Home
OS Scores Explained EA Sports UFC 2 Overview (PS4)
Pros
Fights have a sense of dynamism; KO mode and title chase online are good additions; presentation is even better.
Cons
Career mode has received minimal attention; training for casuals still isn't ideal; lack of a real standout mode.
Bottom Line
Putting aside the familiar career mode, EA Sports UFC 2 is a worthy upgrade.
8
out of 10
EA Sports UFC 2 REVIEW

EA Sports UFC 2 Review (PS4)

When EA purchased the UFC game license a few years back, it almost seemed like more of a knee-jerk reaction rather than a tactical move. To be sure, EA likely realized that there was an opportunity to ride the upward trajectory of the Las Vegas–based fight promotion. Fight Night had started to flag in sales, and it was time to give something else a try, especially considering the success THQ had with the UFC products they released.

The first EA Sports UFC felt like a positive initial step, but I was aware when reviewing it that the game had a limited development cycle and budget when compared to the bread-winners at EA such as FIFA or Madden. Regardless, I felt the gameplay was relatively satisfying, with striking that provided for some varied wars, as well as a ground and clinch component that allowed for some interesting transitions and work along the cage. But that doesn't mean there weren't some drawbacks. Strike-spamming, stamina issues and a lack of modes were instantly noticeable, but some of those were offset by the game's rock-solid online play and steady stream of updated content and gameplay systems. Eventually, the patches refined the gameplay quite substantially, adding extra animations and "finish the fight" sequences, as well as a strike-chaining and combo system.

"...the content on offer in EA Sports UFC 2 is certainly a meaningful upgrade."

These title updates seem to have paved the way for EA Sports UFC 2, the follow-up that's releasing about 21 months after the first game. The extended development cycle (an eternity compared to other EA Sports games) has proved mostly successful, allowing for upgrades to the roster, presentation, gameplay, modes and overall experience in the menus. After a first year that seemed a bit lean on modes and extras, EA Sports UFC 2 gets most of those things right. I question whether EA has done enough to entice casuals to enter the Octagon, and the lack of a meaningful career offering remains a bugbear, but the content on offer in EA Sports UFC 2 is certainly a meaningful upgrade.

Gameplay

Count me as someone who enjoyed a lot of what the gameplay offered the first time around for EA Sports UFC. Was it perfect? No, but there was a core of entertaining gameplay, and all of the components of the game — striking, clinch, ground, submissions — had a reasonable flow between them. I was able to log hundred of hours of multiplayer matches and enjoy myself against varied and challenging competition. To be fair, the gameplay improved quite a bit through the aforementioned patches, but what was there at the start had entertainment within it.

Now, I'll be the first to say that the move selection was off for many fighters, and the ability of many high-level characters (Jones, GSP, Silva) to spam certain moves with minimal stamina penalty was maddening. A lot of this was addressed with the patches. These changes have carried over to EA Sports UFC 2 — and then some. Striking now has a much crisper flow, with improved animation work and the ability to chain strikes together. There's also full 360-degree head sway, giving you the opportunity to avoid strikes by bobbing and weaving to your heart's content. This is one of the "easy to use, hard to master" features that many high-level players will love.

"Striking now has a much crisper flow, with improved animation work and the ability to chain strikes together."

Defense now requires you to block high or low on separate buttons, which is a nice change for those who were frustrated by other players just holding the main block button to mitigate incoming strikes. The parry system works about as it did before, which isn't ideal, but it does still allow for some exciting counter opportunities. The ability to step and lunge in and out of danger remains viable, but it does still use up considerable stamina. The ideal method is to mix in occasional blocks and parries with strong footwork, as you really want to avoid staying in the pocket for long.

The big difference in the gameplay now comes from the clinch and ground game, where both users can simultaneously enter inputs, and visual descriptors explain what's going on. This is sort of a continuation of EA's philosophy from NHL 16, where the visual trainer attempted to help users understand a lot of the finer details of gameplay. For EA Sports UFC 2, the clinch and ground game have ditched the quarter- and half-circles of last year. You basically still advance or move in one of the four directions, but the visual indicator on the screen tells you what each direction does. And that is all you have to do — press in a direction. If you fill your meter first, you'll be successful in your guard pass. Denials of transitions still work with a direction flick while holding the right-trigger, but these can no longer be pre-loaded, meaning you'll be penalized for just holding a denial (the controller rumbles). Timing is pretty key here.

