Hands-on review: Is EA Sports UFC 3 a worthy title contender?
The now defunct THQ were responsible for making the UFC games until the company went under back in 2013. For the past few years now, UFC video games are made by EA who previously worked on the Fight Night boxing series.
Instead of EA Sports' Madden and FIFA franchises, the UFC series is not released annually so there is room for improvements and big changes. That said, does the two year release gap make EA Sports UFC 3 any different to the game that came out in 2016?
Before I talk about the changes, the one thing that has stayed the same are the visuals and presentation. Even though I played this year's game on my PS4 Pro on a 4KTV, the graphics look too similar to EA Sports UFC 2.
It's not just the graphics that are the same as the camera angles have not changed much either. Even the entrances/intros have not been altered in any way. That's not to say this game has bad graphics and presentation, it's just that sometimes it felt like I was playing an expansion instead of proper full sequel. Even though the graphics in EA Sports UFC 3 is almost identical to EA Sports UFC 2, what has received the biggest change is the controls and overall gameplay. While some game developers "dumb down" gameplay in sequels to make it more accessible, in my opinion EA Sports UFC 3 has done the opposite and made things harder for noobs and casual gamers. Before it was much easier to duck and weave as well as block shots from your opponent. Well for some reason or another, EA Sports decided to change the control scheme and it's much harder to both attack and defend in this new game.
For example, in EA Sports UFC 2 I was able to do a lot of cool things such as deadly kicks and the superman punch. Well in the third game, you now have to press more buttons to initiate more powerful moves and they are harder to execute.
Dodging and weaving is also much more difficult to make it more realistic to the sport of MMA. Blocking is still similar, although defending while you are on the ground can be a pain as opponents' punches can connect at a more faster rate. One thing that has been easier though is giving players a choice on the type of submission controls you want. You can stick to the convoluted analogue stick setup, or you can change it to the much easier system of just mashing the face buttons. The latter system is better in my opinion and I'm glad EA Sports added the choice for players. In terms of fighters, EA Sports UFC 3 has a stacked roster full of many recognisable fighters from around the world both male and female. Ronda Rousey is my favourite of all time, although there are others included here such as GSP, CM Punk, Conor McGregor, Cris Cyborg and many more from various weight classes. Even New Zealand fighters like Mark Hunt and Daniel Hooker are included in the game as well.
The only batch of fighters that are missing are many past fighters like Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock and many others. That said, this could be due to contractual reasons as not everyone is in good terms with the UFC at the moment...
Contest wise, there's many modes on offer here in this third game. Aside from usual real-life style matches, my favourite feature of the entire game is the arcade friendly Knockout Mode. This is a noob friendly mode that makes UFC feel like Tekken or any other fighting game. Knockout mode eliminates takedowns, submissions and stamina in favour of an all out punching and kicking match. To make this mode even more funny, rapper Snoop Dogg is the commentator in this mode too! EA Sport UFC 3's Career Mode is also better than it was in previous games. They have added new PR activities for you to do such as taking part in photoshoots, joining a gym, attending press conferences and more.
The more things that you do, the better your stats will be in the long run. Another great thing about the Career mode is that you can be anyone you want. You can either create your own fighter, or choose anyone that's already on the roster to try and become the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
All in all, EA Sports UFC 3 is a solid entry in the franchise although it does not do too much to differentiate itself from the previous game that came out two years ago. The change to the controls however is also a controversial decision as I feel EA Sports made the game harder. That said, fans of UFC will still like this game as there's lots to do and see here.