It’s almost fight time, and the octagon is awaiting your arrival. More than 16,000 fans pack the raucous arena for UFC 189, all of them on their feet as you make your way through the crowd, approaching your future with pride and confidence, ready to defend your Welterweight title against the next contender. Rory McDonald, a worthy opponent whom you previously won against by split-decision, anxiously awaits you inside the cage, wanting nothing more than to rip your head off and take your belt from you. Have you prepared enough? Are you ready to take this man out before he can take you out? Are you ready to end this before it goes to the judges this time?
Mixed martial arts fighting (MMA) has come a long ways from its humble origins at the ancient Olympics of Greece and is gaining in popularity all around the globe in leaps and bounds. You only have to look at the recent record breaking MMA attendance record set in Australia for UFC 193, highlighted by Ronda Rousey’s title fight against Holly Holm, at 56,214. And to top that off, the pay-per-view had over 1.1 million buys. The MMA fan base is definitely huge and EA Sports UFC 2 is hoping to cash in with these folks, and maybe even bring in some new fans.
EA Sports purchased the rights to the UFC franchise from THQ and their first release wasn’t bad. We gave it a 7.5 in our review, knocking it for not having a practice mode and needing some decent improvements in player customizations, fighters available, and in-game tutorials to name a few. Lucky for us fight fans, developer EA Canada listened to their critics and made some much needed improvements in several areas. Improvements in graphics were small, but the first release looked pretty damn good, so not much was needed in that area. Body physics were improved, though, and the lifelike appearance of a kick to the head is almost bone jarring, with knockouts looking almost as impressive as in real life. The commentators could use a wider variety of words to describe these KO’s as hearing”boom”does get old after a while, but really, how big is Joe Rogan’s vocabulary?
Before jumping into Career mode, it is probably best that you start out with a couple of great tutorials to teach you all about the grappling and submission systems by running through all of the Skill Challenges. This was one improvement that was much needed and everyone needs to make sure they run through all of the different tutorials available to learn the proper techniques available. While the action was fun before, it has become much more technical for you realists out there, depending on the skill setting you decide to play on. A practice mode was also added for those that want to perfect their techniques. For a real challenge, take on Conor McGregor on hard and you are in for one helluva match — if you have the skills to match his, that is.
The Road to the Belt
For me, I’m always a guy that wants to start a career using as much as my real info as possible, minus a few pounds of course and ripped. UFC 2 allows that by using their online GameFace app that runs in your browser. The system works OK, and there is a general face resemblance, but I really wish they would have used the mobile phone app that NBA Live 16 uses. It took a much more accurate three dimensional photo of your head and face, and then imported that into your game, leaving you with a character that strongly resembled yourself in real life. When playing NBA Live, people watching immediately recognized the character to be me, to the point of a couple of folks asking me if I had it scanned by a professional at a gaming event.
Once you’ve learned the revamped fighting system, it’s time to start your career on a high note. Your character ( male or female), with a fighting style of your choice, will be tossed into the Ultimate Fighting Championship Tournament. You’ll need to win every match in order to proceed, so this is a great time to get into that learning curve that comes with most fighting games. I found the first match to be very frustrating, but the game has an adaptive AI difficulty that lowers the difficulty to fit your current needs. That was perfect for that aforementioned learning curve, and once I got through the first two matches, the rest were considerably easier, albeit still challenging.
In between fights you’ll have a training period with a set number of days to train. How and in what area you train is entirely up to you, and should go towards your fighting style. You can train your upper body by going after the heavy bag with your hands, the lower body by going after the heavy bag with your feet, or you can work on your ground game for when you need to finish someone off while grappling around, or several other areas depending on your strengths and weaknesses. The career mode is very deep, while your fighting attributes are based on training, perks and moves can be added to your repertoire by purchasing them with currency earned by fighting and gaining fans called “Evolution Points.” These are what really take your fighter to the next level, so spend those hard earn points wisely, and try to unlock moves that fit your fighting style. One such example is a good boxer could always use a nice Superman Punch, but if you’re more of a ground-and-pound type of fighter that move probably wouldn’t help you nearly as much.
Your Own Ultimate Stable of Fighters
With EA Sports UFC 2 Ultimate Team, you can create a stable of up to five fighters using deep customization options. You can create an entire stable using the GameFace app, importing anyone you have a decent image of into the game, or you can use any fighter on the roster, which is huge. Ultimate Team, while not being your typical card based system where you unlock players for your team, like the Madden NFL series, you’ll instead be unlocking special attribute and enhancement packs. Apply these to your fighters, and you can build an impressive stable, ready to take on all comers. You can earn currency both online and offline, so it would probably be in your best interest to work offline first, unlocking some packs that will successfully help you launch your online campaign for a championship.
EA Sports UFC 2 Review - Full Contact Knockout (PS4)
For those that just want to jump in and maybe do some kickboxing, arcade style, the new “Knock-Out” mode should be right up your alley. This mode is nothing but fighting upright, with each player having a limited number of hit points that do not regenerate. This is great for some couch fun, where you have a room full of folks wanting a small taste of the game in a short amount of time. Another quick mode, albeit not available yet, is the “Live Event” mode. You’ll get to pick the winners and losers of an upcoming real-world event, and can actually play through the entire fight card. If you would rather play promoter, you can set up a custom event using the full roster of fighters, and have a local tournament among you and your friends on the couch.
EA Canada went to great lengths to listen to their critics from the previous release and have made a bunch of much needed improvements to EA Sports UFC 2. For those that still have a game save from the first title, Bruce Lee unlocks immediately for you, and those that pre-ordered will get Mike Tyson as well.
Fast loading, fast hitting, and ready to rumble, EA Sports UFC 2 is ready for the octagon.
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