I'll be honest and say that this system initially caught me off guard (ha!), as I yearned for the circle inputs of the previous game. But once I started to put some time in with the system, I found the struggle of simultaneous inputs fairly compelling, as you can interrupt transitions with a strike, and you can modify for advanced techniques by holding the left bumper (if your fighter has them). It's definitely hard to posture up and land big strikes for long periods, but frankly, that's the case in real MMA. The shorter window to act has also been softened somewhat by an increase damage value from the beta of EA Sports UFC 2, where it was hard to really do much with ground and pound. Now two or three shots can do a lot. Overall, I've come to like the clinch and ground game in this second game, but there will still be some fighter and stamina match-ups that will make this area of the game frustrating for players who panic.

Not panicking remains paramount for the submission system as well, which feels familiar if you've played the first game. You can now enter submissions from a few new positions, and there are occasional opportunities to chain submissions (with a stick flick) into a deeper stage of a different submission. You're still trying to fill one side of the octagon minigame in order to escape, and the attacker is trying deny that direction — and advance to the next gate when the prompt arrives. Personally, I find the submissions tuned about right, as they can be a threat if stamina comes into play, but videogame MMA shouldn't have submissions happening all that often. They can still be pulled off, but it's rare to be caught if you know what you are doing.

"But once I started to put some time in with the system, I found the struggle of simultaneous inputs fairly compelling..."

Putting everything together, I've had some really fun wars, both offline and online. There are new knockout animations on display quite frequently, and you'll see fighters wobble, stumble or crumble from devastating wheel kicks, uppercuts and liver shots. Even leg-kick TKOs are now possible, but I have found some of the damage recovery for certain body parts to be a bit spotty. Even the "death rock" of last game has been mitigated somewhat, as you are able to try a right stick in a direction as you recover, possibly escaping to a sprawl so that the fight can continue. One fight I had as Rory MacDonald (against Robbie Lawler) online was one of the best I've ever had over the two games, with lots of drama and dynamism. Conversely, I was stunned by an opponent online who used Anderson Silva, as a flying knee sent me to the canvass within seconds. Crazy stuff.

My only moderate gripe is with the stamina system, which leads to moments where a fighter can back you down and throw eight punches, missing six of them. Sometimes a fighter will still have a stamina edge over you after doing this, and that can be a bit much. Sure, some fighters have under-the-hood traits that influence this, but it makes it hard when you feel you've avoided most of what they've thrown and yet still have to deal with more since they've got stamina to spare. This will probably be tuned via patch. To be clear: this isn't a problem the way it was in the first game, but I've noticed some moments in online matches that make me feel it should be tweaked.

But again, the combat lends itself to some entertaining exchanges and back-and-forth moments. The ability to jump on an opponent to try and finish the fight is now a constant fixture of the engine, and there are a variety of ways to put the hurt on an opponent. The struggles on the ground are actually a struggle, and I found the advantageous positions to be even more threatening than the strikes sometimes, which, in a way, they should be.

Presentation

The overall look and feel of EA Sports UFC 2 is fantastic, with increased detail in all of the fighters. The damage modelling is even more impressive than before, with swelling, cuts, bleeding and bruising that really sells the pain of the shots you're throwing and absorbing. Hair is noticeably better as well, with even short hair slightly moving when you're pounding on another fighter's dome. It's not just the fighters either, as the arenas themselves have improved lighting and crowd depth, and UFC production overlays and camera angles have been updated to their current real-life standard. Even title fights get spotlights in the arena to highlight the two combatants. The animations work is equally strong, with new moves and strikes flowing nicely in combination. There's a tiny bit of clipping and wonky animation now and again, but I really haven't seen much in the way of major jank.

