Tag Archive: Jon Jones

Tighter than a Kimura lock

Mixed martial arts has long been one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, spearheaded by the UFC’s founding just over two decades ago. Combatants hail from around the globe, and the sport often packs up its eight-sided cage and travels to international locations such as Brazil and England to accommodate its ever-expanding popularity. So, it only made sense that when THQ went bankrupt a couple of years ago, EA Sports would swoop in and grab the rights. While the games from the THQ days were decent and diehard fans of the sport who simply couldn’t get enough ground and pound were served well, no one could’ve imagined what EA Canada’s Fight Night team would do when they put a chokehold on the property.

EA Sports UFC changes everything we know about MMA games, and you’ll never be able to look at those other titles the same again. Sure, we’ve all heard how great the characters look—and, yes, they do look phenomenal. The real-time deformation and discoloration of fighters is impressive, but I expect that to a degree with new-gen hardware. What really blew me away here were the control schemes.

I’ve played all of those other UFC titles. Often, they’d devolve into slugfests with little to no ground game due to complex, unintuitive controls. While EA Sports UFC’s controls aren’t of the pick-up-and-play variety, the game does a much better job of teaching you how to balance your attack, from standing up to working in the clinch to finally putting your opponent on the ground.

The game begins with a mandatory tutorial,  then offers specific control challenges like “training” in career mode to earn extra points to level up your character. All this means that you’ll come to grasp the schemes far more effectively than ever before. By the time you work through the career mode once, you’ll be a master who’s more than ready to jump online.

You’ll also learn very quickly that if, like in those old games, you try to just stand and bang most of the time, you’ll end up knocked out on the canvas more often than not. The emphasis on the ground game is critical here, but with everything assigned to two simple motions modified by the specific button you press, the barrier for entry is far lower than it once was when it comes to the control scheme.

I went from not knowing how to apply a submission—never mind locking one in—to being a submissions specialist in EA Sports UFC, making 75 percent of my opponents tap over a 38-4 career. I won The Ultimate Fighter tournament to get my UFC contract, had two stints as the UFC Light Heavyweight champ, and I mastered a variety of locks: inverted triangles, armbars, Kimuras, and more. The game offers fewer satisfying feelings than knowing your opponent tapped out. Mind you, it’s much harder on a human opponent, but it’s not impossible—again only amping up that feeling of accomplishment.

My only issue with the career mode is that the training segments, while comprehensive, also became repetitive later on in your career. Some variety here could’ve really helped that section of the game keep its legs, but at least there’s an option to skip the training, which is especially nice once you max out your character near retirement.

I didn’t just grapple with AI-controlled opponents during my time with EA Sports UFC, though—I also took my skills online. While I never won fights online before in older UFC games, I was 3-2 here in an obviously limited stint, making one opponent tap and knocking the other two out (including one sick finish as Jon Jones with a Superman punch off the cage wall). And, yeah, I lost two matches, but they were really close: One went to a decision, and the other? I admit, I got my butt knocked out as B.J. Penn.

Not everything here is as flawless as Rondy Rousey’s 9-0 career start, however. In terms of technical shortcomings, the game has some framerate drops, both offline and online. It seemed to pop up most frequently with sudden camera shifts, like when starting the submission minigame. It’s not enough to ruin matches, but it’s enough to be noticeable and a bit bothersome at times.

I also feel like there could’ve been some improvement on the presentation side of things. While the real-time videos of Dana White, Mike Dolce, and a bevy of real-world fighters rooting me on and offering advice were nice, I was horribly disappointed by the lack of pomp and circumstance when I won a belt, made significant strides with my career, and finally was inducted into the hall of fame.

And speaking of looks, character customization could’ve been a bit deeper. To start with, the game offers fewer options than in THQ’s glory days in regards to the characters themselves. What’s more, when I unlocked new gear and sponsors, since there were no rewards associated with them besides making my character look more like an authentic UFC fighter walking to the Octagon instead of a bum off the street, there was no reason to even bother messing with them. Let “Bam Bam” Carsillo look like a hobo. I don’t care; I’ll still kick your butt. Actually, I wonder if I can make my next created fighter’s nickname be “The Bum.”

