Review: EA Sports UFC – As Real As It Gets

We’ve heard a lot about a new next generation exclusive UFC game being powered by EA Sports’ IGNITE Technology that would capture the athleticism, dedication, power, aggression, physiology and emotion of being a real UFC athlete. But how does this next generation title fare in the face of this tall order? The short answer: very well. Read on to find out exactly what the tale of the tape is.

This is one of the best looking sports/fighting games made to date. EA Sports UFC uses the IGNITE engine and really showcases what it is capable of. No two fights are ever the same and cuts, bleeding and bruising are all realistically developed during a match. Fighters’ cuts will get worse as they take more damage and bruises will become more visible as the match goes on. I have been able to cause cuts over eyebrows, on cheeks and bruise a fighter’s legs and abdomen. Also if you decide to continue to attack a region that has been damaged you will see more detailed results, such as a kick to the abdomen crumbling a fighter over on the canvas or a leg kick causing a fighter to limp or even fall.

I highly recommend trying the demo or playing through the tutorial as it takes you through the basics of striking, modified striking, defending, takedowns, transitions and submissions. This is a lot to remember in a short time for a novice player. The good news is that if you had played a previous version of UFC Undisputed the controls will feel familiar to you and you can get by pretty quickly; this also applies if you played the previous EA Sports MMA title — you’ll be familiar with the stamina gauge and conserving energy to not get gassed.

Where the demo really moved into uncharted area is with the submissions; these are initiated, guarded and completed totally different than any other title to date. The controls for striking are tight and intuitive and will have you putting together blocks and counters together rather quickly.

EA Sports UFC - 02

“A champion is defined by the adversity he overcomes.” – Anderson Silva

Once you choose a fighter then you can see the match settings which are: Difficulty, Match type, Round Length and Venue. Once you begin loading up the match you will get random game tips and fighter quotes to keep you busy before Bruce Buffer announces the two fighters. Graphically the IGNITE engine makes UFC look great in and out of the Octagon but you will see some occasional issues here and there.

One thing you may notice is an occasional hit detection that didn’t quite register or a fighter’s limb looking blurry as he/she strikes near the cage. One other graphical oddity I noticed was during certain submissions, especially arm bars, my opponent’s arm would clip into my fighter’s body.

EA took great care in making sure the feel of a real UFC fight was captured. Everything from the announcer (Bruce Buffer the official announcer of the UFC), referees (Yves Lavigne and company), the Octagon (complete with sponsors), fighter trainers and even Octagon girls were meticulously scanned and give an authentic feel. Even the commentary puts you right into the fight with Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg calling the action and letting you know when a cut to a fighters cheek is getting worse or repeated leg kicks are damaging a fighter.

EA Sports UFC - Choking 1

Once all the intros are done, you now are in for the real treat: fighting! Whichever fighter you choose, even on the locked in Easy difficulty, be prepared to be challenged both standing and on the ground. I have played easily over a few dozen matches and each one has played out differently with me winning and losing in a variety of manners, from TKO to KO to Flash KO. Striking in the game feels crisp and you cannot just spam punches and kicks as you will deplete your stamina and make yourself susceptible to a takedown or a counter strike, which could lead to a KO. Takedowns can now be modified and you have the ability to shoot for a single or a double leg takedown now.

Transitions and guard passes require you to know which direction you want to go to and what ultimate position you desire (i.e. the full mount, side control or taking someone’s back). Controls on the ground can be frantic at times as there are many vulnerable positions while on the ground and you will find yourself scrambling quite a bit. Playing against the AI, the transitions feel very simple and fluid but against a real opponent the tides change quickly and transitions are very much dependent on opportunity and stamina.


“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” – Bruce Lee

Ground and pound is brutal and if you can capitalize on a position you can easily end fights with big punches from the top, but you are never defenseless in the game and can reverse, strike or go for submissions to get yourself out of bad situations. Flash KO is something that when you get them feel very satisfying but when they are done to you feel kind of cheap. The Flash KO at times feels a bit out of place, especially against certain fighters whom are known to have strong chins.

Striking was pretty simple to pick up and get used to the different technical modifiers while submissions continue to feel foreign. Beginning a submission and defending it may seem simple but completing one is a whole other story. Submissions depend on how much stamina the attacker and defender have as well as their submission stats.

