While visiting the EA Sports booth at the PlayStation Experience in Las Vegas on Dec. 6, I was putting the new legends added to the EA Sports UFC roster through their paces.
I picked Brock Lesnar to take on Antonio Silva. I had a good time outlasting the Brazilian with the Beast Incarnate. As I went through the match, it struck me just how much the game had changed since it released on June 17 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Suddenly it felt like the review I wrote for the game almost six months ago was outdated. At the time this article was written, the initial review had been read over 22,000 times. Realistically, I’d be surprised if this one is seen by 2,000 people.
However, as a man with a passion for sports gaming, I felt compelled to put this out there.
Reviewing Games in the Patch and Update Era
These days, reviewing sports video games—or any title with an online component—on release day is like telling someone what it’s like to date a girl after taking her out the first time.
There’s a chance you may have gathered enough information in that first date to give a valid account of the experience. However, chances are there’s still a lot left to learn before you can profess to know her that well.
Unfortunately, in the world of sports video game journalism, there’s a demand for a review the moment a game is available to consumers. Essentially, you need to be able to give a full breakdown of the girl you just met about two days ago.
With those dynamics, a responsible journalist has no choice but to evaluate some aspects conceptually, as opposed to proficient functionality. There simply is no way to accurately determine how a game’s servers will perform before the masses put it to the test.
Beyond that, game developers are now stretching the developmental cycles for games beyond the release date. Why? Because the access to patches and updates allow companies to effectively finish their work after they turn it over to the public.
Some fans hate this—I venture to say, most fans hate that, but it’s the reality.
As a reviewer, it creates another conundrum. Should a developer get the benefit of the doubt because we expect a patch or update to come along and fix small-to-major issues, or should we grade the game as it is?
I tend to go with the latter.
However, games like EA Sports UFC create yet another layer to the process. Rarely have we seen a game change as much as this one has post-release. In fact, Natural Motion’s Backbreaker is the only other game that I can remember to go through such a post-release metamorphosis.
With games changing based on gameplay enhancements and DLC, should there be a secondary review? I can’t say that’s the case across the board, but in the case of EA Sports UFC, a revisit is in order.
What Has Changed?
Graphics and Animation
Nothing has changed as it pertains to raw graphics. Then again, no improvements were needed in this area. The player models and arenas are still among the best on the current generation of systems.
Animations are a different story. These have been upgraded as new moves, counters and transitions have been added.
For example, catching an opponent’s kicks can be quickly turned into single-leg takedowns. These look very smooth, and some of the wonky animations that flawed the game when it was initially released have been cleaned up.
Overall, a solid-looking game at the very least just as good.
I raise the grade 0.25 points to a paltry 9.25.
Gameplay and Realism
Let’s face it, it’s hard to make a game like this totally realistic, The stamina system is still a bit different than real life, but I’ve always said, an ultra-realistic energy system would turn many fans off.
As it stands, button mashing will still tire your fighter out, but not quite to the degree that the process would occur in a real fight. The grappling game has been drastically improved by the addition of catching strikes and transitioning to the ground game.
The biggest issue is still the submission game. There are still too many parts. Completing a submission takes a near expert command of the system against a human opponent. That shouldn’t be the case, especially when playing with a fighter like Demian Maia.
The grade definitely goes up from 8.5 to 9 here.
Sound and Presentation
It might just be me, but there seems to be a few new lines of commentary added to the mix here. Most of the new dialog is associated with the new fighters that have been added.
While this is nice, the commentary still isn’t a strong suit for the game. It would be nice to see more stat references and overlays during the matches. That would add to the immersion and TV-style broadcast qualities.
Also, more presentation before matches—especially in career mode—would also be great.
There’s nothing new to see here. the grade stays at 6.75.
Game Modes and Options
Even with all the additions, this is still the weakest part of the game. There’s no pay-per-view mode; the career mode is very shallow and lacks personality.
The online servers have improved dramatically, but since that should’ve been the case from the outset, we can’t give any points for that. The GameFace option isn’t perfect for create-a-fighter, but it’s not horrible. More slots to expand your fighting universe would’ve been ideal.
Originally, I rated the game a 7.5 in this area. That’s where the evaluation will stay.
EA Sports UFC was a good game that got a little bit better. If this is the first in a long-standing series, it’s more than a solid foundation. Whenever EA Sports UFC 2 is released, adding a few elements to increase the depth and longevity would make it a crowing achievement.
The overall grade has been raised from an 8 to an 8.125.
Follow Brian Mazique aka FranchisePlay, the Sports Video Game Journalist
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Courtesy of :Bleacher Report – UFC