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Coming off the fun at first, but disappointing release of UFC in 2014, EA Sports found out how hard it is to make a fun but simulation style UFC game.

Do you try to make a game that is similar to the popular 2012 THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3, or try something new? Will UFC 2 become the Demetrious Johnson or Kimbo Slice of UFC games?

The gameplay is fun for newcomers and experienced cage grapplers. This year, it seems EA gives an advantage to the player that plays to their fighter’s strengths. So if you try to get into a slugfest against Chris Weidman or taking Ronda Rousey to the ground game, you are going have a bad time.

Each fighter feels like their real life counterpart, which makes for fun and different matchups and fights.

Having a history of making boxing games, with the Fight Night series, the stand-up game is phenomenal when throwing punches and kicks. You feel the power, speed, and weight of the blows.

The KOs you give to opponents will leave you grinning ear to ear.

By putting a combination on an opponent, you take half of their health putting them in the danger state. Then dropping them with a well-placed hook, uppercut, or flying knee will have you fisting pumping the air in glory. Like a double-edged sword, the AI can do the same, and if you get careless you will make mistakes.

The hardest part of making a UFC game is making the clinch, ground and submission controls easy to pick up for newcomers and still in depth for veterans.

With the negativity surrounding the controls in the UFC 1, EA Sports went back to the drawing board to make the experience easier for players.

Like many recent EA sports games, there is a “trainer” mode, which gives tips and reminders by having the controls pop up in a menu.

While it helps at first for the stand-up game, it shines during the clinch and ground game. The name of the move pops up in a wheel, and then the player holds the right stick in a direction to attempt different transitions.

By holding the left trigger along with the left stick, the fighter will try a takedown or submission depending on the position.

In getting more experience with the controls, you will be able to pull out different types of takedowns and attempt a variety of submissions that you would be terrified to attempt when first starting out.

With all the improvements made, there are still occurrences from UFC 1 and even the Fight Night series that leave you pulling the hair out of your head.

Starting off on a bad note, you have no idea what fight style your fighter uses. Is he or she a boxer? Kickboxer? or wrestler? Other than previously knowing what style your fighter fights with or hearing it during the fighter intros, there is no way to known. This leaves someone at a serious disadvantage when going up against a high difficulty level AI or experienced online fighter.

Another significant issue with the game is stamina. There is nowhere near enough of a penalty for players continuously striking. Using sense, I am trying to block their strikes and trying to capitalize on the fact that they are tired. So, why is it that I am at the same or lower level of stamina was my opponent for trying to fight smart. It is frustrating knowing that I cannot go in for the kill because of this. The only good thing that comes from this issue is that it mostly appears online.

Another problem that has plagued the EA Sports fighting games is reach. It is even a bigger problem when there is no punch or kick accuracy rating.

While it can be done, you are going to have to work for it to land headshots with shorter fighters.

I understand that reach is a huge part of UFC, but when all the opponent has to do is walk backwards when the smaller player is on the attack, evading nearly every time, it can be frustrating. So get used to seeing Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, and Holly Holm when playing online.

Compared to other EA Sports and sports games, the presentation is really good, but it can leave much to be desired. When talking about graphics, these are the type of games you want to show off to sell the console.

Fighters look life-like, and with full body scanning, tattoos and body marks appear life like.

The “create a fighter ” function has returned and gives the player more control over the appearance of their fighters. By changing the size and depth of the face, you can create yourself or create a monster.

The menus are easy to navigate through, finding “fight now,”“game modes” and “options” is not a problem. The long loading times that UFC 1 was filled with have been fixed.

EA Sports did a really good job in replicating UFC overlays to feel like you are watching a live event. The biggest downfall presentation-wise is commentators Mike Goldberg, Joe Rogan, and ring announcer, Bruce Buffer.

EA took a different approached when it came recording the three. Along with bringing them into a recording studio, they took sound clips from actual fights for moments you cannot replicated in a sound booth.

While this sounds good on paper, it only works for high-level fighters like Conor McGregor. Goldberg and Rogan go into depth about his fighting history and style. Like what we hear on TV.

This is most noticeable in career mode. I lost count how many times Goldberg said that this fight is the “biggest fight in my career.”

Buffer is also guilty of this with his intros. With real fighters, you can feel the passion and excitement in his voice and it gets you excited for the fight. But when he gets to your fighter, his voice is monotone, and loses all of the excitement that was building.

Depending on the type of player, one could be excited or disappointed by the modes offered in UFC 2.

For offline modes, “fight now” is an exhibition fight with either CPU or 2P. “Custom Events” is where you can make upcoming UFC cards or have your own dream events. “Practice mode” and “Skill challenges”, helps you learn how to fight by putting you into situations.

I am more of an offline player, so the majority of the time I spend in a sports game is playing the career mode. So it pains me seeing how EA Sports gave zero thought of the career mode considering how it is the same as UFC 1. It is probably the worst career mode in a sports game I have ever played. An excellent career mode allows you to get sucked in by having a world move along with you. In this game, there is zero interaction with what is going around them. Gone are interviews, cut scene, and weigh ins, the only you can do is pick an opponent, train, fight, and repeat.

Unless keeping track of your fights, there is no option of seeing your fight history in game. You have no idea what is going on with other fighters, other than having a “news” section, which only gives you “Jon Jones beat Daniel Cormier.” That is it.

Only allowed to change weight classes once and never move back, not having fight camps hurts help improve a particular style hurts the replay ability of career mode.

Good luck winning the Fight, KO, or Submission of the night. In my 35 fights, I was surprised to find out when I did win.  I somehow got KO of the night twice, but the only time I won submission of the night was when my fight was the only fight ending with submission during event.

When it is time hang up the board shorts, the game just says that you retired. No special cut scene, no hall of fame video, just the “choose fight” option turns into “retired.”

New to the series is “Knock Out” mode. This mode is a blast to play with friends. Similar to a fighting game, fighters have a health bar that goes down with a big hit until they are KO’d. It leads up to stressful moments where one well-placed hit can ended it.

With removing the clinch and ground game, it is easier for players to jump in a play.

Along with improving the unranked and ranked experience, the primary focus of the online this year has been the inclusion of EA Sports popular online mode, Ultimate Team.

Different from most UT, instead of using real fighters, UFC 2 allows you play with your created fighters to build their stats by using cards. Card moves or perks are universal or weight class specific. Having a team of five different fighters, you can mix it up and use weight specific cards. While the game is incredibly fun to play against friends or online, having all of the game mode improvements involving online modes, while there is not an in-depth career mode option for offline players. Leaves this game with a full, but still hungry feeling in my stomach.

by Tyler Bennett

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