EA Sports UFC 3 is a knockout punch, in the best way possible.
Whether you’re a fan of MMA fighting, or a complete stranger to its world, EA Sport’s EA Sports UFC 3 is likely to greatly appeal to you. Veterans of the sport are likely to appreciate how faithfully the game recreates the brutal intensity of the combat sport with it mechanics, as well as the general atmosphere and culture surrounding it. Newcomers, meanwhile, will probably find a surprisingly deep and addictive fighting game waiting for them, falling into the trap of “one more fight” after every round, playing into the night, long after they had originally intended to stop.
The main thing that stands out in EA Sports UFC 3 is the veneer of authenticity to it. That should probably not come as a surprise to anybody who has picked up an EA Sports title over the last decade or so- after all, the franchise has made a name for itself in striving to recreate the authentic experience no matter what sport it tackles. EA Sports UFC 3 is no different in that regard. From the commentary to the slick overlays to the fighters’ entrances, to round transitions, to the scoreboards, and just about everything else I could think of, EA Sports UFC 3 almost felt to me like I was watching the real thing live on TV.
Of course, those illusions were shattered right as soon as I started playing- this was through no fault of the game. I jumped into this game, like I would into any new fighter, and decided to button mash my way to victory. EA Sports UFC 3, however, was going to have none of that- it punished me for my indiscretion and unnecessary aggression, again and again, until I was forced to stop and consider how the game played.
"EA Sports UFC 3, you see, has a far more deliberate pace than other similar games on the market. From its unique (but hugely intuitive and instantly understandable) controls to how every action is capped by your stamina meter, it’s a game that asks you to pay attention to your opponent and surroundings, and act accordingly."
EA Sports UFC 3, you see, has a far more deliberate pace than other similar games on the market. From its unique (but hugely intuitive and instantly understandable) controls to how every action is capped by your stamina meter, it’s a game that asks you to pay attention to your opponent and surroundings, and act accordingly. Is your opponent about to attack from a certain direction? Maybe adjust your swerve or block accordingly. Do you notice them weak on one side? Double your attacks from that side. Do you see them hurt or limping? Attack that limb, and knock them down.
Every punch and kick has an associated animation that you commit to, every action has heft. You have so many different kinds of attacks and moves at your disposal- uppercuts, hooks, punches, kicks, with technical modifiers, signature modifiers, and directional modifiers, it’s easy to lose track of it all. But try and ever get too greedy and aggressive, and you’ll find yourself winded- not just right then, but also permanently, as you lose a chunk of your stamina for the rest of the fight, a miserable state of affairs, since you need stamina to do just about anything.
Maybe to someone who follows MMA, this doesn’t sound particularly special- but the key thing to note here is how unique it makes EA Sports UFC 3 as a ‘fighter’ (which I suppose would be the closest genre classification for it) on the market- there isn’t quite anything else like it available. Slowly coming to grips with the game’s unique take on fighting, and learning the controls and the mechanics, and going from losing every fight I played to actually winning them- and winning them in different ways each time- was a hugely satisfying experience, giving me the sort of endorphin rush I haven’t had from a sports game in a very long time.
"From its strong controls to its great core mechanics that make it unlike anything else on the market today, to its strong presentation (except for the licensed soundtrack which, in true EA fashion, is unmemorable at best, and obnoxiously offensive at worst), to the huge amount of content it offers, then, EA Sports UFC 3 is a knockout."
The strong mechanical core of the game is also backed up by a hefty amount of content in game. Yes, you get the requisite ‘fight now’ option, as well as the option to play online (which seems to work out well, as I experienced minimal lag during online fights), set up a tournament, or even engage in live events. That aside, there is a full featured career mode, which sees you creating your own fighter- and the amount of customization options you get offering granular control are frankly ridiculous- and then working you way up from the bottom. You’ll be accepting fights, training, looking after your health, posting on social media, and of course, actually fighting in the career mode. It’s actually really full featured, and it’s the reason that I ended up spending so much time on the game- because after each fight, I’d tell myself “just one more”, and then I’d spend the better part of the next hour in prepping for, and then actually trying to win, the fight.
This is an EA Sports game, which means that in addition to the career mode, you also have Ultimate Team- which works pretty much how Ultimate Team always does. You’ll be buying card packs to build up your roster, equip them with moves and equipment, grant them buffs and perks, and more. And yes, as always, there are microtransactions governing your purchases of these card packs, though mercifully, and contrary to some early reports, these microtransactions seem to be limited to this mode alone, and don’t affect your progression through any other mode in the game.
From its strong controls to its great core mechanics that make it unlike anything else on the market today, to its strong presentation (except for the licensed soundtrack which, in true EA fashion, is unmemorable at best, and obnoxiously offensive at worst), to the huge amount of content it offers, then, EA Sports UFC 3 is a knockout. Even beyond its merits as a faithful video game recreation of the combat sport, it’s just a darn good video game that is hugely satisfying in its own right- and that, I think, is EA Sports UFC 3’s greatest achievement.
This game was reviewed on PlayStation 4.
Extremely satisfying core mechanics, great controls, fantastic presentation, and no shortage of content whatsoever.
An obnoxious soundtrack, RNG microtransactions in Ultimate Team (as always)
Even beyond its merits as a faithful video game recreation of the combat sport, it's just a darn good video game that is hugely satisfying in its own right- and that, I think, is EA Sports UFC 3's greatest achievement.