After 21 months since their first UFC licensed release, EA Canada is back at it with UFC 2. Featuring a roster of over 250 fighters between all 10 UFC weight classes (Heavyweight; Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, Welterweight, Lightweight, Featherweight, Bantamweight, Flyweight, Women’s Bantamweight, Women’s Straweight), and 11 game modes, I had a busy weekend digging deep into its second installment in the franchise.
Developed by: EA Canada
Published by: EA Sports
Release date: March 15th, 2016
Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed) / Xbox One
Launch Price: 59.99 USD
PRESENTATION / GAMEPLAY
( + ) Does well to help teach both new and returning gamers, with tutorial pop-ups as you play.
( + ) The fighter models in UFC 2 are noticeably better than the first game. Especially the detail put into the face and body damage.
( + ) The striking feels more crisp and clean, in comparison to the first game. Pulling off combos almost feels effortless at times and the animations look great.
(+/–) Rare, but some of the wonky body animations / glitches still happen. Disappointing for some, but still a true “LOL” bonus for others. As these can be quite hilarious at times.
( – ) Button configurations are still the only choice for strikes. So, fans of the analog striking in “EA Sports MMA” and/or “Fight Night” will still be disappointed.
( + ) Remodeled grappling mechanics: This is the first thing returning players will notice.
Instead of the quarter/half circle analog movements of the past, now players are prompted with position choices as soon as they are in the clinch / on the ground. Simply hold your right analog stick in the direction for what you want your fighter to do. Of course, your opponent can still block these and quickly perform their own transition. So, the chess match of the ground / clinch game is still very much intact, but without the wear and tear on our analog sticks. [EA Canada, our controllers thank you for this.]
Is the ground / clinch game not your thing? Then you will enjoy the new “Knockout Mode.”
Choosing from any of the ten weight classes, you and a couch partner go head-to-head in a stand-up only fight. No clock, no rounds — just knockouts. Presented like an arcade fighter, the stamina bar from the normal modes is replaced by a life bar of 1 to 10 blocks (Your choice while making the match), with each block representing a hit. You can also choose a “Best of” (3, 5, or sudden death) as well as a “Parry Recover” option, which gives you some life back if you successfully parry your opponent’s attack.
Notice I said “Couch partner.” As fun as this mode is, sadly it is only available Off-Line. Which is unfortunate, because it would have been a great addition to the online options and could have been a selling point to some of the casual MMA gamers. But, for those players I highly suggest you check out the updated “Skill Challenges” and “Practice” modes, because the ground / clinch game is truly a fun mechanic – once you get the hang of it.
Returning online modes are the usual Unranked and Ranked fights (labeled as “Quick Fight,”Online Rivalries,” and “Ranked Championships”). A revamped “Career Mode” returns, as well, for those that like to take a UFC or Created Fighter from scrub to champion. Other than “KO Mode,” the other modes new to UFC 2 are “Custom Events,” “Live Events,” and “Ultimate Team.”
“Custom Events” allows you to create (and save) a card of 1 to 11 fights to play against friends, the CPU, or even CPU vs. CPU. This is another missed opportunity for a great online mode, that could have been like the event mode in “EA Sports MMA,” years ago.
“Live Events” was not live yet at the time of writing this review, but this mode is designed to be a ‘Pick-em’ style mode, that will revolve around players predicting the outcome of real Live UFC events.
Last, but certainly not least, “Ultimate Team” rounds at the new modes in UFC 2. If you are familiar with Madden or FIFA’s “Ultimate Team,” then you pretty much know where this is going. If not, let me explain: UFCUT is part “Create-A-Fighter” and part Card Game. You create up to five fighters, from a selection of only four of the ten weight classes (Lightweight, Middleweight, Heavyweight, and Women’s Bantamweight).
You are then tasked with putting moves/attributes/perks into your fighters by collecting cards and applying them to your fighters. These range from common Level 1 (Silver) cards to rare Level 5 (Gold) cards. The better the card, the better the attributes, perk, and/or move is. Cards are acquired from packs that you obtain by purchasing with coins. You earn coins by completing fights in either the “Single Player Championships” or against online opponents in “Ultimate Championships.” The more you play, the more you earn, and the better your fighters will become.
Also, fighters will fight for you while you are away, earning you coins in the process. Just remember to collect them at the UT main screen each day. If grinding for coins is not your thing, you can also spend real money to purchase “UFC Points,” which can be used for buying card packs as well. This mode is a great addition to the franchise and is kind of reminiscent of “Best of the Best.” It will be exciting to see who can build and manage the best fight teams — and back them up with their skill.
Unfortunately, there is no Auction House or Trade Block like those offered in Madden and FIFA. So, if there is a specific move or perk you are looking for, your only hope it to get it in a pack yourself. Hopefully an Auction House/Trade Block is something we could see the team add in “UFC 3” — if not an update for UFC 2.
I am pleased overall at what the EA Canada team has done with UFC 2. It is a step up from the first game, but, as fun and exciting this installment is, I can already imagine what they can add in “EA Sports UFC 3” to make the franchise better. (coming Holiday 2017, if their 21 month development cycle between 1 & 2 is any indication)
This is both a good and bad thing:
Good, because there is always room to improve and build a franchise to the best that it can be (i.e. adding a KO Mode and Ultimate Team.) Updated graphics are not enough, these days.
Bad, because some of these things feel like they should be in there to begin with. (i.e. Online option for KO Mode, Auction House/Trade Block in UT, and Online Event Cards), which can cause some gamers to be suspicious and angry, leading them to believe it’s the developer just plotting what to make “new” in their next entry.
Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic follow-up to their Freshman UFC title. So, if you were a fan of the first one, you will love it. If you’re new to the franchise / genre, give it a rent and check it out for yourself.
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