The UFC Career mode is really where the game shines and immerses you into the feeling of being a real fighter. You begin as an unknown fighter that goes onto the Ultimate Fighter show in order to make it into the UFC. Once you win the Ultimate Fighter contest you will then be vaulted into the UFC to fight in undercard matches until you build up enough popularity and fans. As you win fights in the UFC, you will also earn XP for your level and Evolution points, which you can use to level up your skills (i.e. punching, stamina, different moves, submissions, etc.).

The game tracks your overall career damage as you progress, so the damage your fighter takes during each fight will accumulate over time and shorten your career. The game also keeps track of all your fights and if you won or lost through submission, KO or decision. Aside from wins and losses, the game also keeps track of your time spent fighting, significant strikes landed/taken, takedowns and even your favorite submission.

EA Sports UFC - 01

In the beginning of your UFC career your matches are typically on the undercard until you build yourself up to the PPV and main event card by fighting the top ten fighters in your weight class. Before you accept a fight offer, you always get a glimpse of your opponent’s stats, record and fighting style before you start training. You then are taken to the gym and begin a trio of training exercises to build up the fighter’s stats. The training typically is some kind of combination of striking, ground, wrestling and defense that seems to be random, which keeps it fresh.

Aside from training and assigning Evolution points to skills or moves you want to acquire, you can also set up Gameplans. You get a total of three Gameplans, each with a total of five abilities that span striking, ground and physical attributes. Gameplans allow you to further customize your fighter for certain situations, such as if you are fighting against a ground specialist, a knockout artist or an overall fighter.

When certain things happen in your career — losing your first match, win streaks or winning your first decision — you will get other fighters, trainers and even Dana White videos to talk about it with you. One annoying thing is that every time a fighter video clip is triggered the PS4 gives you a message in the upper right-hand corner that the “Gameplay recording paused/resumed because you have entered/exited a blocked scene” so you can’t record that portion that is being played.

UFC (2)

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee

Fighting Online is where you bring all of your offline skills to use against other players and really is the closest experience to feeling like you are in a actual fight. The seamless transition from offline to online is nice and finding other players is very simple. The number of current online fighters is displayed and is then broken down by weight class.

Once you pick a weight class to fight in the server will look for an opponent and off you go. You don’t know who your opponent is until after the match is over so anonymity is maintained before and during the bout. Some major sponsors are missing, like Nike and Burger King for example, but the other usual suspects all appear (i.e. Affliction, Headrush, EA and RevGear).

All in all EA Sports UFC is a great fighting game that embodies the strategy and fighting prowess needed to be an ultimate fighter. The game does a great job making each punch, kick, takedown and submission feel as real as it gets without having to step into a real Octagon. This is a must have for any MMA or UFC fan and a must try for anyone who really wants to learn the sport and understand what it is all about.

The essence of the game can be summed up like so:

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”  – Bruce Lee

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Join the Discussion

  • GoldenBay

    @Al_Zamora:disqus A very well analyzed and in-depth review, kudos.

    • Boerewors

      Couldn’t agree more.. And Al looks like the kinda guy who can throw a mean punch himself in a brawl, so I trust his expert opinion 😉

      • Al_Zamora

        LOL, maybe.

    • Al_Zamora

      thanks appreciate it.

  • Bruce Lee, taken from us way too soon, and the same for his son, Brandon. I’m going to buy this game just so I can kick ass with the one and only legend that is Bruce Lee.

    • Al_Zamora

      I was very surprised just how small Bruce Lee was compared to some of these other fighters.

      • ipot_04

        well, he is Asian.
        apparently, most Asian’s are shorter than Americans.

        • Al_Zamora

          His frame is small. But he is fast and precise with his strikes.

        • Gamist

          Well, he was born in America and, if i remember correctly, he’s a quarter white from his grand parents. :/

          • Peter1111

            So he was born in American and so what, that dosnt make him american. He lived the half of his life in China. His father was Chinese and his mom cantonese. Sorry i dont see the logic…..

        • Edtium Wong

          I am sorry…. Asian is also American.
          American is an nationality not a race

    • BerserkBat

      He was taken from us so early, because God needed an awesome bodyguard.

