As with any EA game, there’s a plethora of ways to beat people up online, from Ultimate Team, ranked divisions to the traditional quick match. Even on a Friday mid-afternoon there were a good 9,000 players or so online on Xbox, which made matchmaking quick and easy. What was less good was the online performance, which was the most spotty of any EA game I’ve played recently.
Some fights were perfect, but several suffered from clear lag, which was resolved through unsightly stuttering and freezes in the gameplay whilst the net code caught up.
I’d never even heard of UFC when THQ announced the first game back in the PS2 era, and I remember being absolutely blown away by the graphical fidelity (although I’m sure it’s dated poorly in the 15 years or so since!), and it seems that every title since in the series has felt the need to push the boat out.
EA UFC 3 is no exception, with some absolutely beautiful character models and motion-captured animations. It’s not quite close enough to mistake for the real thing, but it’s particularly impressive how the character models suffer bruising, swelling and cuts over time. When you see the sweat fly after a big blow, or watch a character recoil in genuine surprise, you realise just how much effort has gone into the simulation aspects when compared to say a Tekken or a Street Fighter.
As with any EA game, the periphery gets just as much attention as the core, with great broadcast quality intros, TV spots and replays, all accompanies by some excellent, professional commentary. Intros and menus are also covered by the expected EA Trax with all the licensed music you could want to punch people in the face to.
Some things just never change, and the UFC games seem destined to fit into this category. If they ever play as well as they look, then other simulation fighting games would be rendered completely superfluous. However, until EA nail the grappling, add in a decent tutorial and make Ultimate Team as compelling as their other sport franchises, UFC will be destined to sit in the ‘nearly there category.’ It’s certainly a good way to show off your console, but when the gameplay frustrates as much as it delights, there’s certainly room for improvement when the seemingly inevitable UFC 4 rolls around in a couple of years.
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