When sequels are announced many expect them to be bigger and greater than their predecessors and the vast majority of modern developers deliver on the expectations, as games such as Hotline Miami 2, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, were significantly larger than the titles in the series which came before it. However, both these games, were definitely not ‘’better’’ in my opinion than their direct predecessors. And that is because most, when developing new titles in already established series, concentrate simply on expansion of the pre-existing framework, and while they are hell bent on adding new guns, missions, and outfits, they ultimately neglect the framework itself, which with time, just like everything, ages.

The abovementioned phenomenon, in this day and age, is basically an unspoken rule of the industry. However, every rule has an exception, and the said exception, to this particular limitation came from a publisher, which many would expect the least to go out, and improve on a sequel, instead of just re-releasing the same old game, with a handful of new content. That said publisher, is EA, the same EA which has been stomped to the ground, for doing the exact opposite, to what they just did to the just released UFC 3.

UFC 3, seemingly came out of nowhere. As it was announced unceremoniously, on the first of November, 2017 – just three months prior to its actual release, which has taken place on the second of February, 2018.  And the rather hasty, and low-key announcement, didn’t inspire many with confidence. As most have expected UFC 3 to be dud, as the title’s announcement felt like a form of damage control, designed to reduce the cost of marketing, for a title which is quite simply going to be mind-numbingly bad, or in the very least, below average. However, all those who came to the same conclusion following UFC 3’s announcement, will probably happy to hear that this particular instalment of the Ultimate Fighting Championship series, may just be the best one yet.

UFC 3, is a brain child of EA’s Burnaby, British Columbia, studio. Which has visibly put in a metric ton of effort into this game, as UFC 3, is as explosive, and exciting as ‘TrT’ Vitor Belfort, who steamrolled Bisping, Rockhold, and Henderson, in quick succession. Whereas, UFC, and the subsequent UFC 2, were more like the slow, lethargic, and quite simply boring Louis Smolka, who is currently on a four-fight losing streak. And to put it simply, UFC 3, is the most impressive outing of the franchise to date – as it is not just the most accurate simulation of the sport in question, but it is also the most entertaining and exciting EA title since the 2009’s FIFA 10.

There are many things, which could be attributed to UFC 3’s success. However, the feature which stands out the most, is the newly implemented risk/reward system, which elevates the title’s combat to a brand-new, previously unseen level. It allows players to punish opponent’s mistakes, but also, to receive severe and painful punishment in return. It rewards bravery, but penalises brashness. It promotes nonchalance, but at the same time, it also disciplines those who grow full of themselves. And best of all, the system in question is not based on any complicated twenty-button combos, or prayers to Satan, but simply on the in-game fighters’ momentum.

When playing it safe, most will throw jabs and leg kicks, and by doing so, they’ll keep their body stationary, and any and all counter strikes, which may come their way will land on natural momentum, dealing base amount of damage. However, if one lounges forward, while throwing a left superman punch, he/she will be susceptive to positive momentum as their fighter’s head and upper body will be following the motion of the left arm. If one’s opponent happens to know what he/she is doing, he/she will for certain counter with right overhand, meaning that they’ll duck underneath the superman punch, and will catch your head using theirs and your momentum to their advantage. And if such scenario plays out in game, you are likely to enter the low health state, if it is just the beginning of the fight; get knocked down if you are starting to get tired; and worst of all, you’ll straight up go to sleep, if you get caught with depleted stamina. Below, you can see exactly how this works out, with some captured in-game footage.

 

The newly introduced momentum system may feel overly punishing at first, but once one learns how to play out a three or even five round bout, he/she will grow to value it above all else. And that’s because it keeps all in-game fights at an equal level no matter how tired one’s fighter may be. You may be out of stamina, and on the defensive, but if you manage to catch your oppressor with a quick combination, while being chased down, then the fight which you were bound to lose, may just turn in your favour. However, before that happens, you’ll watch your avatar gloriously fall to the ground multiple times. And that’s thanks to the fact that UFC 3, has been completely re-captured, and all in-game strikes pack more punch, than ever before. While all the KOs, might have felt a little underwhelming in the beta, they sure don’t in the full game.

