UFC 4 Video Game Review
By James Lee
As the fourth edition of the UFC’s video game venture with EA Sports hit the shelves last Friday, it has undergone a large amount of scrutiny.
As the roster choice has been a particular issue of contention online, I thought it would be beneficial to spend some time on the game and give it an unbiased review compared to the previous editions of the UFC-EA partnership.
As somebody who has owned all three of the EA UFC games prior and even the older versions of UFC Undisputed by THQ, my initial opinion was positive all round, with the difference from UFC 3 evident throughout the game.
The speed, power and technique of the different fighters is evident and really gives a unique, enjoyable playing experience from strawweight to heavyweight.
Most evidently, the grappling aspect of the gameplay has dramatically improved. Not only more flowing, but more pleasant as submissions are more compelling to both defend and attack with. As the game is vastly different from UFC 3 in transitions, clinches and takedowns, regular playing time is necessary to make the overall MMA experience on the game better.
The striking is not substantially different from the previous edition, as head kicks are easy to execute, but the loose variety of head movement and transition into close range is much developed.
The opportunity for highlight moments is necessary for a fighting game and UFC 4 will keep people returning to the game often, especially as the likes of Francis N’Gannou, Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Derrick Lewis can all fight each other in knockout mode. Not only that, playing with legends like Kimbo Slice, Wanderlei Silva, Royce Gracie and many more is a welcomed continuance for the franchise.
Furthermore, the career mode section is more intimate, and the changes added makes the mode unique to each individual fighter, however, as the main mode of the game, it can be repetitive and tedious.
On the other hand, the removal of the Ultimate Team mode was imperative, and the inclusion of shorter online tournaments adds a compelling element as people try to win a 64-man tournament in rapid succession.
The roster choice is the most contentious thing about the game, however. As the UFC continually strives to legitimise their rankings, the game does everything but that. In fact, I would go as far as calling the fighter choice by EA lazy and lethargic.
There are at least thirty names who should have been included, especially when considering the need for contenders in the career mode section. Calvin Kattar, Shane Burgos, Cody Stamann, Dan Ige, Carlos Diego Ferreira, Gregor Gillespie, Drew Dober, Islam Makhachev, Geoff Neal, Vicente Luque, Aleksandar Rakic, Amanda Ribas, Jennifer Maia, Roxanne Modafferi, Irene Aldana and Askar Askarov are all notable exclusions.
Certainly, over-saturating the game with hundreds of fighters may have been a negative, however, there can be no excuse for missing ranked fighters from each division. Calvin Kattar, Jennifer Maia and Irene Aldana are most likely one fight away from a title fight and find themselves not included when Dana White, Bruce Buffer and CM Punk are all playable characters.
Bruce Lee, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are likewise all unlockable characters despite never fighting MMA professionally. Their addition would be appreciated if more of those who deserve to be in the game were not denied.
Although insignificant in the larger scheme of the game, it is frustrating that the smaller details and the simplest things to fix were not upon the release date.
Most of the roster has just been copied over from the previous game, which has led to fighters like Erick Silva, Joe Duffy, Bethe Correia, Evan Dunham, Tai Tuivasa and Ray Borg having a space despite not fighting for the organisation. Even smaller issues like fighters being in different weight classes to that of real-life is again lazy and unnecessary.
On a more positive note though, the graphics have much improved, even down to the intricacies of body composition. The detail of Thiago Santos hammer tattoo best notes that.
Also, the pre-fight selection is far better with the full-body image of each fighter, which are all clearly identifiable. Not only that, the detail in each arena from the T-Mobile Arena to Madison Square Garden makes the advancement of a career more noticeable as your fighter developments from the backyard to the world’s most famous venues.
Finally, the addition of open weight contests takes away limits and allows the pairing of dream fights like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St-Pierre, like the sport was founded on. Likewise, trying to beat Stipe Miocic with flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo is an entertaining challenge.
Ultimately, the game is slightly comparable to the previous game, but is a lot more enjoyable and detailed. After a two-and-a-half-year break from the release of the last game, UFC 4 is the best in the series history but is like most EA games that are good for novelty gameplay, despite lacking longevity.