As someone who has never been in a honest to goodness dust-up in my life, I couldn’t imagine the stones it takes to step into the octagon and face down madmen who could break necks and cash cheques in one motion. Thanks to video games, I can live the dream vicariously through a television screen. UFC has slowly gained momentum under EA’s watchful eye and this third iteration manages to be the most accessible and complete yet, thanks to the inclusions of a lot of EA Sports’ staples — good and bad alike.
Of the combat sports, mixed martial arts has always managed to stand above the others due to being a sort of brutal ballet. A chaotic blend of style, strategy and attrition where swinging for the fences is often as effective as slowing the pace and locking up your foe like a constrictor. While there’s a destructive beauty to the ground game of mixed martial arts, it’s in the explosive stand-up game that I thrive. I go out and swing like a screen door, never having dedicated much time to mastering the ground game in any of UFC 3’s predecessors, which often make taking it to the mat a complicated and frustrating affair. Thanks to a lot of skill challenges and tutorials that hold your hand through some of the game’s more intricate systems, I’m far less reserved in going to ground, quite often shooting for takedowns and making the move to ground and pound.
Submission and defense rely on the same mini-game that pits you against your opponent in a brief fray of anticipation and timing. It’s a bit of a task and I lost a great many matches I was dominating thanks to simply not being able to break out of an opponent’s hold. It’s not impossible to master, but thankfully there’s a simpler option for those less inclined to spend a lot of time becoming as adept on the ground as a Gracie. It devolves the whole affair into a simple button-mash war that does rob submissions of their beauty, but it’s at least accessible.