a whole is a lot more complicated to master, which definitely makes it less accessible for newcomers. EA Sports’ first outing with UFC offered mostly solid gameplay, but it was still very difficult to learn. That is still somewhat of a problem here, but it definitely has seen some improvement in that area with an overall more balanced experience.
EA Sports UFC 2 offers players a large roster of fighters to choose from across 10 different weight classes, two of which are female fighter weight classes. The game gets much more intricate than that when you are creating a fighter with the ability to choose a more specific style of fighter through special attributes. These include options like Boxer, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, and Mixed Martial Artist, which alter the overall stats for each fighter to match that style.
Between the variety of types of fighters in the game, there are different ways to win in the as well. Some fighters are better in the stand-up stance by delivering brutal hits to their opponent while others are better on the ground or in the clinch. Using transitions for the latter two is thankfully much more player friendly this time around, as the game now features prompts on what to do. However, submissions can still be a little too hard a lot of the time, even with the included Skill Challenges that feel a little too easy. It definitely has improved on the original with the difficulty, but due to the challenges all revolving around points, the game does a poor job at showing how to turn these actions into a victory in the octagon.
Between EA Canada’s NHL and FIFA series, one aspect of the experience they have almost always nailed is the authenticity and that is no different in EA Sports UFC 2 with not only the aforementioned gameplay but also the presentation. The presentation in EA Sports UFC 2 is absolutely top notch that really makes it feel like the player is experiencing a live UFC fight, which is largely helped by the inclusion of real life venues like the Staples Center and MGM Grand as well.
Even more than the venues, the actual fighters themselves look phenomenal in action. The Fight Night games offered the visual pinnacle of character models last gen and UFC 2 has somehow managed to look even better in that department. This includes not only the in-game recreations of huge names like Conor McGregor, but also extends to the game’s array of original fighters that are found within specific game modes.
Adding another layer of realism to the experience are the Live Events in the game, which are exactly as they sound. When an actual UFC event is taking place, you can pick who you think is going to win and then play out the event yourself. This is one feature that will have players coming back to this game down the road just to play the biggest events, especially with a milestone like UFC 200 coming later this year. The only disappointment here is that there isn’t any sort of archive feature to try out previous events, but hopefully that is something that could come later in a patch after events are held.
While you can’t access previous events in the game, you do have the option to just create your own custom event instead. This allows you to come up with your own personal fight card, which you can customize just how you would like. This includes options like the numbers of fights and the venue in which it will be held, along with picking just who will be a part of each bout in the undercard, main card, and main event. They even include the detail of letting you choose which referee takes part in each individual fight, which is a neat touch. With the ability to participate in each fight, this is a good way to either try out many different fighters yourself or serve as an easy way to have a local party like experience with friends.
The custom events may be good for multiplayer, but the game also comes with a new game mode that is built just for local multiplayer with friends, Knockout Mode. This mode is defined as “king of the couch,” which is a little more advanced version of just a Play Now mode, where instead of the usual stamina bar you have a health bar. This is one of the most fun modes in the entire game, as you can jump in and play many rounds in no time, where the goal every time is to just knock the opponent out.
Career Mode is without question the biggest attraction within EA Sports UFC 2, which allows you to choose between a male or female fighter at the start. This is a big addition to the game, as you can now play through a fully fleshed out career with a female fighter. This was almost a foregone conclusion with the rise of fighters like Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate in the last few years, but it’s great to finally see it in action.
Players have the option to either import an existing fighter, who will feature largely reduced stats, or the ability to start from scratch with their own fighter. Every Career Mode will start off with battling through The Ultimate Fighter before you can start off your career in UFC, where you can then start to choose your upcoming opponents. After selecting one, you will then have what is typically a three part training camp that has you choosing Skills Challenges to participate in to earn points to enhance your abilities. These are much better utilized here than as a tutorial, with some interesting scenarios being included as well, such as injuries and distractions that will alter how effective certain Skills Challenges are.
Career Mode itself definitely is an improvement over the original, but it still feels like it’s missing something. Comparative modes in other EA titles have added features that make it feel like more than just fight after fight, but that is often how it feels here. What is available is done very well, but it still feels like there could be a little more content there to extend the overall career experience.
The more advanced version instead has come in the new UFC Ultimate Team mode. Rather than being limited to one fighter, you can create up to five, with the ability to even import your Career Mode fighter. Rather than through Skills Challenges, your player is improved through the cards that are common in Ultimate Team modes, though the usage of them here is rather refreshing. Instead of each card representing a player, these cards give you new moves and stat boosts that you can use to tackle either the Single Player Championships or the Ultimate Championships online to rank up through the divisions. This mode is a lot of fun to play and has the potential to get even bigger as the competition grows.
The game also has an online component, where you can choose to fight head to head in unranked or ranked matches. The ranked matches work very much like Ultimate Team mode, where you rank up through divisions as you strive to be the UFC champion. With the ability to choose from any of the weight classes, there is plenty to choose from here, though it would have been nice to see Career Mode implemented in some way here as well.
The first attempt at UFC for EA Sports was respectable in 2014, but thankfully the sequel manages to improve on it. Career Mode is back and even better this time, though a little lacking in content, but UFC Ultimate Team helps make up for that. Knockout Mode even adds somewhat of a party game element, which really helps to make EA Sports UFC 2 a fun experience by yourself or with friends for anyone who is either a fan of UFC or just can’t wait for a new Fight Night game.
EA Sports UFC 2
- Available On: Xbox One, PS4
- Published By: EA Sports
- Developed By: EA Canada
- Genre: Sports, Fighting
- US Release Date: March 15th, 2016
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Offering improvements to Career Mode and introducing new modes like Ultimate Team and Knockout Mode, EA Sports UFC 2 builds upon the already solid gameplay and presentation to bring fans a fun experience for yourself or with friends that are either a fan of UFC or just can’t wait for a new Fight Night game."
- Authentic presentation and gameplay
- Ability to use female fighters in full Career Mode
- Depth of Ultimate Team
- Party fun with Knockout Mode
- Skill Challenges are not great as a tutorial
- Career Mode could use more content