EA Sports UFC franchise is still relatively young, with the first title releasing in 2014, a few years after THQ sold the license to Electronic Arts. However, even though there hasn’t been many instalments in the franchise, EA managed to improve the game drastically compared to 2014 and 2016’s entries respectively. EA Sports UFC 3 serves as a sequel to EA Sports UFC 2, with the current UFC lightweight champion and hottest name in the mixed martial arts scene, Conor McGregor, as the cover star.
Conor McGregor’s incredible ability to hype up games and create off-the-ring drama prior to matches while backing up his trash talk in the ring as well is probably one of the main reasons he is considered one of the greatest ever fighters to step foot in the octagon. This description of The Notorious fits UFC 3 so well. UFC 3’s new G.O.A.T. Career Mode gives more spotlight to your off-ring activities, including training, promoting your upcoming match, learning new moves, unlocking new perks and so on.
The G.O.A.T. Career Mode allows you to create your own customised fighter and for someone who wants to create a memorable figure in the industry, this can take some time, especially with how detailed you can get. After you are done creating your octagon alter-ego, you are thrown right into the octagon for your first fight in an amateur MMA franchise, World Fighting Alliance. Right from the get go, you can sense your jabs, kicks, hooks, blocks and everything feels so much smoother and responsive than its predecessor. EA Sports revamp of the stand-up game is noticeable and it adds so much to the experience.
However, not the exact same can be said regarding the ground game. Once you get taken down or take down your opponent to end the game on the ground, you start noticing some of the problems UFC 2 faced. First of all, the submission defence system is still the same four-quadrant mini-game of tug-and-war between you and your opponent or the AI. It completely takes away from the thrill and high-paced action usually found in UFC match-ups. Not only that, its button-mashing alternative isn’t the best either, in my opinion, it completely lacks the ability to reflect the technique put into these submission holds.
One of the most important elements of today’s entertainment is hyping up fights, and the activities available to you prior to each game allows you to do just that. Once you choose who you are going to fight, after taking a look at a summarised comparison between both of your stats, the match’s hype level, the amount of money you will get and so on, you are allowed to choose a gym to train at for the weeks building up to the fight. Several gyms are available, each with their own speciality. Some gyms offer wrestling training while others offer kickboxing. As you work your way up the ladder and have enough cash, you can gain membership in better gyms to learn higher level moves and unlock new perks. I found myself spending hours in pre-match preparation, planning how to effectively spend my limited 100 points to hype up the fight, learn new moves and train to get my fitness up to the level needed.
The beauty of UFC 3 shines when you manage to back up your social media beef you built up to the fight by landing one of the new moves you learned at your gym. Seeing your opponent reeling while your fighter lands a deadly roundhouse kick to their temple to crown you the new champion of the world is a thrilling sensation, made much more realistic with EA Sports impressive visuals and noticeably upgraded impact system. During fights, you have to make sure to preserve your stamina correctly to land that deadly shot. Spam kicks and punches and you’ll watch them lose power and you’ll become vulnerable to big hits. This balance needs practice and patience, adding an exciting element of anticipation to the game.
Other modes are available for players to play as well, there is Ultimate Team, probably EA Sports’ most famous online mode especially in their FIFA franchise, and a Snoop Dogg-commentated Knockout Mode. Ultimate Team allows players to collect their favourite UFC fighter cards, including your own created fighter, and take them into Solo Challenges, Single Player Championships and online Ultimate Championships. Players can open packs to get everything they need for their fighting roster, including contracts, special moves, perks, boosts and more. EA Sports also introduced Sets to the mode, similar to FIFA’s Squad Building Challenges, where players can complete certain sets and submit them to gain high-rated or special edition cards.
All in all, EA Sports UFC 3 is definitely a big step in the right direction for a franchise that is still relatively young. The studio worked on UFC 2’s flaws and revamped the stand-up game, introduced an engaging career mode that emphasise the importance of off-ring activities and introduced new features for Ultimate Team players. However, EA relatively failed to capture the high technical ability it takes fighters to put their opponents in submission holds by turning it into a relatively dull mini-game. Mixed martial arts finally got the game it deserves, with slight room for improvement.
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