Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) games are a tricky monster to tame, many have tried in the past to emulate the sport and many have failed, some have come close and those that have come closest are EA Sports’ UFC and UFC 2.
Chances are, over the last few months, whether it be on your social-media feeds or in your circle of friends or even amongst your family, you’ve probably heard at least one mention of the names Conor McGregor and/or Ronda Rousey.
These two (above) are, quite possibly, the most famous people in the world in the professional fighting scene. They have both fought their way to the top of their respective weight-classes in UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and have also both recently suffered shock losses.
Fans of UFC would claim that it is this unpredictability that draws them in and keeps them there.
And unpredictable is the best way to describe UFC 2.
You can dominate your opponent for four rounds with skillful striking, dastardly dodging and a great ground-game and then get knocked out clean with one ludicrously lucky kick despite very little prior offence out of the other corner. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially when I used the exact kick myself, and landed it, well, a couple of times throughout the match and my opponent barely stumbled.
Some people will absolutely get a kick (sorry) out of this. Citing that old familiar phrase that no two fights are ever the same, I however found it difficult to get behind this particular piece of game design.
I say that because exactly the same situation can happen in the opposite direction.
I was, for lack of a better term, having the shit kicked out of me, I avoided being taken to the ground but I had little opportunity for offence. A hard roundhouse kick to the face, I was staggered, my digital self stumbling backward. My opponent charged in for the knockout blow, I reacted, by pressing every button possible, in no particular order, very quickly. I let off a jab, it connects, square on the nose, the sweaty warrior crumpled into a pile on the ground in front of me, the fight was over. I won.
I literally said the words “How the fuck did that happen?”.
It wasn’t a victory that filled me with joy that I kept my championship, it actually left me with a pretty sour taste in my mouth. It didn’t FEEL right. It didn’t feel special. The commentators did their best Joey Styles “OH MY GOD!” Impersonation, but they do that at the end of literally, every, fight, regardless of how incredible or just plain embarrassing it was.
And with that ends the negative stuff I have to say about UFC 2, a handful of matches amongst the hundreds that ended in a very strange way and a couple of over-excited commentators that have drunk too much Monster energy drink.
I can honestly say that pretty much everything else in this game is spot on.
Visually, the game is pretty great, the fighter models offer a brilliant amount of detail which brings them to life quite well, broken noses, scars and tattoos are all present and accounted for, even former professional wrestler CM Punk has his ink accurately depicted and he hasn’t even had a fight in UFC yet!
During fights you don’t really see much other than the in-octagon action but during the fighter entrances is probably where the personality of the game most closely emulates that of the events themselves. The lighting, the crowd-noise, the music and animation all comes together in a splendid way, having Bruce Buffer on hand to deliver his patented “IIIIIIIIT’S TIME!” is a pleasing inclusion too. This is a game made for the fans, and it shows.
Fans of both UFC and videogames will enjoy this game, much like fans of both soccer and videogames buy and enjoy FIFA every year. The difference here is that fans of fighting games or those that need to work out some anger issues can also get a lot of enjoyment out of UFC 2. It’s a big improvement over its predecessor from a couple of years ago.
Easy to learn, difficult to master, this game is without a doubt one of the best games based on professional fighting, pre-existing fans are clearly who’s being served most here, but maybe, just maybe it’ll make a fan out of you.