Given the success of franchises like FIFA and Madden, it's easy to see why EA would want to commit valuable resources to developing an MMA title, a sport that's been getting bigger and bigger over the past few years. But the road for creating this new game, dubbed EA Sports UFC, wasn't an easy one. The relationship between UFC President Dana White and EA had its complications a few years ago. Back then, the developer reportedly wasn't interested in making a title for the mixed martial arts company, which is what started the kerfuffle between them. Because of this, UFC eventually hooked up with THQ to create a game, while EA Sports went on to develop its own MMA series. Still, neither of these things lasted too long. And after the unfortunate demise of THQ, EA Sports eventually reached a deal with UFC, granting it licensing rights for the popular MMA league. The by-product? EA Sports UFC.
EA Sport's UFC, which is launching exclusively on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, offers everything you can expect from the big developer of sport titles. If you're familiar with FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25 or, for whatever reason, NBA Live 14, then you're going to feel right at home with the menus and game modes. The tile-based user interface is very simple to browse, and you soon learn that the modes found within the game are quite similar to those on other EA Sports franchises, like the ones mentioned above. There are things such as Fight Now, which quickly lets you jump into a match; Career Mode, wherein you can go from being a nobody to a famous ultimate fighter; and UFC Spotlight, which is a hub that gathers highlight videos from you, friends or the online community. You can also create a character (though only for personal use), challenge friends in what EA is calling Rivalries and do some training to improve your overall skills in the game.
"Our goal was to set a standard for how characters should act and look on next-generation."
So, what about, you know, gameplay? And just how good does it look? Well, we came out pretty impressed. There's no doubt that EA SportsUFC, powered by the Ignite engine, takes full advantage of the graphics power inside Sony's and Microsoft's new consoles. Simply put, it looks fantastic -- for reference, it plays in 1080p at 30fps. In general, the amount of detail you can see within each MMA battle is quite remarkable. You can easily spot a lot of what's going on with your fighter's body and, in some cases, it may even be more than you would have liked to. Muscle flexing? Check. The smallest of chest hairs? Check. Hm, acne? Check. Yes, it's all there for the taking, whether you want it or not. But it's a beautiful scene, in its own magnificent way, and a huge step up from what we've seen in PS3 or Xbox 360 titles. "Our goal was to set a standard for how characters should act and look on next-generation," Brian Hayes, the game's creative director, told us.
Oh, and did we mention Bruce Lee? Yes. Bruce. Lee.
The controls, meanwhile, aren't that complicated, which is good news for someone who just wants to play a fighting game. Much like with EA Sports' Fight Night, it does take a little while to become decent at putting solid combos together. Once you get the hang of it, though, it turns into quite a fun experience -- matches in the octagon are played at a nice pace, but they can end relatively quickly if you're not blocking shots properly. Naturally, part of the experience has to do with the professionals you can use in the game; the rosters include most current UFC fighters plus others like Chuck Liddell. Oh, and did we mention Bruce Lee? Yes. Bruce. Lee.
EA Sports says it'll be working constantly to improve UFC after its release, with expanded rosters and other features like that. The game will be available in the US on June 17th and elsewhere on June 20th.