Gameplay wise, UFC 3, is simply incredible. From footwork, through feinting and head-movement, all the way down to submissions, and ground-and-pound, it is simply sublime. While at the beginning all in-game actions feel effortless and power-driven, with time they wither, just like the fighters. The fact that you can see that your character is no longer capable of carrying out the high-end combinations, by simply looking at his slowly receding stance, and staggered movement, without to having as much as glance at the top of the screen at the stamina meter, is simply astounding and simply shows how well designed, from top to bottom, UFC 3 is.

As you can see, at its core, UFC 3, is second to none. However, grinding out exhibition fights, will only get one so far. So before one can pass judgment on UFC 3 as a whole, he/she has take into consideration all the modes, which the title at hand has to offer. And unlike UFC 3’S gameplay, its modes are rocky to say the least, and in some cases, leave a lot to be desired. While EA Canada was right to brag about its new and improved career mode, it has to be underlined that while it hosts a variety of welcome additions, it is still lacks the polish, required in order to hang in there with the best in the class. It shows glimmers of brilliance at the beginning, where players first meet Dana White, and have him commentate on your final minor-leagues fight, but after that, it turns into more of the same.

It would be unjust of one to state that beyond the minor leagues, UFC’s story mode hasn’t changed at all, because it had. There are now goals and objectives, which keep you driven throughout, even post the main milestone of the champ vs. champ fight. You can now select gyms, where you want to train and with whom. And all your choices will ultimately shape your in-ring style, as well as out-of-ring personality. That’s because being a knock-out specialist, will allow you to degrade your opponents on social media, while increasing your fame, whereas interacting with your fans on stream, will likely lead to stagnation of your popularity. And considering the newly implemented depth of the mode, most will surely spend tens of hours, simply training their fighter, instead of the meagre couple, which most invested into story modes of the previous two instalments.

Without shadow of a doubt, UFC 3’s story mode, is EA Canada’s favourite child, as it is the largest, the most profound, and well-designed mode of the entire title. However, right behind it, hides the black sheep of the family, in form of the Ultimate Team Mode, which considering the recent uproar regarding the microtransactions, is likely to only further add to the already roaring fire. As UFC 3, just like last year’s Battlefront II, has a big problem with micro-transactions and on the outside, the issues seem to be identical between the two titles.

However, UFC 3, doubles down, and borderline forces players to spend money, as the in-game store, where all the in-game items can be purchased features limited number of slots, which alternate every so often, so even if you save up 250,000 to purchase your golden fighter of choice, you may still be forced to spend money and coins on packs. As that particular character you want, may never appear when you’re online. And yes, it is possible to lock items in store, until they are purchased, but in order to do so, you have to spend some money first. As all items can only be locked in place with UFC points. UFC 3 Ultimate Team¸ is a blemish on an otherwise immaculate title and while I’ve given this particular mode more time than I should have, I have still found no joy, nor satisfaction, and was left with a bitter taste in my mouth. But leaving the Ultimate Team mode, has allowed me to return to the other, excellent, portions of this particular title, so swings and roundabouts – I guess.

Not to prolong, all that has to be said about UFC 3, is that it is the grandiose, and robust MMA sim, which most were waiting for, since the release of UFC 2009 Undisputed. It features intuitive and explosive stand up gameplay, which beautifully coexists with all the ground-game mechanics. And while some armchair pundits, may still moan about how simple ground and clinch based manoeuvres and holds are. Then it has to be underlined that the so-called simplicity, ultimately allows the title to reach wider audience, which won’t feel intimidated by unnecessarily confusing submissions or takedowns. The highly anticipated Ultimate Team, may be a Stockton slap in the face of many, it can ultimately be overlooked and those who skip it, will not be missing out on anything significant.



Author

Kamil

My name is Kamil, and I'm the 'Feature Man'. I write news, and reviews just like everybody else, however, feature articles are my true forte. And this is not because I'm another self-centered, pseudo-intellectual games journalist, but because there are many discussion worthy matters which go unnoticed in the flurry of other video-game related articles. If you want to read more of my #HotTakes and #Opinions, or if you simply want to fight me over the internet, you can follow me on Twitter @Kama_Kamilia.