When my time with EA Sports UFC was done, despite the presence of a little lag and a few customization shortcomings, I really couldn’t get enough of the game. In terms of how everything plays out once you step foot in the Octagon, there’s never been a more accurate or enjoyable representation of the UFC brand. The controls are intuitive and easy to learn, and no MMA game has looked more realistic. Fighting fans and MMA fans alike will want to jump into this one.

Developer: EA Canada • Publisher: EA Sports • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 06.17.14
The best representation of the action that happens inside the Octagon yet. While it’s not simple, the control scheme is still easy enough to learn that it takes the experience to an entirely new level as you break your opponents down standing up, in the clinch, or on the mat. With outstanding next-gen visuals, EA Sports UFC is good enough to carry around a championship belt.
The Good A dynamic fighting system that makes it feel like you’re actually in the Octagon.
The Bad Training system could use some variety; some lag during matches.
The Ugly How sad I was after having to hang up “Bam Bam” Carsillo’s gloves.
EA Sports UFC is available on Xbox One and PS4. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by EA Sports for the benefit of this review.

Swedish MMA fighter Alexander Gustafsson will be paired with New York’s Jon Jones as co-cover athlete for EA Sports UFC, publisher EA Sports announced.

While it had already been set in stone that Jon “Bones” Jones would be one of the cover athletes for EA Sports UFC, to maintain what has become tradition for EA Sports games, a tournament was held for the fans to determine what fighter would join Jones on the cover.

After 11 million votes were cast over a four-week period, Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson emerged from a field of 16 candidates as the winner. Gustafsson beat out longtime UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre in the finals to claim the honor. This was due in large part to the huge amount of votes that came in from Gustafsson’s native Sweden and the rest of Europe.

What makes the cover fitting, though, is the history shared between Jones and Gustafsson. Jones narrowly beat Gustaffsson to retain his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship back in September at UFC 165, but the win did not come without controversy.

Gustaffsson cut Jones’ eye open in the first round of their bout and is the first man on record to take Jones down in the Octagon. Despite ringside doctors wanting to end the fight due to Jones’ cut, Jones implored them to let it continue. The fight went the full five rounds and narrowly, although unanimously, Jones edged out Gustafsson on the judges’ scorecards.

Experts believe the judges scored in favor of Jones because he landed a great deal more “significant strikes” over the course of the bout than Gustafsson. The title defense was Jones’ sixth, a record in the Light Heavyweight division of UFC. Many can see a rematch between the two happening sometime next year.

EA Sports UFC is due out spring 2014 for Xbox One and PS4.

One rear-naked chokehold I welcome

I need to preface everything I say here by pointing out that these hands-on impressions are based off a build meant more as a demonstration of the Ignite engine at work in EA Sports UFC than actual gameplay. What I saw had none of the bells and whistles the final product will feature—no life bars, no stamina meters, no character-select screen. It was as pre-alpha as it gets. What I played was but a brief introduction to the groundwork of a potentially revolutionary new fighter that’s due out in nine months.

Part of what makes a game like EA Sports UFC possible, according to creative director Brian Hayes, are the advances made via next-gen technology. The look and feel, after all, is a critical component to an authentic MMA videogame. The veins bulging out of the neck of a fighter trying to lock in an armbar. The subtle bruising that peppers bodies over the course of a fight. An eye swelling shut after a few too many blows to the head. The changes in face color as a fighter succumbs to a rear-naked chokehold. These are just a few examples of the minute details that developer EA Canada is smoothly pulling off with next-gen tech and their new engine.

In my brief hands-on time at Gamescom, I got a feel for how fighters moved around the octagon. There’s a weightiness there now, with each movement tying right into the next. The fighters didn’t float around their opponent. Instead, they confidently planted their feet and moved with precision with each push of the control stick. And though the ground, grapple, and submission maneuvers were disabled during the demo, the attacks I could pull off felt substantial: Each punch I threw felt like it had power behind it and did real damage. Superman punches off the cage, flying knees, and spinning heel kicks were all available to me, and each one made me feel like I was watching a close-up of a fighter during a legitimate UFC PPV.