The audio package is just fine as well, with corner banter, crowd noise and plenty of licensed and unlicensed music tracks. The menu music is definitely better this time around, and even the commentary from Rogan and Goldberg has a few new lines and bits of emotion. Again, they don't really break any new ground with the commentary, but it provides a nice stream of consciousness and background noise for some of the fights.

Career Mode / Ultimate Team

It's unfortunate that most players will probably start with the career mode, as that mode has seen very little change from the previous version in EA Sports UFC. This doesn't mean it's bad, per se, but it's just sort of a standard offering, as far as career modes go. I will say that the menus are a lot more streamlined, and I found the training sequences (which are derived from the same activities as before) to be relatively quick and painless. You can now play with female fighters, which is cool, and the evolution points you unlock can be put towards your moves or your perks. The perks are all available at the outset, and it's up to you to "level up" these perks with the evolution points. So something like "razor elbows" starts at a lower tier when you first unlock it, but you can put the points in it to make it better. Or you can spend your points on new moves. Getting in and out of menus is quicker this year, too, which helps keep the mode relatively breezy.

"The adaptive AI setting probably makes sense for most people, as you'll crush your way up the rankings at first but then get slowed by actual UFC veterans near the end."

The career starts with you going through the Ultimate Fighter tournament, as before, and you end up working your way through the UFC ranks. Creating your fighter is pretty easy, and the customization allows for some level of agency on your fighter's traits and overall look. UFC fighters can also be imported into this mode, which is a nice touch. Events happen in the form of text screens, a la NHL 16, where you're told that you watched too much TV and can't train or you gained fans from saying something funny at the presser. None of this is particularly engaging, and it does cry out for more development time in the future. You can also accept short-notice fights, which gains you a bump in fans and a jump in the rankings. The adaptive AI setting probably makes sense for most people, as you'll crush your way up the rankings at first but then get slowed by actual UFC veterans near the end. Again, nothing in the mode is particularly problematic, but the whole thing does feel a bit listless.

Ultimate Team is available is now part of the game too, and if you've played it anywhere else in EA's portfolio, you'll feel at home here. You pick a stable of up to five fighters, and you send them up against other Ultimate Team players, either in online fights or in single-player matches (against their AI ghosts). Even when you're not online, your AI fighters will earn you coins, and you can use said coins to unlock move upgrades and temporary boosts to help out your fighter(s). The presentation and features of the mode feel in sync with what EA has offered in its other sports products, and I suspect this will remain a focus of the series going forward. Either you like Ultimate Team or don't engage with it, and this version in EA Sports UFC 2 won't change that dynamic.

Online

The online suite of EA Sports UFC 2 remains strong, with basic quick fights, rivalries against friends, and the division/championship mode. Ultimate Team is primarily played online too, obviously. The main difference for the division/championship is that you aren't playing in the "seasons" concept, and wins are just worth a certain number of points, depending on what fighter you used and how the match played out. It's a smart way to get people to not focus on wins and losses, as you ultimately want to acquire points to get promoted to the next division. Another neat wrinkle is that there is a rotating stable of fighters that are each worth bonus points if you use them. You only have so many hours to "claim" them. I found it to be a clever way to get people to pick some of the non-elite fighters, but I think EA will need to tweak how many points you get for picking them to encourage that behaviour even more.

The title chase aspect of championship mode is also cool, where you have something of an independent goal of stringing together a few "prospect" wins in order to get a contender fight. If you can manage to then win your contender fight and the title, it then becomes a game of defending that title. You want to keep climbing divisions and defending titles, and it's a nice touch that they even have the proper presentation and drama for title fights (no matter who your opponent is).

All of this wouldn't matter if the online didn't play well, but from my experience, it's still incredibly smooth. There's the very occasional match that has a touch of lag or some hitching, but as before, it's likely when you're being matched up with someone quite far away. Overall, the game plays great online. Also, the matchmaking and menus are much faster than before, resulting in quicker entries into a match and exits out of one.