      • KerinJunqueirausp

        Jacqueline implied I’m taken by surprise that a mom can earn $8130 in 1 month
        on the computer . see post F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

    • doom guy

      Amen bother or sister.

  • jordan2412

    The ground game in EA UFC is absolutely terrible. They really should have went back and seen how it was done in Undisputed 3. Its leagues better…. Im a huge UFC fan, but I dont know if I can buy this.

    Takedowns are laughable. Only a couple animations between fighters. No normal takedowns either, all flashy and over the top moves, ones you never see during a real fight. Plus, takedowns heavily rely on your stamina bar, to the point where someone can have 1 leg on the ground and not get taken down from a perfectly timed takedown because the stamina bar is higher than yours….

    Transitions are basically the same deal. Not gonna go into detail….

    To put it simply, the game is too gamey now for me. They’re leaving any simulation aspect far behind…..

    • Al_Zamora

      The ground game is the same as Undisputed tho. I would have liked more takedown styles but I guess you can only ask for so much for a first iteration. Transitions mimic Undisputed and are all about timing. Right now I think what makes it gamey is the flash KO, seems like those pop up online too much and I do not fight for KOs.

    • Timothy Nicoletti

      The game is too gamey? What do you expect it is a game. I know I play games to have fun and relax, not to have a stick up my ass like it is my job to recreate everything as it is in real life. I played the demo, and yes there were things that could be better. Some attacks feel weightless. It is not perfect, but I found the more and more I played the more fun it was as I learned the controls better. I found myself being able to protect myself better and pace out the fight more consistently. Maybe you just suck and expect the game to do everything for you, which in that case what’s the point.

    • bez87

      Got to remember this is the first game aswel, it took THQ 3 goes to get it pretty good, I loved EA MMA that game was so fun to play, THQ’s games seemed a bit to complex at times, but I did like the feel of the weight behind the punch, but I’d give these time to get it right, I mean a few patches and it may play better,

  • SaiyanJedi_Trunks

    This was a fantastic and thorough review, Al. You gave some excellent details of the game and what to expect…which seems like a new experience each time. Also, loved your included quotes especially from Bruce Lee. He will certainly be my choice as a character! If I may ask, how did you like playing as him?

    • Al_Zamora

      Thank you. I enjoy having Bruce Lee added, he is in a couple of different weight classes and for the most part his striking is strong and fast, his ground and submissions are less powerful.

      • SaiyanJedi_Trunks

        Thanks. I could see why they would make his ground and submissions less powerful…his whole style of combat was flowing and pretty much finishing off his opponents in seconds without having to ground him lol!

  • “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” – Bruce Lee


    Definately picking this game up

    R.I.P Bruce Lee….#TheWorldsGreatest

    • Al_Zamora

      Thanks dude

    • Jeff Maxwell

      Pour water into a bottle, its still a bottle

  • BerserkBat

    Wow, I was definitely not expecting this and in a good way too! I pre-ordered the game a week ago, but I said to myself it seems like an alright game and probably not that good. This review has made me all excited for today! Thanks!

  • ipot_04

    If you want don’t want to see the notification, “Gameplay recording paused/resumed because you have entered/exited a blocked scene”, open the Share menu>Share Settings>Video Clip Settings then uncheck “Display Icons for Blocked Scenes”.

    • Al_Zamora

      Good to know, that is a bit annoying at times. I guess they dont want you to reproduce the fighter video clips.

      • ipot_04

        Yeah that was annoying even in the demo, I actually thought that the demo is doing some automatic streaming when that notification appeared. lol

  • Tony Polanco

    Great review, dude! I only played a little of it myself but I completely agree with everything you said here. I want to pick this up myself.

  • Console_Shill_Killer

    900P. A shameful display.

  • Raymond Ebanks

    Great review. I liked the quotes and detailed account of the game.

    • Al_Zamora

      Thanks dude, I was trying to go in as much as possible as a big fan of the sport.

  • Trencher

    I was so happy they released the demo…. to keep me from buying this game.

    • Al_Zamora

      It isn’t for everyone, if you are a fan of MMA and the UFC then for sure.

      • Trencher

        I’m a huge fan of MMA and UFC.. but I’m also a fan of Fight Night and these controls are awful… Far to much button combos and modifiers to be any fun.. not fluid at all.

        • E Cash

          It’s too complex for you, it’s ok.

