If you’ve been following Operation Sports’ coverage of EA Sports UFC 3, then you know what to expect from the visuals, the gameplay and the career mode. Now we’re back again for the final verdict on UFC 3. I’ll go over what I like, what I don’t like, and finally if you should buy the game.
What I Like
- Striking – It’s crisp, it’s wild, and it just feels right. The fighters all finally feel like an accurate representation of what their striking style is actually like in real life. From the combo system to the move variety to the revamped fighter movement, this is by far the best striking that the UFC series has had. Add in the Real Player Motion Technology and this is the best representation of striking to EVER grace an EA combat sports game.
- Career Mode – With added depth and immersion while also trimming some of the grind away, the career mode in UFC 3 is an engaging and promising first step towards something that will be truly special in future games. There is a lack of player agency in certain aspects, but the foundation is there, and compared to its predecessors the career mode in UFC 3 is fun. Add into it that you can finally have a meaningful career as a female fighter and it also broadens the appeal to all those fans of the talented women of the UFC.
- Visuals – The game looks really good. The lighting is on point, there have been changes to the skin of the fighters, the arenas look great, and Bruce Buffer’s lip sync is spot on. Getting hit with multiple body kicks will leave your side welted and well placed elbows will get the blood flowing. All of the UFC fighters represented look great in-game as well. Minor animation issues and the age-old problem of title belts floating around a fighter are still present, but overall UFC 3 has some of the best visuals in all of sports games.
- Knockout Mode – This may be polarizing for some but I absolutely love the addition of Snoop Dogg as a guest commentator for the knockout mode. More than once I laughed out loud at some of his quips, and was even caught off guard that they let him curse at certain points. It breaks from the commentary of the main game (in a good way) and it’s evident that Snoop enjoyed recording his lines. Underneath all of that is an improved upon knockout mode from its predecessor and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite modes.
- Online Play – Like many EA Sports games, the netcode in UFC 3 is pretty good. Far more often than not my connection to my opponent was solid and there was minimal to no lag. Multiple online modes help keep the action fresh despite an Ultimate Team mode in an individual sport not making much sense, and having fun party-style modes like Knockout and Stand and Bang missing from online play. Ranked Championships see a slightly higher rate of rage quits than other online modes, but quitters are present in any online community and are few and far between in my experience.
- Fighter Roster – The roster in EA Sports UFC 3 is vast. Much of the roster is represented, and if past games are any indication more will be on the way over the course of the game’s life cycle. The new women’s featherweight and flyweight divisions weren’t established enough for this game’s development timetable but it’s forgivable considering there are 234 different fighters represented in UFC 3. Now EA, about getting my favorite fighter Andre “Touchy” Fili in the game…
Things I Don’t Like
- Grappling – Compared to the frenetic pace and fluid action that takes place standing up, the grappling and submission systems just feel sluggish. It’s odd to me that EA decided to leave 2/3 of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts largely untouched. Also a mystery is why initiating a submission from the clinch is three steps while an armbar from a dominant position is five steps. This is something that really needs to be addressed in future titles. The stamina change for blocked transitions is nice but adding a button mashing input for submissions just doesn’t make much sense. Overall, the ground game takes away from such an outstanding striking system and needs to be overhauled before the gameplay will truly be a championship contender.
- Commentary – No offense to my man Joe Rogan, but his lines repeat far more often than they should. I know that EA couldn’t get him to record new lines and they had to snipe his actual commentary, but he’s been with the UFC since 1997 so to have his commentary get so redundant, especially in Career mode is unacceptable. Jon Anik is an improvement upon Mike Goldberg in that he doesn’t yell so much, but his audio sounds tinny and wasn’t mixed well with Rogan’s. In an era where presentation matters more than ever in sports games, this has to be considered a disappointment.
- Creation Suite – Beat for beat, the fighter creator in UFC 3 is identical to EA Sports UFC 2. It’s disappointing that in a game where more emphasis has been placed on becoming the G.O.A.T. in Career mode than ever before, the creation suite offers nothing new at all. Gameface remains an antiquated system for getting my face into the game. The groundwork is there at EA for a companion app like NBA Live 18 has. With the age of the smartphone and rise of game apps that do a great job of capturing your likeness from a phone camera, using an old interface on EA’s website just doesn’t cut it anymore.
While not a perfect game, EA Sports UFC 3 is a good game, and a fun and accurate representation of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Striking is a blast and the career mode gives players a way to step into the Octagon and try to become like their favorite UFC fighters. There are multiple modes that give the game serious replayability. EA also has a great track record of adding fighters over the course of the game’s life, so with a staggering 234 fighters there is something for everyone here. This is hands down the best video game simulation of the UFC that I have ever seen, and if you’re a fan of the sport or of combat sports in general, I highly recommend giving EA Sports UFC 3 a shot. Buy this one, especially if you are a fan of the UFC.