Game review: UFC 2 is as brutal, skilful and beautiful as cover girl Ronda Rousey

EA Sports’ second attempt at the mixed martial arts genre is a hit thanks to gorgeous graphics, deep and realistic gameplay, and a top-notch presentation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 9:16am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 9:16am


Electronic Arts

4 stars

Well, smack my head and call me Ronda – we didn’t see this coming. Nearly two years after EA first threw its hat into the octagonal ring with a terrible UFC game, they’ve managed to get it right this time with UFC 2.

It’s good! Really good, in fact. MMA has long superseded boxing as the world’s preferred violent pastime and audiences love it not only for its range of beatdowns, but for the sheer complexity of the sport. Skill, tact and timing take precedent over the human bulldozer approach, and the EA folks have refined that particular concept all throughout the gameplay.

Featuring 10 different weight classes, and a dozen fighting styles (judo, tae kwon do, muay Thai, Graeco-Roman), this is far more than your average button-masher. Knowing your fighter and playing to their strengths is a large part of your success, and it took this well-trodden critic a considerable amount of playtime to even stand a chance in the cage, let alone come close to some kind of mastering.

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It helped greatly of course, that the game looks so damn good, and UFC 2’s true-to-life visuals are central to its long-term appeal. Everything from the pay-per-view style of the setting to the true-to-life venues have been recreated in all their glory, and more than anywhere, that sense of precision has been focused firmly on the fighters. Take Ronda Rousey, probably the world’s most recognised fighter – here, each muscle, each expression has been fully captured and translated on its near-photorealistic screen.

That also all ties in brilliantly with the Live Event mode, where players can tap into upcoming on-air fights in a virtual setting, as well as the bolstered Career mode, complete with injuries, distractions and other real-world issues to challenge your journey.

EA’s much-lauded, now likely defunct Fight Night series was the pinnacle of realistic face-smashing, and we’re not saying that UFC 2 has yet taken its place. It’ll take a few more months and a couple of necessary updates before we can truly hand it the throne, but the game sure kicked ass, that’s for sure.