Now, normally, I’ll take something so early in its iteration process with a grain of salt. Show a little skepticism. But, honestly, after what I saw, I can’t help but feel hopeful that this is the game UFC fans have been clamoring for over the past decade. If the care seen in the in-ring segments transfers to the gameplay options—ideally, create-a-fighter or career modes—then this is primed to be a surefire hit. If not, there’s still a solid foundation here for what could ultimately become one of EA Sports’ more popular franchises.

Stepping into the Octagon

It is one of the fastest growing sports around the world and as it has begun to move solely from Pay-Per-View and into the primetime realm of various cable and standard channels, its move into the mainstream is all but guaranteed. Of course, the UFC knows to really grow a relatively new sport in this day and age, they’d have to have at least a small foray as well into the number one entertainment industry in the world: video games. But unlike anything else the UFC had done, they fell into a pattern similar to other sports where they tried to release a game on a yearly basis and after only two attempts they realized that was not the way to go. So they took their time on working on this new title in the hopes of silencing their critics.

Well, I’m happy to say that in many ways the extra time in the gym has really paid off for UFC Undisputed 3. This third chapter in the UFC series sees a bevy of new additions that both hardcore and casual fans have been clamoring for. The first new feature you’ll see as you soon start playing the game is the chance to pick one of two controls schemes. The first, Advanced, controls are the ones that the series used in its first two iterations, where a series of half and three-quarter right joystick turns were required in your ground game. The second, Amateur, controls though is what will make this game much easier to just pick up and play, and maybe help in the education of those more casual fans.

The Amateur controls replace a lot of the right joystick movement that turned the other two games into a waggle-fest for less experienced players and instead a simple flick up or down allows you to perform the transitions necessary for you to lock in some devastating holds. And speaking of the devastating holds, a new submission system mini-game has been put in place to help fans understand if they are winning or losing with their hold and how close they are to tapping or making their opponent tap out.

Unfortunately, even with the new Amateur control system, for people who aren’t as familiar to the sport and are looking to learn more about it, you will still likely have a difficult time as there are so many button and hold combinations, you might be intimidated quickly and feel like you might be better off with a keyboard in front of you than a controller just so you can quick assign your favorites instead of trying to memorize some three-button finger contortion just to pull off a feint. There is a tutorial system, but it is long and boring and will turn you off to the game in the first place if you should choose to suffer through it and so you are left really only with the trial by fire option again.

If you can get past this factor though, there is a great reward for the hard work you’ll put in learning the controls. The career mode is deeper than ever before with better pacing as now you only have to train once or twice between each of your fights and you can better see just how each exercise will benefit you. From speed punching body bags to tire flipping to sparring in the octagon at the gym, there is a plethora of new games just waiting for you to try out in between fights as you try to take your personal fighter, who you create through one of THQ’s celebrated customization modes, from WFA scrub up to UFC superstar. And along the way when you have key moments, you’ll see some never before seen interviews with some of the UFC’s best and brightest talking about how they bounced back from their first loss, how great it felt when they won their first title, or how nervous they were their first time in the octagon.

If you’re not a career mode kind of guy though, don’t worry as the online versus modes have also been fleshed out. For the first time in the series, mirror matches are allowed as well fighting tournament rules that equalize combatants stats to truly see who is the best of the best. There are also all seven UFC weight-classes available now including Bantam and Featherweight fighters. But the most exciting part, especially for old-school MMA fans, may be the new Pride Mode where you can take some of your favorite fighters from today and take them over back in their prime when they fought in Japan or even have fantasy match-ups like pitting Rampage Jackson when he was in Pride against Jon “Bones” Jones. And included in this mode are Pride’s rules meaning face stomping and punting are now allowed. Talk about a game changer.

All in all, this is easily the best UFC title yet and the new additions definitely make it more pick up and play friendly than any other in the series, but that’s not really saying much. And much like an actual fighter in the UFC, you’re still going to have to work relatively hard at the controls if you’re ever going be a force online, but at least now you should stand a chance. Plus, with the additions to career mode, the game at least offers a decent enough single player experience that should online be too much for you, especially as Advanced control schemes trump Amateur ones in lock-ups, you’ll at least get your money’s worth as it will take a decent amount of time to turn your custom fighter into a hall of famer and you’ll have a good time doing it.

