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Hands On With EA Sports UFC 2: Can The Sequel Provide Some Much Needed Longevity?

Hands On With EA Sports UFC 2: Can The Sequel Provide Some Much Needed Longevity?
By Mikey Traynor
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When EA Sports picked up the licence for the UFC and set about making their first MMA game since the promising but ultimately low-profile EA MMA, it was cause for the fans of the sport to get genuinely excited.

Finally a big budget UFC game with good graphics and some of the same mechanics from the hugely popular Fight Night series was coming to consoles, and the game indeed sold very well.

It was a very good first jump into the UFC for EA Sports, and the initial impressions for many were enthusiastic, but it soon became apparent that there wasn't enough there to keep gamers coming back for more, and the online scene was pretty much dead only months after the initial release.

This time EA Sports want to change that, and we at Balls.ie were lucky enough to be given access to the EA Sports UFC 2 Ultimate Team beta to try out the new game mode that is looking to make all the difference.

Ultimate Team in EA Sports UFC 2?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLx4mfhgqCc

Yes. And it's a great call.

The ultra popular FIFA game mode is not something you would think translates to an individual sport such as MMA, but they found a way to make it work and it's very promising.

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The above video breaks down the general aspect, but the idea is that you create your own stable of fighters, your own gym if you will, and through fighting and opening packs you can slowly upgrade your characters into monsters, and look to dominate the opposition online.

Customisation Is King

The best part of Ultimate Team is the total freedom in terms of customising your fighter.

If you wanted to, you could carefully craft your own SBG replica and take on the world, or you could make the most ridiculous looking fighters imaginable and take them online.

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The wonderful weirdness of the online community will no doubt give you laughs as you enter matches, just like I had when I came up against this guy:

Use Your Favourite Fighter's Best Weapons

The card game aspect of Ultimate Team is a little different for UFC 2, as unlike in FIFA, Madden, and NHL where the cards are the players that you can use, in UFC 2 the cards are attributes, perks, or fighter's signature moves to apply to your fighter.

For example, pulling Conor McGregor's straight left out of a pack will give you a nice boost to your striking ratings, and the actual animation of his punch. The same can be said for Ronda Rousey's armbar, or Robbie Lawler's overhand right etc etc.

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It's a very good way to keep the player buying packs, but I must admit I was a little concerned with how expensive the packs were in relation to in-game coins earned from fights. I get the impression that those who are willing to spend big in terms of real money will get a very big advantage early on.

As someone who doesn't spend money on in game purchases, I look forward to the challenge of grafting my way to the top, but I know not everyone feels that way, which is fair enough.

Gameplay Changes

Even though my experiences were limited to Ultimate Team and Practise modes, I still got an idea as to what the changes in actual gameplay will bring, and they were very welcome.

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Anytime I played EA Sports UFC with my friends, there was an unwritten rule to keep the fight standing for entertainment purposes, but a new grappling and submission system is much more beginner friendly while also proving challenging to get consistently good at.

The 'Grapple Assist Hud' tells you which direction to hold the stick in order to make the move you want, and it's about completing the move before your opponent can complete his, which means you will have an advantage if you know the moves by memory.

The ability to plant your feet and utilise head movement ala Dominick Cruz is a very welcome addition,but another new feature that I noticed, and was not entirely pleased with, was the sudden burst of energy you get when you rock an opponent.

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It's clear why it's been put in as that is something that definitely happens in real MMA, as an adrenaline rush follows landing a big shot, but it was much too powerful, and landing 10 shots in two seconds looked simply unrealistic, however, this is an early beta and I fully expect it to be toned down in the full release.

Visuals

Again, the beta demo is never the place to judge visuals, but while there were a few glitches and odd moments, the game feels much more fluid in it's animation, especially in terms of knockouts.

One thing that I was not impressed with from the trailer was how Paddy Holohan looked:

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But sadly he was not playable in the beta so I could not confirm how ridiculous he may or may not have looked.

I did get to practice with Gunnar Nelson however, and I was satisfied with his model considering he (and many other UFC fighters in game) did not have a photo realistic scan performed.

In Summary

The EA Sports UFC 2 beta was definitely a positive experience for me. It was purely a chance to test out the serves and get some reaction on a new game mode, and as the servers were just fine and I really liked the Ultimate Team idea, it has to go down as a win.

I really enjoyed the first game, but after a matter of weeks my interest was gone once I had won the title in career mode and reached the point where the online opponents were simply too good for me. EA Sports knew this was a problem for many, and have tried to address it, but it won't be until we get our hands on the full version before we know if that worked.

Look out for a full review closer to the game's release date, which is penciled in for March.

SEE ALSO: EA Sports UFC 2 Developer Clears Up Confusion Surrounding CM Punk's Overall Rating In Game

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