Since EA Sports took over the UFC License from previous publishers THQ, the two games that they have released so far haven’t quite lived up to the expectations that were set and have fallen considerably short in their promise while not being as well received as the previous THQ games were. EA Sports have released the third game in the UFC Series, hoping to right the wrongs from the past two games and ironing out the kinks to make a more fluid, harder hitting MMA game. All the modes you may expect are present here with one of the the stand out features being the totally reworked and revamped career mode, now named G.O.A.T Career Mode.
What EA Sports have done with the career mode is take out the grind that hinders so many fighting game careers. It involves working your way up from the bottom to become legendary and claim the greatest of all time status. Decision making plays a big part as you will have to manage your fighters training and picking the correct camp before each fight makes a lot of difference in which skills you improve. Picking the length of the training camp also determines how long you have to manage your fighters wellbeing and popularity. Each week you get 100 points to use on various things like promotions, training techniques, new moves and carrying out contract tasks in line with the UFC. At the beginning of the new week those points reset so managing these various things require some strategy.
For example if you happen to pull your shoulder by doing too many heavy bag drills in one week, it may be worth taking a break in the following week to get some physiotherapy or spend some time with your fans at meet and greets or doing a Q&A on social media. It certainly adds a strategy to the career that doesn’t feel grindy at all and adds depth without being too complicated. There are a number of contractual obligations that are to be met and by not meeting these could result in dropping down the pecking order or even having your contact terminated. Cutscenes happen in between fights with things like press conferences, weigh ins and promotions that are part of the news broadcast ‘UFC Minute’ which is a nice touch and adds tension and raises the hype for your fight.
The career mode has some great pacing and with the management of promotions, fighter fitness and contract obligations it adds the depth required without being over complicated. In terms of customisation, I was left a little disappointed with the limited scope for fighter creation and other things like attire choices. It was all a little lacking in these departments and I felt restricted in giving my fighter a unique look that reflected on his personality. Despite the limited customisation, I enjoyed my time with the career mode and it made a change to not have to grind my way through to become not only champion of one weight but also a double champion of multiple weight classes, eventually becoming an inductee in to the UFC Hall of Fame.
There is no denying that UFC 3 has a huge roster, the biggest roster ever in a UFC game. The choices of the fighters on offer gives plenty of variation so no matter which style you prefer to play, whether that be standing and banging or a wrestling ground game with submissions, there are endless choices to compliment your play style. While the roster is packed full of current and past legend fighters, it’s disappointing to see some that never made the cut, particularly a few of the legends like Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar, especially seeing as the latter appeared in the last game. Despite this though UFC 3 has a very impressive selection of fighters and gives players a rare opportunity to make up their own fantasy fights that could never happen like Chuck Liddell vs Mark Hunt or Forest Griffin vs Jon Jones and many more.
The presentation of UFC 3 is absolutely fantastic and is one of the best looking sports games I’ve ever seen on any format. The likenesses of the fighters are brilliantly recreated with huge amounts of detail and realism so accurate that it looks as realistic as watching an actual UFC Pay-Per-View event on your TV. Animations are smooth and movements look as realistic as ever with a ton of new animations added in to this years game. Each fighter has their own animation style, closely based on their real life counterparts and it’s truly a joy to see the smooth animations and realistic visuals in action. Authenticity is oozing out of UFC and like any EA Sports title, everything is represented as it should be including the fantastic commentary and a the brilliantly accurate introductions announced by none other than the legend himself Bruce Buffer.
Not only does it look and sound fantastic but overall UFC 3 plays well too and the stand up aspect of it is certainly a huge improvement over the last game with punches, kicks, elbows and ground and pound all having the desired impact that you might expect from an MMA game. It has been somewhat lacking in this department over the last two entries but I can tell that EA Sports have really invested time in this and have taken notice and listened to what the community wanted implementing. The improvements in the stand up side of the game is also partly down to the additional animations incorporated in to UFC 3 as it allows for a more precise and fluid stand up fight than what we have experienced before. Each connecting punch and kick has been fine tuned to be as close to an actual UFC fight as possible and EA Sports have pulled it off tremendously, which almost makes me think about what they could achieve if they decided rebooted the much beloved Fight Night series.
Where the gameplay unfortunately falls short however is in its ground game. Transitions and submissions feel somewhat lacking and haven’t really changed much since UFC 2, if at all with some defensive movements being slightly unresponsive. Transitioning on the ground and trying to pull off a successful submission feels like a real chore and lacks any kind of skill or strategy, instead relying on pure luck. It isn’t too basic by any means but it’s seriously lacking in real depth and skill, feeling more like a mini game than a tactical battle on the floor. It’s unfortunate that the ground game feels this way especially seeing the overhaul that the stand up aspect has gone through. It certainly isn’t terrible and can be fun, with some tension at times but with the lack of any skill required and more about being a guessing game, it can become frustrating and I felt like the game was almost forcing me to stand up to bring back the momentum, which is disappointing as the ground game plays a major part in the world of MMA.
Ultimate Team returns and hasn’t really changed since the last game. It still involves trying to build the strongest team of fighters to take online or compete in offline tournaments. How you build your fighters up is by purchasing tiered card packs that contain certain boosts, moves and stat increases that you can apply to your fighters. These can be purchased with in game currency or by buying the packs through real monetised microtransactions which I am not a fan of at all. Luckily these microtransactions are limited to Ultimate Team and don’t intrude anywhere else in the game. It is worth mentioning though that unless you like to really grind your way through this mode then purchasing these packs are possibly going to become a regular thing if you want to progress to compete with other players as it’s very difficult to build a good team by just slowly earning in game currency.
Online performance in UFC 3 was stable throughout most of, if not all of my online fights. There were no issues finding a fight with the matchmaking being pretty quick and easy to get in to an online battle with very little waiting time. There were the odd drops in connection but nothing that were intrusive and lasted only a second or two but this happened maybe 3 times in the 15 online fights that I had so the online aspect is pretty solid as is to be expected from an EA Sports title. There are numerous amounts of online modes to play through including timed live events that happen over the course of a set period, where certain matches, challenges and PPV match ups can be played. Overall UFC 3 is a huge improvement over the last two games that they have previously released. While it still isn’t perfect, it certainly offers a fun fighting experience with quite a lot of content that will keep fans of the series busy for quite some time. It’s bursting with various game modes whether that be offline or online so there will definitely be something for everyone to enjoy. If you’re a fan off MMA or UFC, then you are certainly going to enjoy this.