Tag Archive: ufc


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
9.0
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.

A New Challenger Approaches!

The MMA market is one of the fastest growing sports demographics out there. And part of this has to do with the strong showing by some brands in the digital realm. More often than not though, these MMA games are difficult for newcomers to pick up and play and even more difficult to master. But there may be a new contender stepping into the cage to finally appeal to those casual fans out there that are looking to just jump in and dish out a good ol’ fashioned beat down.

Bellator MMA Onslaught is the partnership between Bellator Fighting Championships, who just kicked off their sixth season this past weekend on MTV2, MTV Tres, Epix, and Spike.com, and fellow Viacom property, 345 Games. Looking to try to be a bit less of a simulation like UFC and more of an old-school arcade fighter, Bellator MMA Onslaught looks to differentiate itself from its competition primarily via its arcade-like controls and RPG style fighter leveling up system. This, and the fact that unlike UFC where the fights are picked by management, Bellator lends itself more naturally to the fighting game genre with its eight-man tournament style set-up to determine champions and number one contenders. I had a chance to jump into Bellator’s cage and see first hand just how this game looks to merge modern MMA and the classic fighting game.

The first thing I picked up on was the quicker pace of the matches. This gave a better sense that a fight could end literally at any moment as even when my opponent or myself decided to try to slow things down, there was a tension there that you only feel in the tightest of fighting games. This also allowed us to get more matches in during a shorter amount of time to really determine some bragging rights. One fight isn’t enough. Winning three out of four on the other hand is something to write about.

The next thing I noticed is something that most players complain about still with other MMA franchises and that is the way Bellator controls, especially in terms of player feedback. The punches and kicks were crisp and three, four, and even five hit combos could be strung together if you were fast enough with your inputs, allowing you to turn the tide should you have left yourself open one too many times. But the biggest concern with MMA games typically is the ground game. Much like UFC’s amateur controls though, a simple flick of the right joystick allowed my players to perform some fluid takedowns and easily transition when on the ground. But more so than in UFC, I felt like that it was actually doing something. Again, faster model movement here was a factor in this where it seemed that every flick I made gave me a more clear and instant response, even when being countered by my opponent.

And since we’re down there, let’s stay on the ground. The submission system was likely the best I’ve seen yet in terms of conveying a fighting game, as it was a classic button masher mechanic instead of a confusing mini-game. By mashing the four face buttons to fill up your tap out bar first, you’d either make your opponent tap or you would escape their hold. Again, clear feedback on what I needed to do and how my button inputs were affecting my fighter. And obviously the fighter’s submission ratings, which you can level up when you create a fighter, affects the ease or difficulty it is to fill up that bar.

The presentation was also something that gave the game a fighter’s feel as the HUD featured your classic health and stamina bars. It also featured a balance bar that showed how close a punch or kick was to knocking you off your feet or if you throw a haymaker and miss, how out of position you are. That one was still a work in progress I was told, but the mechanic definitely came across as I started to wobble a few times after failing to block a three-hit combo.

My only real concern is the fact that the game is only shipping with eight fighters at launch and you typically want a larger roster for any fighting game. Of course, with online and offline tournaments, the create-a-fighter mode should supplement this in many ways as I’m sure most people would rather play as themselves if afforded the opportunity.

All in all, although still touted as an early build, I was very impressed with Bellator MMA Onslaught, especially considering this is going to be a PSN and XBLA title. I’d still like a more in-depth look at the create-a-fighter and leveling up system before I comment on them, but promises of being able to customize everything about your fighter, even crossing up several different martial arts when creating your repertoire of moves, has me salivating at the idea of creating a hodgepodge fighter that no one will be able to predict when this game drops in Summer 2012.

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!

Back in September we went hands-on with an early build of UFC Undisputed 3 and detailed the new control schemes and new weight classes you could use. We recently were able to go hands-on with a more complete build and while the controls still amazed us with the ease we were able to pick them up and play, and many of the fighters seem to be better balanced than before, we were more focused this time around in taking a step back into the MMA past.

