By Joshua Vanderwall, EscapistMagazine.com
If you grew up on the likes of Street Fighter and Tekken, then you’re probably accustomed to being able to pick up a controller, sight unseen, and still put up at least a bit of a fight against a more experienced player. Button mashing won’t win you any Street Fighter tournaments, but, unless you’re playing at a professional level, you’ll usually be able to get a few good hits in and not feel too bad about yourself at the end of the match.
That’s not so much the case in EA Sports UFC, where button mashing is punished by the game’s mechanics, and even more so by players that have even a semblance of an idea of what they’re doing. UFC is not a fighting game. It’s a rigorous technical exercise behind an entertaining façade of people beating the pants off each other.
UFC is gorgeous on Xbox One, and ostensibly so on PS4. The fighters look frighteningly realistic while they idle, and even during the action of matches it’s almost eerie how lifelike the characters are. Outside of some hilarious technical glitches during bouts, the physics keeps up with the action impeccably well, making for some almost painful viewing experiences as punches connect and drops of sweat and blood fall to the canvas from the injured fighter. The physics and graphics jive so well together, in fact, that you can almost feel the impact as you land a roundhouse to the temple, or absorb a superman punch.
Where the graphics and physics are generally superb, the controls leave something to be desired for less adroit players. The face buttons on the controller are punches and kicks, which is simple enough to grasp. That’s where the simplicity ends.