When EA Sports UFC launched at the midpoint of 2014, there was no doubt that it would be a good-looking game, but as with any fighting simulator, you need a lot more than that to make it worth buying. Luckily, EA Canada's first journey into the mixed martial arts genre had plenty to offer, and continues to surprise fans with additional content more than a half year later.
Our first dip into the virtual MMA pool involved going through the career mode, and that alone was worth every penny. We created our own character, slapped some tattoos on him, earned a few sponsors and proceeded to knock out half of the UFC heavyweight division en-route to claiming and defending the title.
Move over, Cain Velasquez.
Even offline, the combat mechanics are a massive step forward from any fighting simulator that we recall playing, and as massive MMA fans, it felt about as close as a video game was going to get. Fighters showed realistic damage to the strikes we landed, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that even unconscious opponents were bound by the laws of physics, watching wide-eyed as their heads bounced off of our knees while they fell awkwardly to the cage floor.
As cool and fun as all of the gameplay is, it was the submission mechanics that were the star of the show. Gone were the days of button mashing, replaced with a mini-game that actually takes skill and reflexes to master. It's so satisfying, in fact, that we started focusing our thug's training on the grappling and submission side of MMA, rather than the Mark Hunt, walk-off knockout techniques that we enjoyed early in our career.
The online modes are also a pretty cool place to spend some time, although casual players may find this to be a massive bump in competition that comes with a huge learning curve. Even we struggled with it for quite some time, although there is no better feeling than knocking out your human opponent with a spinning back kick from Bruce Lee, then imagining their controller sailing across the room in a fit of rage. Not that we speak from experience.
"Mom? Dad...? Can I have a new PS4 controller for Christmas?"
Perhaps the best reason we can give to pick up this title goes beyond the slick visuals and solid gameplay. One of the more impressive features that EA Sports UFC has to offer is the continued support of the studio, constantly adding in new fighters, such as Brock Lesnar, T.J. Dilllashaw and Rampage Jackson. It also appears that the game will see an entirely new division, as several UFC fighters from women's 115lb class have dropped hints on social media that they'll be next. This leads us to believe the continued support won't end any time soon.