What is it that you look for in a fighting game? An empowering control system that gives you maximum flexibility to control your fighter the way you want? Check. An immersive experience that feels like you are in the octagon? Check. A career mode that engages you in and outside of the octagon? Check.
The truth is, whatever you’re looking for, UFC 3 has it.
When first installing, I had mixed expectations for EA’s newest installment in their UFC franchise. When I first played UFC 2, the previous title, it felt as if it was too predictable and lacking the real feeling of watching an MMA fight. Ultimately it lacked some major mechanics and an immersive career mode, which along with the multiplayer lag, made the game only slightly enjoyable, and sometimes frustrating. However, EA Canada was able to improve on most of these aspects, leading to an overall better playing experience.
When launching the game, EA starts off with a riveting video of Conor McGregor’s rise to stardom. Although repeated from last year, the choice of McGregor being chosen again fits in with EA’s direction and emphasis for their newest title. Not only is McGregor a world renowned fighter inside of the octagon, he is also known for his antics outside of the octagon. This goes perfectly for EA’s idea for their G.O.A.T mode, where promoting and trash talking is a key component of the revamped career mode.
Gameplay wise, UFC 3 still uses the Ignite engine, and although games like Fifa have switched to the Frostbite engine, there’s no doubting how great EA’s third installment looks. Player likeness makes the fighters look the realest we’ve ever seen in a fighting game, from their body types, to their animations and taunts, each player has the certain characteristics you see in real life. However, the customization in the character creation studio did leave a disheartening feeling, as a wider variation and more options such as that in WWE 2k18 would have been nice. Ignite does however allows for one of the best damage models ever seen in any genre of game. Every punch, kick, and takedown leaves an impact on the player models. Throughout the fight, you can see each mark, big or small, of every strike that hit.
The grappling system remains unchanged from its predecessor with its continuation of its use of the right thumbstick to transition into and out of different positions, and it still feels bland and awkward, leaving an undesirable feeling in that aspect of the game. And the four quadrant submission feature makes a return, and although simple and easy to learn, the system takes away from the fighting aspect of the game, creating a mini game that disconnects itself from the fight itself. Overall the ground game isn’t nearly as enjoyable as the stand-up game, which is a disappointment considering half of the sport is the ground game.
However, the redone stand-up game is where the real strides and updates to UFC 3 shows massive improvement. Almost everything about the striking has been redone. Both the button inputs and the degree of effectiveness of each strike has been tweaked, changing from the button-bashing that we saw in EA’s previous installment, leading to an overall more enjoyable sequence. There are now 3 health bars, the head, legs, and body and each regenerates at different speeds, adding more strategy inside the octagon. Additionally the kicks felt far less superior than in UFC 2, they are of course still effective, as long as you time them well. The new system transforms the game into a more tactical MMA experience, just as it should be. EA also freed up the right stick for ducking and dodging only, while the left stick controls movement, allowing for movement while throwing strikes, which makes the game feel more controllable. Movement, spacing, and timing now prove to be very important and a major key aspect to learn if you plan on playing online.
That is of course, if the servers run smoother than last year’s installment. The population was far too low to judge how the servers will hold up, so I’ll come back to this once the full game launches.
In their revamped career mode, the G.O.A.T. mode creates an extremely enjoyable addition. You start off by fighting in the regional circuit, and after a few fights, you eventually become scouted by Dana White, who after a good performance, will offer you a UFC contract. From there you battle your way to the championship, earning different titles such as “prospect” and “contender” which leads to varying amounts of money earned per fight. You start the run up to each fight by signing up to a gym that trains in a specific fighting discipline. From there you can chose to upgrade attributes, spar with a trainer, or promote your upcoming fight. The added rivalry and promoting leads to an interesting dynamic which allows you to become a “gym rat” or promote your brand each fight, with different rewards for each. Overall the experience made me truly enjoy myself, and the mode alone makes this game worthwhile, and definitely worth the buy.
Ultimate team still remains a curious concept, with packs that don’t just contain fighters, but perks and moves, which eliminates the easy road to make your fighting dream team. However the mode still brings an exciting breath of fresh air, with many single and multiplayer modes to play.
My favorite part while playing was the new KO mode, which eliminates the ground game entirely. However, this mode is not yet available online, hopefully something EA changes in the future.
Overall I found UFC 3 much more enjoyable than its predecessor, and it is definitely worth the buy, even with an undesirable grappling system. Also, Snoop Dogg is in it.