Other Modes

The Knockout Mode is kind of the wacky addition this year, and the basic conceit is that you put a couple of fighters in the ring and let them slug it out — no takedowns, no time limit. Each character is given a few health cubes, and one hard shot from another player will take one away. It basically becomes a game of who can land the first few good shots, and then the other player has to play carefully to avoid the kill shot. This mode nicely showcases the KO animations that have been added this year, and some of these do look particularly devastating. It's s a simple idea that's designed with couch co-op in mind, and I had a lot of fun with it. The only flaw is that you can't play it online, which seems like a puzzling oversight.

The practice and skills-training modes remain relatively untouched from before. You can still spar with a CPU opponent, which gives you an opportunity to work on various scenarios. The CPU behaviour can be altered to make it more aggressive or passive, or you can have it just sit there and absorb damage. The various skills-training scenarios work as they did before, allowing you a chance to work on your strike timing, clinch defence, submission offense and so on. This is an area where the developers still need to find a way to better explain what's going on to casuals, but the new ground HUD does communicate some of these concept a bit more, so it's a start.

There's also an event creator this year, which allows you to select the venue, matches, referees and fight order for your very own card. It's fairly limited when compared to something like WWE 2K16, but it's a functional way to create some CPU vs. CPU action. In addition, the "Live Events" mode will allow you to make picks for upcoming UFC events, and successful picks will result in coins for your Ultimate Team profile. You can see who the community is currently voting for, and you can even try and get bonus point by playing each match and trying to replicate your result. Pretty cool.

 
Final Thoughts

While I would hope for future games to explore more context for casual users and provide a better career option, I can't say I'm displeased with how the time was spent for this follow-up. I'm a fan of what they've done to the overall feel of the strikes as well as the ground game. The title chase and revised division concept gives people a new way to compete online, and Ultimate Team is there for those who want to scratch that itch. I actually had fun with Knockout Mode, and the presentation is pushed even further than before. There's a lot to like in EA Sports UFC 2, and existing fans should be pleased. Casual players might have a bit of a time getting into it all, but the new modes and visual training at least give them something to grapple with.

Score: 8 (Great)


EA Sports UFC 2 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 SeaTownGamer @ 03/16/16 12:48 PM
This game needs a universe mode like WWE or I'll never buy it.
 
# 2 DBMcGee3 @ 03/16/16 02:14 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaTownGamer
This game needs a universe mode like WWE or I'll never buy it.
Hopefully something much better than the WWE Universe mode though. SO many things lacking in that mode.
 
# 3 JKSportsGamer1984 @ 03/16/16 04:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaTownGamer
This game needs a universe mode like WWE or I'll never buy it.
This game needs gameplay sliders or I'll never buy it.
 
# 4 Altohombre @ 03/16/16 04:19 PM
I don't have the game, but have watched several career play throughs online and it seems very unrealistic even on Adaptive AI. The majority of real UFC fights are back and forth with pushing against the cage, takedowns, and ground games. It seems like the majority of UFC 2 fights even up to fights in the top 10 are all knockouts in the first round where you can just spam head kicks and punches over and over. Wish AI fighters would chance the pace and attempt takedowns when they are being rocked.
 
# 5 RLebron12 @ 03/16/16 04:45 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Altohombre
I don't have the game, but have watched several career play throughs online and it seems very unrealistic even on Adaptive AI. The majority of real UFC fights are back and forth with pushing against the cage, takedowns, and ground games. It seems like the majority of UFC 2 fights even up to fights in the top 10 are all knockouts in the first round where you can just spam head kicks and punches over and over. Wish AI fighters would chance the pace and attempt takedowns when they are being rocked.

I have only got to play a couple matches so far but from what I've played it's been a lot harder to just KO someone quickly. Shoot my first match as Rory against Lawler it went all 5 rounds and I lost in decision....that NEVER happened in the past UFC games. But I also don't try to just spam the CPU cause sometimes they'll knock you out, or you'll just lose a lot of stamina so I try to play somewhat realistically.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
# 6 extremeskins04 @ 03/16/16 06:02 PM
This game needs some actual care and time put into it or I'll never buy it. It's absolutely unacceptable that the career mode was practically left an unchanged mess that it is.

Sports game developers need to take a look at NBA 2k and MLB The Show and maybe learn from those guys?
 
