EA Sports UFC 2 Review (XONE)

EA Sports UFC 2 Adds A Ton of Features, But Needs More Training

EA Sports UFC 2 screen 1
EA Sports UFC 2 screen. EA

Buy EA Sports UFC 2 at Amazon.com

EA Sports and EA Canada are back for another swing at mixed martial arts with EA Sports UFC 2.  The result of the last two years of fan feedback on the first game and development is, somewhat disappointingly, pretty much the same game we got last time with a much more robust feature set.  That’s good, since the lack of content was an issue in the first EA UFC game, but not so good since the action in the octagon needed some work too and it didn’t really get it.

  EA Sports UFC 2 looks and sounds just like a real UFC event, and gives you lots to do, but when it comes to actually fighting the controls might still too complicated to really be “fun” for anyone but the most dedicated die-hard fans. 

Game Details

  • Publisher: EA Sports
  • Developer: EA Canada
  • ESRB Rating:   “T” For Teen
  • Genre: MMA Fighting
  • Pros:  Looks and sounds amazing; huge roster; lots of features; KO Mode; stand up game is awesome
  • Cons:  Strikes lack impact; complicated controls on the ground; fighters all move the same

Presentation

Just like last time, EA Sports UFC 2 absolutely nails the presentation of the sport and looks and sounds freaking amazing. . All of the real onscreen overlays and graphics and music you see and hear in a real UFC broadcast are all present and perfect.  Fighters (mostly) come out to the same entrance music they do in real life.  The ring announcer is perfect.

  The commentary from Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg is spot on.  In the octagon the game looks just like a real fight.  It is crazy how great the presentation is here. 

The fighters themselves all look absolutely fantastic as well and just like their real-life counterparts.  My only nitpick is that while they all look different, they all move exactly the same way and execute moves identically, which we all know isn’t very realistic.

  Of course, giving every fighter their signature style and unique movements would have been a huge undertaking, so you can understand why they didn’t do it.  Instead its like we have a game of robots wearing different skins all doing the same moves.

Features and Modes

Features-wise, EA Sports UFC 2 is packed with things to do.  There are 250+ fighters across all weight classes including both men and women, so your favorite current and former stars are almost certainly included along with fantasy additions like Mike Tyson, Bruce Lee, and former-pro wrestler-trying-to-be-a-fighter-but-we’re-not-really-convinced-yet Phil “CM Punk” Brooks.  Modes include a career mode where you start out on The Ultimate Fighter reality show and work you way up the card, a UFC version of EA’s Ultimate Team mode (where you open card packs for new moves and stronger abilities rather than star players), a full suite of online modes, and the brand new Knockout Mode.  Most of the modes are pretty straightforward and similar to what we’ve seen in the past, but I want to talk about Knockout Mode.  KO Mode is awesome.  It takes the best part of the whole game – the stand up striking – and makes it a race to land solid strikes to knock out your opponent.

  It is very, very fun. 

Gameplay

As far as the gameplay goes, EA Sports UFC 2 is an improvement in many ways over the first game, but still struggles with being way too complicated for its own good.  Everything you do requires multiple buttons to be pressed at the same time and it can be overwhelming.  The four face buttons control your limbs, and you can modify strikes with a shoulder button.  You’ll be throwing flying knees and spinning backfists surprisingly quickly.  A new stamina system means you can’t just flail away, though, and you have to actually fight smart.  The stand up game is just flat out awesome, though the strikes themselves kind of lack impact.  You’ll see power shots hit and your opponent’s head look like it should snap off, but they just keep on fighting, which is weird.  While it is easy enough to wrap your head around the controls while standing up, when you go to the ground and victory and defeat can literally be a few seconds away, the controls get even more complicated.

The controls on the ground are simplified somewhat over the previous game and just ask you to hold the right stick in a single direction for a few seconds rather than using quarter-circle movements like before, but they still need work.  You can’t just press random directions – you need to press the correct direction in any given situation to actually escape or advance your position - which means you basically need real MMA training to understand how to actually do anything.  The game tries to teach you all of this in training, but even when you think you have learned enough nothing seems to work right when you try to do it in a real fight.  I suppose this is a realistic representation of how real fighting goes – once you step into the ring and get punched its easy to panic and forget how to do stuff – but that doesn’t mean it is especially fun to play as a videogame.  This isn’t a specific problem to EA’s UFC games, though, as simulating the intricacies of real wrestling and jiu-jitsu are extremely hard to turn into simple straightforward controls for casual fans at home to replicate. 

I want to make it clear that I’m not saying it is impossibly complicated or unplayable or anything.  You do eventually learn how to play with enough practice, of course.  But because the clinch and ground game are so complex, it hurts UFC 2’s status as a pick up and play multiplayer game which is where it really should shine.  In the online modes, you’re likely playing with other players who know what they’re doing, but as a local couch multiplayer game UFC 2 can suffer.  Playing with friends usually turns into simple kickboxing matches where the other two aspects of the sport are forgotten in favor of the easier to execute striking and more satisfying knockouts.  It is still a ton of fun to play this way, but for two-thirds of the sport to be tossed aside so easily means EA needs to keep working at it.  They got it mostly right in EA Sports MMA by keeping it simple, so taking a look at that might be a good idea.  

It seems the late THQ's UFC Undisputed 3 is still the best MMA game.  See also UFC 2009 and UFC 2010.

Bottom Line

In the end, EA Sports UFC 2 is a heck of a lot like the company’s first UFC game.  The presentation gets an A+++, the striking is still awesome, but the clinch and ground game still need a lot of work in order to appeal to any but the most hardcore of fans.  There are improvements in the package too, naturally, mostly in the absolutely huge roster of real fighters to choose from and the wealth of modes to use them in.  The bottom line, though, is that if you liked the gameplay of the first game, you’ll like UFC 2 and will have a lot more to do this time around.  On the other hand, if you couldn’t wrap your head around the ground game before, EA Sports UFC 2 doesn’t really make it significantly easier on you and you can probably skip it.  If you’re still interested in giving it a shot, make sure to pack a lunch because you’ll be going to school and really need to study hard to learn to play it well.  

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

Buy EA Sports UFC 2 at Amazon.com

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