For 10 years Pride Fighting Championships hosted some of the best MMA fighters in the world and saw the rise of superstars like Rampage Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, and Mirko Cro Cop. Taking place in Japan, the men who competed in Pride were the ones who helped put MMA on the map as when they launched in 1997 they immediately began an AFL-NFL type of rivalry with UFC that propelled both organizations into the limelight. Unfortunately, the larger, American based, UFC would buy out Pride and attempt to perform an AFL-NFL merger circa 2007, but instead simply absorbed many of Pride’s best fighters and let go of everyone else, basically disbanding the organization. But, since UFC owns all the rights to Pride now, they decided to tip their hat to their former number one rival and offer a Pride rules and fighter mode in UFC Undisputed 3.

From the second we hit the character select screen we knew we were in for an intriguing new experience. Since many current UFC fighters cut their teeth in Pride, we were able to choose from both Pride fighters and UFC fighters who once competed in Pride and given new, younger looks to reflect the time period in their lives for which they fight with Pride. We saw a leaner, younger looking Rampage Jackson, a meaner looking Wanderlei Silva, and Mirko Cro Cop with a better head of hair. Their stats were also very different from their UFC versions to help represent where they were in their careers. It’s not just about the fighters though. Pride mode sports a completely different feel to it. The announcers are different. The arenas, rings, and referees are different. And most importantly, the rules are different.

Pride was so intensely popular with some people because it was also so brutal compared to many other MMA organizations as it allowed moves that would be considered fouls elsewhere. And all those moves are allowed in Pride mode. Piledrivers (called ‘spiking’ an opponent in MMA), elbows, soccer style kicks, and (my personal favorite) foot stomping an opponent’s face while they are down are all legal and even encouraged in Pride mode in order to get the victory and adds a whole new level of brutality to the game. On top of this, the time and weight class rules are laid out much differently to UFC and so fighters who might be in different weight classes and can no longer compete against each other in UFC, can go head-to-head once again in Pride.

After several bouts in Pride mode, I admit I can see why it was so popular and had me wondering if it was based in the US instead of Japan if it would have been able to compete better with UFC. But what’s done is done and all I can say about this new game mode is that if you were a fan of Pride more than UFC, you have a big reason now to buy this game now as this is easily the most accurate representation you’ll ever get now of that once great organization.

What do you folks think? Are you a former Pride supporter or is it UFC all the way for you? Will you dabble in this new mode? What do you think of the different rules? Let us know with comments below!

 

Originally Published: April 26, 2011, on Youtube.com/Rcars4885

I come to you once again with your weekly geek fix. This week’s episode sees me give my take on the PSN crash, review Batman #709 from DC Comics and the new Mortal Kombat from Netherrealm Studios and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment. My hot chick pick of the week is UFC Ring Girl Brittany Palmer and this week’s theme is the Mortal Kombat movie theme by The Immortals.

Originally Published: June 1, 2010, on Lundberg.me, Sportsrev.TV, and NationalLampoon.com

This week I reviewed Batman: Detective Comics #865 and UFC Undisputed 2010. My hot chick pick of the week this week is British model and reality TV star Sophie Reade.

Originally Published: June 1, 2010, on Examiner.com, PlayerAffinity.com, and ESPNNewYork.com

They are modern day gladiators as fans cheer for knockout blows and bone breaking submissions. It is the fastest growing sport in America and is wowing fans with both the technical precision and sheer brutality its athletes need in order to just be competitive, never mind to try to reach superstar status. Of course, I am talking about MMA and its premiere league, the UFC. As with every sport in modern America though, you haven’t really made the full impact your capable of on the popular culture until you have a successful video game franchise. With that, I present to you the second video game installment of the UFC: UFC Undisputed 2010 from THQ.

The first thing you notice as soon as you pop in UFC: Undisputed 2010 are the near-flawless graphics. Accurate facial designs and tattoos of every UFC fighter through every division makes you feel as if you are watching a live Pay-Per-View event at times. Cuts gushing open, blood splattering and staining the canvas, and bruised ribs shine as highlights of a great visual package. Add in live movies of the UFC ring girls (I love Arianny Celeste) introducing the Classic Matches mode and the game is as beautiful as all those girls.

