I will smash your face into jelly.
Aside from Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva, and Forrest Griffin, I know nothing of UFC fighters. I’ve seen a decent amount of matches, mainly for the spectacle of the entire thing, but I have never really followed the sport in any real form. When I was asked to review UFC 2, I honestly didn’t mind. I’m a pretty big fighting game player in the traditional sense, plus I’ve always enjoyed the absolute brutality of the sport itself, so even though I’m not seasoned in the game series itself, I was willing to give it the “old college try.”
The one on one fighting has many mechanics that really break down into the “standing up game” and the “ground game”. While standing, players can throw a series of punches and kicks assigned to the face buttons. Depending on the direction of the left stick they hold, it will alter the strikes. Holding down the left bumper while attacking will alter the attacks more with different hits like a jumping knee attack or an uppercut. Holding down left trigger will have the fighter attack the body rather than the head. In the same vein, holding down right bumper and right trigger will block incoming attacks either high or low.
Platforms: XB1, PS4
Price I’d pay: $59.99
The entire match is governed by the stamina meter that will drain when attacking, attempting grapples, and submissions. When getting damaged, the stamina meter will lose some of its maximum charge, and knowing when to back off and break is very important to managing one’s stamina.
Grappling, and eventually the ground game, are all handled with the right analog stick. While standing up, players can attempt a grapple, either high or low depending on if they are holding the left trigger and moving the right stick towards the opponent. Grappling is then handled through a series a motion prompts that appear on the screen. Players can move the right stick to an appropriate part on the option wheel to try different holds that will hopefully allow the player to throw the opponent on the ground. Defending against these attacks work the same way. Being careful to watch the opponent as they try to bring the player down and matching what they do will stop the hold in certain ways. This comes into play even more during a submission attempt.
Players must attempt to drain their opponent’s stamina meter with right stick movements while the defender attempts to escape with multiple moves holding the right stick in certain directions. It’s a simple concept, but when actually attempting many of these it can become confusing not understanding what is going on at times. It is all really simple in concept, but rather complex in execution, especially in the heat of the fight.
The career mode allows players to take a UFC fighter through the ranks by first starting off on the reality show The Ultimate Fighter. Winning that series will move them into proper UFC fights, and eventually to the championship fight. In between fights, the player can choose to train up for the upcoming fight by doing what is essentially the tutorial again. Players are allowed three sessions of practice in different areas of their choosing. Working on the grapple game will increase stats accordingly, working on faster strikes will up the punch and kick speed. They all go together really well, and depending on how well the player does in these practice drills, their main stats and attributes will go up. I really liked this about the career mode. It keeps the player relearning the basics and reminds them of how the game actually works. Granted, I feel that some of these tutorial drills could have used a bit more handholding for first time players. The grappling and submission aspects can be rather daunting.
EA’s Ultimate Team is here as well. Here, players can create fighters to fight with online or versus the AI and earn coins to buy cards that will open up new moves or improve stats for those created fighters. It’s not like I was forming a dream team of sorts like in Madden, but more like I was using cards to improve the fighters I had. It was different and interesting, but I still stuck with the career mode more than the Ultimate Team mode.
The online allows fights between other players, both in friendly matches and a more competitive ranked match. There is even tournament play that can add a bit more to it. One interesting thing the online mode does is keep up with players’ rivalries. If I fought my friends, it would keep stats on all our fights and kept records for all of them. It’s a nice little touch.
Visuals and presentation is very impressive. The shadows, animations, and sound all work really well, and the visceral look of the attacks and reactions look pretty real in many aspects. Of course, there’s going to be times something doesn’t match up perfectly and it looks off, but for the most part, the facial animations and overall look is fantastic. The sound design and commentators add so much to the feel of the entire experience. Hearing Joe Rogan scream “OH!” after a hard hit is pretty great.
While I’m still not the biggest fan of the sport, UFC 2 is fun to play and see and allows players to try out different things while still having a decent time. The grapples and submissions are sometimes confusing to understand, but the fighting itself is fast, fun, and great to watch. Fans of UFC will get the atmosphere of a real UFC match, while fighting and sports game fans have enough here to have some good fun.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.