Look, I'm not necessarily a MMA fan, but I have played a few games and watched a few matches in my day. The latest, EA Sports UFC, is a pretty good time, even for a casual player like myself. I took on Digital Trends' Adam Rosenberg in a casual match and beat the living daylights out of him in the first round using Bruce Lee. Somehow the button-per-limb control scheme really clicks with me, and I had the advantage because I've used the game's stick-based grapple controls before.
Of course, he knocked the sh*t out of me the next two rounds after getting the controls down.
In that first fight between Adam and I, making sure to watch his attacks and come back with either blocks or better timed hits was working for me. Being able to hold down L or R with the face buttons to modify attacks really seemed to help mix things up. But I suppose he started to see my patterns, and soon I was on the defensive. I was trying to time blocks to parry, but could only do it a couple of times before my face was bloodied.
The grappling side of the game is interesting in that it uses quarter-circle sweeping motions of the analog stick to clench and then move through positions. Somehow those sweeps feel kind of like what I'd imagine trying to break out of being caught up would feel like. My frantic QCF and QCB motions weren't enough to keep up with Adam's, so I lost another round.
In all, the combat system is easy enough to get into for even first timers to enjoy a round. But there are some complexities there to learn and master that gives UFC lasting power. There's plenty of depth there if you want it.
So, while I was losing, I took the time to appreciate the visuals of this new game. We played it on Xbox One in our hands-on session. From a distance from any of the screens where it was being played, UFC looked photorealistic, like you were watching a television broadcast. We were told that because they only have to render two characters, the developers could crank the visual level all the way up. As you'll see in this gameplay video, they've done just that.
They used every ounce of system resources to make the in-game fighters look like the real ones. The team recorded 3D head and body scans for all of the athletes, and then took it over the top with details like veins popping out of players' heads when they're straining. Also expect to see blood and sweat come out in the most natural/gross looking way. Even the clothing looks real and seems to flow naturally.
It was a quick look, but EA Sports UFC is easy to get into and play, and it looks impossibly good to boot. It launches -- Bruce Lee, bruises and all -- this June for Xbox One and PS4.
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