UFC 3 Review: Even The Best Fighters Aren't Perfect

  • Playstation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Sports
UFC3 Review01
UFC 3 takes some blows to the chin, but comes out the clear champ as best UFC game ever EA/PLAYER.ONE

EA Sports UFC 3 is the best UFC game available today. Everything from gameplay to audio combine into something that UFC fans and gamers alike will love. Although there are a few technical issues, UFC 3 still deserves the Champion’s belt for being the best in the genre.

UFC 3 is a visual knockout. The motion capture, animation, graphics and presentation all feel like you’re actually watching the latest UFC PPV. Fighters bob and weave in the octagon like they do in real life, with commentary that perfectly captures the action in the ring. Thanks to the new approach to motion capture, fighters can now throw blows while moving, adding even more to the realistic look of UFC 3.

UFC 3 looks amazing, and the new Real Player Motion Tech makes fighters more lifelike than ever Photo: EA

Gameplay is (largely) as crisp as the graphics. Punches and kicks have been remapped to the controller face buttons, with the shoulder buttons acting as strike modifiers. This allows for easy combos and specialty moves, like a spinning backfist or a Superman punch, to be thrown at opponents.

During a press event before UFC 3’s release, I was surprised to hear the vast majority of fights in UFC games remain upright and end in knockouts. Few matches seemed to go to the mat and end in submissions. That trend will likely continue with UFC 3, as the submission gameplay seems incredibly tough. AI opponents always seem to escape submission attempts, while you struggle to get free if you find yourself locked up.

Don’t throw too many punches and kicks at once, however, because the biggest opponent in any fight is the stamina bar. This meter is sort of like your health, energy and power all mixed into one. When it runs low, your attacks have no impact and it’s more likely you’ll be knocked down or knocked out. I always seemed to run low on stamina compared to my opponents, but I’m not as familiar with UFC style games as traditional fighters. But even when fighting online against other similarly-skilled players, my stamina seems to drain instantly.

Don't throw too many big punches in a row, or your stamina will disappear Photo: EA

Stamina is also an issue with submission-style fighting. Once you get down on the mat, you use the right stick to maneuver yourself into and out of positions, or to try and lock in a submission move. These movements on the mat rapidly drain your stamina, often leaving you without enough energy to transition into a submission or get yourself into a position to escape from an opponent’s grasp.

Playing online works great, and is surprisingly fast. Every time I’ve looked for a fight, I was matched with an opponent within seconds. There were one or two moments of lag during the matches, but they didn’t have much impact. I may have lost some (many) of the fights, but not because of any internet issues.

However, there is some chugging when playing through the offline career mode. While fighting my way to the top of the division, I encountered progressively more and more sluggishness over the course of my play time, which did get so bad it cost me fights. Turning my console off and coming back later seemed to help the issue, but it’s still not a good sign that extended play sessions may need to be cut short due to these framerate issues.

The career mode could also use a bit more interactivity. I was digging how your created fighter can train and hype up fights by interacting with fans, but I wanted more options to craft a personality or see more of life outside the octagon. The Twitter-style response options are also cool, but the opportunities to do so are too few and far between. It would also be cool to show pre-fight press conferences and give you options on how to respond to questions or interact with your upcoming opponent. Instead all you do is watch clips of the conferences in video packages.

The press conference shots are cool, but imagine if you could decide how you handled yourself instead of watching a cutscene? Photo: EA

That said, the career mode is still fun to go through with a created character or two. The GOAT goals add incentive to try different fighting styles or techniques and give you something to work towards, even if you aren’t in the hunt for a title belt at the time. It’s also cool to hear the commentary team talk about you smashing real-world records as if you were a real fighter in the UFC.

I didn’t take much time exploring the overly complicated UFC Ultimate Team mode. If gamers want to dive into the mode, go ahead, but it seems like a massive money pit for microtransactions and lootboxes. Thankfully, those that don’t want to spend can play any of the other modes without missing out on content. The Ultimate Team microtransactions only affect Ultimate Team gameplay.

UFC 3 is the most polished and best UFC fighting game available today. The presentation, whether it is the TV show-style of the career mode, Snoop Dogg’s commentary on Knockout Mode, or even a regular fight, could fool someone into thinking you’re watching a real UFC event. If you have any interest in UFC, this game is great at introducing the sport for newbies and letting long-time fans flourish. If you don’t have any interest in UFC, UFC 3 is still a fun fighting game, different enough from the Tekkens and Street Fighters to stand as its own game.

UFC 3 is now available for PS4 and Xbox One.

So what do you think? Are you hyped to start playing as your favorite UFC fighter in UFC 3? Have you played the other EA Sports UFC games? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

EA Sports UFC 3
UFC 3 Review: Even The Best Fighters Aren't Perfect
UFC 3 is amazing to watch and fun to play, but there are still a few problems that hold it back from perfection.
  • Amazing graphics and gameplay
  • Presentation feels just like the real thing
  • Framerate issues after long play sessions
  • Career mode doesn't go far enough
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