EA Sports UFC 3 Review
Extra Features: online multiplayer (2 players), leaderboards, download content
2016 was my first year to be introduced to the UFC game series with UFC 2 and, not being a sports fan, I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed it. The fighting game fan in me enjoyed the game for its deep combat. EA Sports UFC 3 is a mixed martial arts game developed by EA Canada and published by EA Sports. UFC 3 improves upon the original with some nice changes to gameplay and an even bigger roster than UFC2. All fighters that were in UFC 2 return along with a few more.
The first thing that most returning players will notice about UFC 3 is that the striking gameplay has been completely overhauled from the previous game. Actions are now more fluid and striking is a lot more useful and in-depth. Appendages of a fighter still have their own individual health gauges, but this time it is shown in a separate health bar for each (head, body, legs), which makes it much easier to tell how much health each appendage has. It seems as if all appendages can take more damage so quick knockouts are harder to get this time. All fighters also have a block gauge that is used up when blocking an attack so you can't rely completely on blocking. There is a new swaying system where you can tilt the right analog in a direction to duck under moves allowing you to avoid a strike and counter it.
The health bar and stamina bar are still the same. As you perform attacks, the health bar will lower and eventually refill based on the attack performed. Spamming with strikes is much easier in UFC 3 but stamina seems to lower a lot faster from strikes, so constant striking will lower your stamina and in turn lower your damage output and make you more susceptible to a knockout due to lower health. The new striking system makes fights more strategic and lively. If you find a player that is spamming, you can wait for them to tire down or wait for them to mess up then knock them down nearly instantly. Heavy hitting moves require more thought since they use up greater stamina and have longer recovery animations allowing for easier counters. Matches often last longer because of the new striking system. Some of the buttons have changed also, such as holding RT to block your head then while still holding RT, hold LT to block your body. Body appendages are still mapped to the face buttons for attacking and holding one of the shoulder buttons and hitting a face button to change your attacks.
When your fighter is far away, you're character will perform a run when moving toward your opponent. Hit an appendage enough or counter an opponent's move and you'll stagger your opponent into a wobbly animation to where they will have to back up and wait for their health to regenerate. The ground game for UFC 3 basically remains the same as it was in UFC 2. The only major difference that I have noticed with takedowns and clenches is that they seem harder to counter now. It seems that takedown counters need more attention when learning a character along with the massive amount of strikes that your fighter can perform. Takedowns are still just as dangerous as they were in UFC 2 but appendages have a greater defense, so you can't simply go straight to a full body takedown, hit your opponent in the head a few times and instantly win the match as easily as you could in UFC 2 - of course back then it was easier to counter a full body takedown punch, so there is always that to consider.
The main single player modes are once again Career mode and Ultimate Team mode. Career mode has way more options this time. You can pick an established fighter or a Create a character and work your way through fights that lead up to a fight with a rival. Each fight has a certain amount of weeks that you go through where you can spend money (earned from fights) to go a variety of gyms and spend points to train, learn moves, boost stats or build up your fanbase. You'll learn moves through training exercises at all the gyms. Training exercises are actually helpful this time since they require you to perform certain actions against a CPU opponent that will mimic a true fight, such as hitting an opponent with a certain amount of punches while only missing a few punches or performing a certain takedown. Boosting stats will give you attribute bonuses to certain areas and also increase your fitness level (overall health for the next fight). Training will allow you to compete against a fighter that will mimic the AI of your next opponent. You can also go to your fans and plan a meet up, post up tweets on Twitter, play games on Twitch and other types of promotional events to build your fanbase. Fights have a certain level of hype that will display before each fight and you'll gain more fans with a higher amount of promotion. The problem with Career mode is that even with all the extras it still comes down to your basic match against a CPU opponent which gets old pretty quickly. Some players might enjoy it more than others, but it's a constant grind with little reward.
Ultimate Team mode is similar to UFC 2's Ultimate Team but it has been spiced up nicely with UFC 3. Players can now pick established fighters instead of only Create a Characters but with a catch. You have to collect fighter cards through buying or receiving packs in order to use established fighters. Fighters all have their own unique attributes with some being better than others. The Create a Character has its own card that has three different levels of attributes from bronze to silver to gold attribute levels. All fighters can be equipped with certain attacks, takedowns, clenches, submissions, perks and bonuses based on the cards that are in your inventory. Card slots per fighter depend on the type of fighter type - wrestler, striker, specialist, etc. You'll fight your way through AI opponents that mimic other players in single player or you can choose to go online and fight your way through actual players. Sometimes you can be at a total disadvantage based on your opponent's attributes. Just like before, you start out as a contender and work your way up to winning the champion belt and then have to defend it.
While working your way through Ultimate Team, you'll be gaining coins that can be used to buy packs of cards to give you more attributes, moves and fighters. You can also gain gold, silver and bronze coins to buy more rare fighter and attribute cards. Your own inventory cards can be traded in for cards of greater value, such as giving up a fighter, perk, move and takedown card of bronze or silver levels to get a gold level card. There are also weekly packs of cards to try for as well. Skill challenges also return and they are in much greater number this time. You have your basic training exercises and challenges of various skill levels that will give a reward of normal coins or one of the other three types. Like before, you can either buy UFC points with real life currency or simply build up several coins in order to buy unlockables or packs or cards. Ultimate Team is a major grind like before, but it's more satisfying with all the various cards and not being forced to play only a Create a Character.
UFC 3 helps out a player greatly with tutorials and many tips and hints sprinkled throughout the game. Along with the playing manual, it's pretty easy to figure out the basics and more advanced techniques this time. The game still has a practice mode and allows you to record various moves and play them back to attempt to work on your problem areas in a fight. UFC 3 is much more equal to a normal fighting game's level of depth compared to previous installments. The game still has your single player basic modes such as instant fight, knockout mode and custom mode. There is also a "Stand and Bang" (striking only) mode and a "Submission" mode (No strikes, only submissions win). There is also a tournament mode for setting up your own offline tournaments. The game still has casual online matches and ranked championship matches. Ranked matches play out much like Ultimate Team matches where you start out as a contender then gain a championship promotion and have to defend your championship against other players. The Live Events mode once again returns and allows players to pick their predictions for upcoming real life UFC fights and play out the fights.
If you were a fan of UFC 2, you'll most likely enjoy UFC 3 but the new striking gameplay will take some getting used. It's not easy to simply jump ship between the two and expect to dominate in UFC 3. When going back to UFC 2, it seems like the fighters are moving at 1.5 normal speed with all the lost frames of animations during strikes compared to UFC 3's more fluid striking gameplay. Besides the striking system overhaul and Career mode changes, not much has really changed with UFC 3 compared to UFC 2, besides the obvious graphical enhancements, fluid fighter animations and tweaks here and there, but overall UFC 3 is a lot more fun to play.
+ Overall gameplay is much more fluid compared to UFC 2
+ Much improved striking gameplay
+ Career mode has a lot more content
+ Ultimate Team mode has the option to play as established fighters now
- Even with the update, Career mode still gets repetitive
- Clenches and takedowns could have used more updating along with striking
Final Rating: 85% - EA Sports UFC 3 has greatly improved the UFC striking system and the gameplay is more fluid making matches even more enjoyable.