SUMMARY: A new control scheme and deeper career mode should lure fans back that were turned off by the last game for one more go in the octagon.

  • THE GOOD: New amateur control scheme helps pick up and playability
  • THE BAD: Even with new controls, hard to shake that button masher feeling
  • THE UGLY: My opponent’s face after dropping a dozen haymakers in a row on them

SCORE: 8.5

UFC Undisputed 3 is available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.

King of the Octagon

Up to this point we had seen the new Amateur control scheme and the Pride rules set for UFC Undisputed 3. But the elephant in the room had been “What about the career mode?” since we all knew that would comprise the bulk of the game. Well, the elephant is loose and I had a chance to go hands on and try to tackle the behemoth that this mode has become with all the changes that have been introduced to it.

The first thing you’ll notice when entering career mode are new live action movies that highlight everything you do. From first deciding to become an MMA fighter, to your first victory, to your first defeat, to your first championship, all the major moments of your career come with a short video revolving around a similar moment of either a UFC Hall of Famer or current superstar. Some of the footage has been repurposed from previously released UFC DVDs, but some stuff is completely original for the game.

We then entered into one of THQ’s staple character customization modes. Whether tweaking every fine detail of our fighter ourselves, or using a new “quick face” turn wheel with hundreds of pre-set faces laid out on it, the customization process has never been smoother. After choosing our weight class, we were then asked to select our MMA background. Whether we wanted to be a karate master, a Muay Thai monster, or an all-around MMA all-star, the choice was ours and different moves and move sets we would start with and could later learn would be affected by our choices here.

After deciding what path I would walk down, with UFC Play-by-Play man Mike Goldberg talking us through every moment, we learned about all the in-depth options we now had as we crafted our Ultimate Fighter. The first new feature was “Creds”. By participating in fights, and more so by winning them, we would earn Creds, which basically serve as currency in the game to unlock new gear and sponsor logos and better sparring partners and training equipment in order to increase the ceiling of where we could boost our stats to.

Then came the actual training. With 14 new mini-games, seven in the gym and seven in the octagon with a sparring partner, we could begin working on our stats. From tire lifting, working the heavy bag, and sprawl drills to working on our takedowns and clinches with our partners, the choice was ours in what areas to work on and when.

We were then shown six real world camps, including the legendary Greg Jackson’s American Top Team, where we could learn new maneuvers. From simple things like spinning back fists to more complex submissions, depending on where you study depends on whom you work with and what moves you can learn. After trying all the gyms, you’ll be locked into one and by training loyally at that gym you’ll unlock the right to learn even more involved moves.

Once learning some new moves, we were shown the game plan mode where instead of training, you could come up with a strategy against a particular opponent and if you succeed in the subsequent training, you’ll receive a huge boost to one statistic for one match. For example, if you choose the “Aggressive” game plan, you could end up with a +12 to your punches and kicks.

After all this, we finally got into the octagon and began our careers and played the game as normal. What is great though is that after you go through all the tutorial stuff of each activity you can do, you’re only allowed to do one or two of those listed activities above before your next fight. This still gives you the sense of control you’d want in personalizing your fighter, but it also keeps the action coming at a good pace so you don’t drown in mini-games trying to improve your submission defense stat or trying to learn a spinning back kick.

As you begin advancing up the ranks, that’s when things get the most fun as you start in the WFA and then you start getting a lot more choices about your fighter than the last game’s career mode. More opportunities to change weight classes along with the chance to go into the UFC or even Pride, which has been resurrected at least in this game, and earn their respective championship belts offers you the career management aspect many people have been looking for.

All in all, the Career Mode in UFC Undisputed 3 looks to have finally found that balance of fighting, character management, and customization that should allow players to feel like they are truly in the octagon themselves. This is shaping up to be a simulation worthy of making your wallet tap out and cough up some cash when it is released in February.

So what do you folks think? Are you pumped for the newest chapter in the UFC franchise? Are you excited about the new layout to career mode? Let us know with your comments below!