EA Sports UFC 5 Review
After a 3-year hiatus, EA steps back into the octagon with the aim to deliver its most realistic iteration of the sport to date. Rebuilt on the Frostbite engine, UFC 5 is a visual knockout, however, it’s the improvements to each aspect of the fight that make this a main event-worthy contest.
Due to the dynamic lighting system, the big fight feel is present in matches. Sweat makes fighters glisten and blood trickles down athletes to stain the canvas. The atmosphere is palpable and immerses you in the match. Because of the number of ways to attack, you must figure out your adversary’s weak point and take advantage of it. This leads to a violent chess match as each competitor strives to defend, counter and attack.
Refinements to the stand-up gameplay improve on an already solid foundation. New animations give character to each athlete to make them feel distinct. This also leads to smoother combinations that make you feel like a pro. Adjustments with the controls make it easier to switch strike types which allows you to vary your onslaught in an intuitive manner.
Attacking a particular area is key in the world of MMA. If you focus your attack, you can stifle your opponent’s game plan, making them alter their approach. This element of the sport is now a big feature in the UFC 5. Whereas you could previously attack a limb, you can aim at particular areas to expose cuts and inflict further damage. The attention to detail with this is incredible as wounds evolve and morph the face of the fighter realistically. These don’t just have visual ramifications, they also affect the stats. For example, a broken nose can make it difficult for the brawler to breathe therefore hindering their stamina. Due to this, you will need to adapt to protect injuries and alter your methods on the fly. If you continue to pulverize a location, this can cause a doctor’s stoppage which broadens the ways to claim victory.
A Deep Cut
As much as delivering damage is important, so is avoiding it. Due to this, evasion is key. Adjustments to head movement and footwork allow you to quickly slip in and out of your opponent’s range. Your jab is now a defensive and offensive maneuver. While you can obviously use this to set up strikes and takedowns, it’s also an excellent retreating attack. If your foe’s goal is to close the distance and use the clinch, you can use your jab to disrupt this which gives you the opportunity to escape. Although in solitude these may seem minor, together they improve the stand-up gameplay to make this the closest simulation of the sport.
Finishing the fight is always a thrill and UFC 5’s new cinematic replays accentuate the visceral nature of this. Similar to the Fight Night series, knockouts feature a super slow-motion replay that highlights each drop of blood and sweat. The ripple of cheeks and the ragdoll fall to the canvas never gets old and adds that much-needed impact that was missing on previous releases.
Submissions have always been a weak spot with the UFC titles. Upon sinking in a choke, a minigame would appear which removed you from the gameplay. UFC 5 tackles this with its new ‘Seamless Submission’ system which keeps you immersed in the groundwork. A new submission meter appears near the health bar to indicate the effectiveness of your attempt and allows you to decide whether to stick with this or transition into another. Certain moves can be chained which increases the effectiveness of the submission too. A range of controls are also available to support accessing the ground game. Legacy, assisted and hybrid controls are available which opens up grappling and mat work for players of any level.
True to Life
Character models are much more varied than before. The body and face of Each fighter look like their real-life counterpart which helps match-ups look closer to the sport. Each individual’s hair has been animated to give a lifelike feel to fighters that don a range of styles. The camera is intimate which captures the impact of each strike and allows you to use distance to lure your opponent. On the odd occasion, the camera spiraled out of control and lost focus on the fight. Although this was irregular, it happened and could result in losing the advantage in that position.
Outside the octagon, you can take part in a full career mode which sees you climb the ranks with the guidance of Coach Davis to go from backyard fights to headline UFC cards. The journey is well told with cinematics that add drama to key moments in your career. You will meet and train with stars of the sport allowing you to personalize your character’s fighting style. The mode includes a great tutorial that allows you to learn the nuances of each element of MMA. From Brazillian Ju-Jitsu groundwork to Wrestling takedowns, you have the opportunity to mold your fighter into the style that you wish. Unfortunately, the actual tutorial is not as informative and only includes a simple practice and information about each aspect.
It’s Evolution Baby
You can now continue your avatar’s evolution via the Online Career. Similar to Ranked Matches, you’ll face people online, move up divisions and chase the title. You can also continue your character’s growth by adding new abilities and upgrading their stats. This is a great way to expand the longevity of your fighter’s career by competing against other creations online. You can unlock new gear for your avatar by earning coins. A great way to do so is through the Fight Week Contracts. Here you can take part in daily battles that differ in difficulty and will offer up rewards.
Although not available during the review period, Fight Picks allows you to predict outcomes of real-life events and earn more coins. In addition to this, there are also Fight Week Challenges which allow you to take part in tasks to unlock customization items and Alter Egos. The variant version of the fighter is from a different stage in their career and includes stats relevant to that point in time. This opens up a ton of possibilities and hopefully, EA capitalize on this. Linking real and virtual world events is a great idea and could extend the life of the game. With all of this and the different match types in Quick Fight, the game has a ton of content!
UFC 5 is the best release in the franchise. The new submission system is a massive improvement on previous iterations and the cinematic knockouts never get old. Tweaks in the combat create a nuanced system that opens up a range of options to attack. Although I did encounter the odd camera issue and the game could use a mission-based tutorial, each aspect in the octagon has been thoughtfully designed to replicate the sport.
***A PlayStation 5 key was provided by the publisher***
- Improvements in the Submission System
- Nuanced Stand-Up Game
- Cinematic Replays
- Odd Camera Glitch
- Bare Bones Tutorial
- Still Missing Pride FC