The audio is spectacular as well. Great, fluid play-by-play and analysis by Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan that even takes your previous matches into account when commenting, something no other sports game really does. Include Bruce Buffer as the ring announcer and quality audio clips from every fighter for pre- and post-match interviews, including UFC President Dana White, and the audio is well played all around.

As with every other sports sim, the storyline is really determined by the results of your own play as you try to write your own story in career mode. If you keep winning, you’ll get title shots and be able to change weight classes and maybe even become a hall-of-famer. If you keep losing, you’ll wallow in the depths of the unknown and remain a nobody.

The biggest questions I had with UFC: Undisputed 2010 came with the decisions made about gameplay. I understand how difficult MMA is. It’s not something you can just pick up and play. You can’t just go outside, tape up your ankles, and start trying to choke out your brother whereas most other sports you just need a ball. Video games though should be something you can just pick up and play and you cannot do that at all with this game. The tutorial is something you’ll probably need to go through three or four times before you can even begin to understand how to perform basic techniques like throws and submission maneuvers and the amount of countering down by the computer can become frustrating even on easier game modes. If you don’t put your time in to learn the basic moves this will turn into a old school button masher for you very quickly.

This lack of pick up and play is a tremendous negative in terms of trying to draw in casual fans. The hardcore fans though will appreciate the work that has to go into making your created fighter the best he can be. The deep, detailed career mode that can follow you from being a scrub to a superstar, including what sponsors take an interest in you as you customize your own gear, is probably the greatest individual career mode I’ve ever seen in a sports game. Include sim modes where you can use an already existing fighter, ranging from Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir to Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and BJ Penn, to go after their respective weight classes’ title, to a gauntlet like title defense mode where you have to whittle away twelve competitors in a row and there is enough depth to this game to keep the hardcore fan coming back. But there’s even more! The Classic Matches mode where you relive and, in some cases, rewrite classic UFC matches to earn customization rewards, gives you a rarely seen total amount of depth from a fighting game.

And you can’t forget about the online play. Not only can you take your favorite fighters, real or created, up against other people, you can even join or start your own MMA camp. You can invite your friends to train with you and hone your skills for online play as you try to let people know that you are not only the ultimate fighter, you’re the ultimate trainer as well.

After devoting much of my Memorial Day weekend to this game, I can say that if you are a fan of the UFC, you’re going to love this game. If not, the difficult control schemes could leave you frustrated enough that you might not want to pick it up again, even with the glowing positives that you’ll notice from the second you get to the title screen. If you are on the fence about this game, not being able to just pick up and play is a big enough negative that might make you want to rent this before you make it a full-blown purchase.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 9.0: Near-flawless graphics in terms of rendering and arenas and the fighters are so detailed that you would think you’re watching an actual Pay-Per-View.

Audio: 10.0: Great music sets the theme for these modern day gladiators and when combined with tremendous voice over work from every person involved with the UFC makes this one of the better sounding games out there.

Plot/Plot Development: N/A: It’s a sports sim and therefore you make your own plot.

Gameplay: 6.5: The only real negative for this game is that you can’t just pick it up and start playing. Having to devote a lot of time to tutorials and building up your fighters and technique might turn off more casual fans.

Replay Value: 9.0: An in-depth career mode, title and title defense modes, and classic matches mode coupled with online play that includes building your own MMA camp will keep hardcore fans practicing their submission maneuvers long into the night.

Overall (not an average): 7.0: The lack of accessibility to casual fans and newcomers will turn this into something we don’t see much of nowadays, a button masher. Being unable to just pick up and play this takes it down a notch from a must buy to a must rent and is only recommended for the ultimate fan of the UFC.

UFC Undisputed 2010 is available now for PS3, PSP, and Xbox 360.

-Ray Carsillo

Originally Published: May 11, 2010, on NationalLampoon.com, Lundberg.me, and SportsRev.TV

This week I reviewed Iron Man 2: The Game, Alan Wake for Xbox 360, and Brightest Day #1. My hot chick pick of the week is UFC Ring Girl, Arianny Celeste.