What EA’s UFC games have always been very successful at is the striking and the feel of the octagon. Going back and forth with your opponent, ducking and diving, seeing momentum changes. All that makes for an incredible authentic experience and UFC 3 doesn’t dissapoint here either. Landing punches really makes an impact and you feel the weight that is thrown throughout the fights. Character models are probably the best you will see in any video game to date. Movements, expressions and even the tiniest muscle movements are realistically rendered. Taking too much damage not only has an impact on the scoreboard but also the character models, making you flinch with your character in pain sometimes.
Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Sports, Fighting
Release: February 2nd, 2018
Review copy provided by EA (Xbox One)
SOMETHING IS HOLDING ME BACK
What can plague the stand-up fights is the (intentional) lag between pressing the button and the actual punch being delivered. This makes sense in theory since UFC 3 sets out to be as realistic as possible and a response time ala Tekken would not look or feel right. What makes it problematic here is that so much of the fighting relies on context. Not being able to correctly time your moves makes it seem like a game of chance and too often the result is an unwanted or misfired attack.
During combat you can target specific body parts and exploit your opponents weaknesses. If you know the other fighter is vulnerable in certain areas you can shift your tactics and get the upper hand in tough fights. It is extremely satisfying to see strategies like these come together in the octagon. Chipping away at the stamina of your nemesis and seeing power shifts happen can make for epic moments.
THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
What UFC 3 struggles the most with is finding a way to transform the real life ground game into functioning and fun video game mechanics. It is very hard to tell what is going on and a lack of a proper tutorial doesn’t help either. The power struggle can come across a bit silly in it’s animations and never gives reliable feedback on the situation of your character.
It’s unfortunate that this big part of the sport is such random drag as it feels most of the time. This should be just as fun as striking conisdering the importance of it. If EA manages to turn this into a mini-game with some meat on it, this could really elevate the series in the future, but as it stands now the floor should be avoided at all costs.
BECOME THE G.O.A.T
The new career mode is called G.O.A.T and it lets you create a character from the ground up, be it realistic or completely goofy. You start out as a nobody and have to complete a number of achievements along your path to the Greatest of all Time. Although the career is very linear and sometimes seems completely predetermined, it is a fun ride and has enough variety to keep you entertained. A new feature is the ability to gain fans and media presence via social media. This can be important for your career progress but you always have to weigh the pros and cons. Do you want to go to the gym or spend additional time on twitter, radio shows or autograph sessions promoting your fight.
As fun as this is for a while, the career mode still has lots of potential that it simply ignores. Being part of press conferences or stare downs are just a few elements that should have found their way into the game.
BE THE ULTIMATE TEAM
The Ultimate Team mode works just like it does in other EA titles and will make sports fans feel right at home. You unlock fighters that you can use in single-player or online divisions. The driving force behind online games is the ability to become defending champion in your weight class. Being titleholder after a win streak can truly test your nerves when you fight close rounds against skilled opponents who are after your belt. You have a team of four fighters that you can upgrade with new moves or swap out completely. The most tense moments will happen in Ultimate team and it is a prefect fit for a UFC game.
It is a shame that it seems to be such a difficult thing to iron out the problems with the ground game in an otherwise solid game. UFC 3 still has lots of room to improve but shows at least some promise for the future with the new career mode and some new ideas that are worthwhile. As realistic and impressive as the graphics and animations are here, the game deserves that the gameplay catches up for a truly well rounded UFC game. Nonetheless, the third game in the series has it shining moments and enough variety to keep you in the octagon for a while. Let’s hope for a breakthrough in UFC 4.