It’s safe to say that the sport of MMA has only grown in the last decade to the extent that everyone knows who Conor McGreggor is. UFC has been a household name now for a number of years and EA took the reigns a couple of years ago from THQ to take it to the next level. The first game showed promised and UFC 2 refines the whole experience. Unfortunately, shortcomings remain and it’s hard to think of a way to fix them due to the nature of the sport.
UFC 2 is very much a simulation of the sport. From a technical perspective, UFC 2 is thoroughly impressive in every facet. The game features more than 250 fighters, each with incredible detail. Normally, a game with a roster this big will have discrepancies on which fighter was given more attention but the attention to detail in every single fighter is incredibly impressive.
Unfortunately, not everything is as impressive across the board. The gameplay itself feels much better of its predecessor. The standing game is superb with kicks and punches really feeling like they have a true impact. As you punch and kick your opponent you can see the part of the body you hit get red, swell, and eventually cut. Sure it’s graphic but it’s incredibly impressive tech at work here that deserves attention.
As I mentioned the standing game is incredible. It’s tactical, it’s impactful, and it’s incredibly fun. The developers knew this because one of the only new modes in UFC 2 is the Knockout Mode which removes all the grappling, ground game, and submission and makes it all about knocking out your opponent with strikes. This is easily the most fun you can have in the game. To say though that the most fun you can have in the game is essentially boxing and kicking without all the intricacies involved with MMA pretty much sums it all up.
The problem with the grappling is that is just isn’t that much fun. It’s definitely better and more streamlined over the first outing as you now simply use the right stick in directions instead of quarter circles but it honestly just feels like a guessing game. You don’t feel like there’s strategies involved or a stamina war. It’s trying to get back to the standing game that takes precedence most of the time.
The Career mode though is bitterly disappointing. The first game saw you train to improve stats, fight, choose your next fight, rinse and repeat. This is pretty much the same here with very small changes. One of those changes come from a random situation moment where you could be hurt or something else occurs in your schedule. It doesn’t really add much to the experience though. Should you complete a training mini-game and like the outcome, you can then sim that training portion rather than play it again and again to get you to the fight quicker. It’s good as it stops repetition but at the same time it’s not a worthy replacement.
The game also features an Ultimate Team Mode but honestly this is just something to maybe cash in on or fall in line with other EA Sports games. While other games’ card packs may yield exciting new players, this just gives you a slightly different strike. It’s not very interesting and nothing exciting unlock that makes it worth your while to continue.
I honestly think that UFC 2 is the best they can do with the game as a simulation. It looks incredible and plays really well. The portions though that slow down are dull and diminish all the fun of the standing game. If they start to open it up to be more arcade like you could scare away hardcore fans. Honestly, with such a great licence it’s weird to think they’ll never get the quality of game you’d somehow expect.