# 7 McG @ 03/16/16 06:23 PM
This game would have been a day one purchase for me, but to me Career Mode is more or less the same as it was almost 2 years ago when it first came out on this gen with just a few changes here and there. The lack of options for the create a fighter for hair and facial hair, while this may not be a huge problem for some, is huge to me. It's mainly based on the fact that the computer also uses these options when making their characters. How many times do I need to see someone with the facial hair or hair as me? I mean seriously, how hard is it to make more than a few facial hair options? It has to be easier than making a whole new mode (UT) or adding tons of tattoos. The sad part is, the haircuts and the facial hair are directly taken from current UFC fighters, so you basically have to look like someone in the UFC when you are creating you fighter. Like I said, this may be nothing to most people, but to me it kills immersion and makes any mode (career/UT) feel shallow and forced, apposed to realistic and in-depth. I may be the minority, but when I play a career mode I want the character to look as much as I do in real life as I can and UFC just doesn't allow that to become even close to reality.

I may just be speculating but I think the lack of career mode options/depth is a direct side effect of having UT in UFC 2. Much like FIFA and Madden, EA has decided to dumb down career mode in favor of UT. Honestly, at this point I just wish UT was an add-on that you could purchase for like $20 or vis versa and career mode was an add-on that you had to pay for. Either way, all I want (as I'm sure others do) an immersive career mode experience that doesn't feel like an "arcadish", pay to win mode, like UT. Really, all you have to do is look at what MLB The Show has been doing for years with their Road to the Show/Franchise mode. They have those modes and they are on the same level of quality and depth as Diamond Dynasty (their UT mode). Together it's the best of both worlds. Both modes are very well done and both allow deep immersion from either spectrum. If you want a career mode experience, then you have the deepest and most well made mode in the sports gaming industry (NBA 2K is right there as well). Also, if you want an UT experience, then Diamond Dynasty is where it's at. In comparison to EA's UT, it's just as good as their mode (if not better), all without sacrificing the career mode in the process.

*My thoughts on the game overall*

The game is fun, but it's not what I wanted it to be and personally I can wait. I am a huge MMA/UFC fan, but I will probably wait until it's discounted or at the earliest I'll wait until there is the typical down time in gaming (usually during the summer months late May-mid August). As of right now I have too many games to play and even more coming up in the next few weeks/months (MLB 16 The Show, Uncharted 4, Quantum Break, Fallout DLC and I'm sure I'm missing something). I really wanted this to be a must buy, but unless you must have this and have nothing else to play, then pass until it's discounted or you have nothing else to play. If you do own it, then more power to you and I really hope you enjoy the game, but personally my EA Access 10 hour preview was enough for now. With that said, I do look forward to picking it up later in the year, but for now I can wait it out.

Great review from OS and Glenn like always. You guys do a great job overall and I enjoy your work.
 
# 8 MAGboyswifT27 @ 03/16/16 07:29 PM
Great review Glenn. I'm happy with the game and look forward to the patches as well as more time spent with the game.
 
# 9 Review @ 03/16/16 07:34 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Altohombre
I don't have the game, but have watched several career play throughs online and it seems very unrealistic even on Adaptive AI. The majority of real UFC fights are back and forth with pushing against the cage, takedowns, and ground games. It seems like the majority of UFC 2 fights even up to fights in the top 10 are all knockouts in the first round where you can just spam head kicks and punches over and over. Wish AI fighters would chance the pace and attempt takedowns when they are being rocked.

Agree. I've also watched a lot of videos and the game is still too punch and kick heavy. That said, I'm a big MMA fan so I'll prob pick up the game late in the year if it's on sale for $20.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
# 10 brezzab @ 03/16/16 10:45 PM
I played the EA access and just picked up the game today in Aus - never played the original UFC though.

I feel a bit sorry for those guys who play offline - the career mode doesn't look great, but it is cool that you can go through and customise your fighters style and individual moves fairly easily. This is a great way to equip certain moves and see how they interact in an offline mode.