          • Trencher

            Its not a matter of complex.. its a matter of fun.. and mashing buttons isn’t fun. There’s a reason why Fight Night got so good when they went with the “skill stick”.

          • E Cash

            Mashing buttons? This game is clearly NOT a button masher. This game requires skill to master, I don’t know what you’re playing brother, but this game has a learning curve.

          • colbyJ

            It does not require skill at all, you get turned around and get with hit with random shots thanks to the “ignite” engine. Fight Night “stick control” does take skill.

          • E Cash

            *Does not require skill at all* means you are a nerd. Are you that good? I’m a veteran at video games and would not rate this game as harshly as you, but kudos to you if you’re that good. Respect.

  • That shot with Anderson Silva is insanely realistic!

    • Suavearmadillo

      Where’s the shot of Silva? Am I blind? I feel like im going crazy looking for it.

      • Suavearmadillo

        I guess thats him with the beard. Not immediately recognizable to me.

      • Before this page its the article that you click on.

        • Suavearmadillo

          AHHHH I see it, yea that really does look insanely good.

  • PerryTanko

    Of all the fighters EA could have used on the cover, they chose these two guys? LOL

  • Consoletards_Are_Scum

    9.0 just like 900P. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

    Consoles. Not even once.

    • Tescecular

      PC. Not even once. LOL

  • Manuel Cipagauta

    no ps4 giveaway? 🙁

  • cbeezely

    Picked it up yesterday and stayed up all night playing it, and to be honest I love it! It really does feel realistic, and I feel as if I am there. Great review!

  • ipot_04

    One thing I’m disappointed about is the lags are noticeable and I’m not talking about internet lag but FPS dips..

  • Pingback: EA Sports UFC Review Round-Up | Cake()

  • wrestlefan01

    played the demo and didnt like it…however i had some instore credit at gamestop and while i am waiting for the last of us remastered and destiny to drop i figured i would pick this up..surprisingly it runs better than the demo is a pretty good investment if you are fan of ufc..i would still prefer the ufc unleashed games over this though

  • Volpejr

    This game is terrible. Unresponsive controls, unstable frame rate.. a ton of clipping and glitches.. the hit detection is way off. It’s an unfinished game.. things like touching gloves and sprawling, among other things, are missing. The game is a 6 at best.

    • Al_Zamora

      I would not say its terrible by a long shot. It is missing little things like touching gloves but that is cosmetic. The game runs well and requires a high level of skill to enjoy. Hit detection is off at times when fighters throw strikes together but unfinished no way. Being the first one they made for this gen of consoles they did a good job, but there are things they will need to add next year

  • THEundying27

    Excellent review. I really enjoyed the demo. It does have a learning curve but it feels rewarding being able to dominate on the ground.

    Did they add the water actually coming out of the water bottle when fighters take a sip? With all the attention to detail it would be very silly if they didn’t include it in the final version.

    • Al_Zamora

      Still no water which did bother me. Lol

      • THEundying27

        Yeah I know now, I ended up buying it last night. I played for about 4 1/2 hours straight last night, I’m very hooked. I notice the frame rate is very unstable when your training at the gym which is very annoying especially during when your practicing your footwork. I really hope they fix this.

        So far I’ve been doing pretty good on normal difficulty. I decided to try and exhibition match and upped the difficulty to hard and I got annihilated. That’s when I realized I still have a ways to go. 🙁

        I love fighting games and this one is pretty technical which is fine by me. It’s challenging, frustrating and rewarding which in my opinion captures the real essence of the UFC.

        Thanks for the review. I really enjoyed the demo especially when my ground and pound started to improve. I was going to buy it in day 1 but I usually don’t buy EA games at launch for obvious reasons. But there’s not denying they created something good here and I hope they keep investing time and effort into it and make it a better experience.

  • Duke

    The fighting in this game is good but to take it to the next level, they need to up the presentation and fix career mode. Also I don’t know why EA does it, but they seem to limit careers in Fight Night and now UFC to 40 fights. You fight against people later on in your career who are in their forties and have had near on 60 fights. That should be fixed up. Good game but would rate it an 8.

  • Franky the Friendly Black Bear

    shit cause of the bad reviews, nobody will buy it so the online-mode wont last very long…

  • Is there any Nike Obuv on the feet in the game?