Online, however, is where the game shines. It's a tense battle between two evenly-matched (hopefully - this will even out when people reach their realistic online divisions) fighters and quickly turns into a game of cat and mouse. One of the fights today I had was a pretty epic R4 KO where I had got rocked in the first round and nearly got KO'd myself, and made the adjustments to how he was throwing 4 punch combos (2 body then 2 head) by blocking then dodging then counter-punching. He again adjusted in R3 and started getting super aggressive, which I countered with hard body kicks, which HE then countered by attempting takedowns. I feel it's an awesome game online, but a bit of a shame about the offline. It would be cool to have an online "event mode" where you could create your own UFC 201 and then fight online opponents based on the card you made.
 
# 11 CujoMatty @ 03/16/16 10:53 PM
The game is good. I would think a good single player experience is a must for the game to excel but maybe online or ultimate team are more important. I say this because the career mode is honestly underwhelming. I've almost got to the end of my career and that means probably the end of the game for me mostly.

The review also surprisingly didn't mention the training in career mode. Its bad in almost every way. You can sim your best grade which leaves little desire to redo any training. That is actually a good thing(which it shouldn't be) because the training is either boring or ridiculous. If I'm training defense I shouldn't have to chase my training partner around the ring to get him to attack me so I can train, you know, defense.
 
# 12 kongemeier @ 03/17/16 05:40 AM
I also tried the early access and liked the game in general. I won't buy the full version though because of minimal additions to offline career mode. Hopefully it will get more attention next time.
 
# 13 SeaTownGamer @ 03/17/16 09:35 AM
Imagine if the career mode was like myplayer in nba 2k and you play offline to get badges and boost up your attributes and whenever u are ready to go online u take your my boxer u created online. That would be a game changer to go along with universe mode.
 
# 14 aholbert32 @ 03/17/16 09:47 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by extremeskins04
This game needs some actual care and time put into it or I'll never buy it. It's absolutely unacceptable that the career mode was practically left an unchanged mess that it is.

Sports game developers need to take a look at NBA 2k and MLB The Show and maybe learn from those guys?
To be fair, MLB the Show is in its 10th year and NBA 2k is in its 16th. Its easy to have a fleshed out and deep career/franchise mode when a game has 10 or 16 versions before it. This is only the 2nd version of the game.
 
# 15 bigdipper88 @ 03/17/16 01:35 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by aholbert32
To be fair, MLB the Show is in its 10th year and NBA 2k is in its 16th. Its easy to have a fleshed out and deep career/franchise mode when a game has 10 or 16 versions before it. This is only the 2nd version of the game.
The Show has been around way longer than that, close to 20 yrs or at it. It was just MLB 02, 03, etc. and 989 studios did it until merged. Just added "The Show" after the name in 2006
 
# 16 SeaTownGamer @ 03/17/16 05:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by aholbert32
To be fair, MLB the Show is in its 10th year and NBA 2k is in its 16th. Its easy to have a fleshed out and deep career/franchise mode when a game has 10 or 16 versions before it. This is only the 2nd version of the game.
MLB the show been in the game longer than 2K. They just added the show after MLB in the 2000s
 
# 17 Randuken_ @ 03/18/16 01:07 AM
Hmm I just may pick this up for the PS4 ... but still not sure
 
# 18 Dos_Santos @ 03/18/16 11:29 AM
Don't agree with review but glad some are getting enjoyment out of it.
 
# 19 Dazraz @ 03/19/16 01:40 PM
Event Mode is a nice feature. It's no Universe Mode & more could have been done with it but it's a good start. Well done for EA for trying to make the game more accessible. The nature of UFC makes designing a game around its complexities a real challenge but this does a descent job of it.
I'd like to see more variety in presentation. Big fights should feel big & undercard fights should conversely have less build up (i.e. No Bruce Buffer).
 
# 20 Quentin32 @ 03/19/16 09:47 PM
1. Stamina still sucks
2. Punch Sponges
3. Flawed submission system
4. Bland presentation
5. Fighters are still too similar
6. Terrible career mode
7. Still can't really pounce with regularity when a fighter is hurt

I'm so glad I read reviews and not just look at scores. Because no way is this a 8 on OS review scale
 

« Previous12Next »

Post A Comment
Only OS members can post comments
Please login or register to post a comment.