UFC 3

In the days of boxing we always had the classic fall back of gagging about combatants being punched in the ring. Then this UFC thing came along and spoiled all the fun with its fancy-schmancy octagonal arena.

Well, they spoiled the fun of dad jokers everywhere, but the mixture of martial arts with boxing – to oversimplify it significantly – really appealed to the masses.

UFC 2 provided a decent foundation to improve upon – and EA have done so with this third iteration of their series. The most initially obvious thing is the presentational sprucing-up. The animations in UFC 3 really are top notch, and if EA’s claim of over 5,000 new ones being added is indeed true it isn’t hard to believe. It’s a slick, almost televisual affair, with commentators Jon Anik and Joe Rogan not only adding to the realistic atmosphere, but also actually saying stuff that matches what’s going on second-by-second.

You hit the octagon initially as cover star Conor McGregor, the infamous Dubliner who took on boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr in “The Money Fight” last year and walked away somewhere between 30 to 100 million US dollars richer – and he lost! It’s not quite as lavish affair here, as you go fantasy match with US fighter Tony Ferguson, which provides an intro to basic moves – and that lovely style-stuffed presentation.

With MMA being a (perhaps) surprisingly complex sport, naturally things aren’t as simple as kick and punch. There are variations on those two from basic hits to upper cuts and way beyond, then there are the subtleties of grapples and takedowns – and the controls to master. Oh, and don’t forget to watch your stamina, or you’ll be throwing punches that would make Monty Burns blush. UFC 3 is no mash-and-she’ll-be-right-mate game – it requires strict strategy and patience just to learn its intricacies, let alone to master them. Mercifully, at least, the uninitiated can work their way through a comprehensive sea of tutorials.

UFC 3

Modes abound, of which the star attraction for many will be the “Greatest of All Time” – or “G.O.A.T.” career. Choose gender, customise your very own fighter’s looks and abilities (or use a pre-existing one if you’re lazy/busy) and work your way from the minor leagues through to the big time, balancing various training types and time spent on them, as well as big-noting yourself on the promo trail. Yep, just like real life hitting the socials and gaining followers counts in the popularity – and bucks – stakes.

“Knockout Mode” applies the K.I.S.S. principle, eschewing all the technicalities like grappling for pure biffo. Oh, and Snoop Dogg provides the commentary – damn! “Stand and Bang” has nothing to do with a quick hook-up in the lavatories, instead being five rounds of all strikes and no ground play. Like that latter stuff? You’ll want “Submission Showdown”, which is essentially the grappling version of S&B.

Elsewhere, “Fight Now” allows you to control pretty much every variable in creating truly bespoke fights, while “Tournament Mode” is a king of the hill, last man standing thing.

Then there’s “Ultimate Team”, which will likely divide fans. It’s the microtransaction central of the game – mercifully the only place where they occur – where in-game points or real moolah can be exchanged for card packs. Still, it only takes around half a dozen or so bouts to afford a decent pack, but it’s not our thing. At least we scored a free Bruce Lee for owning UFC 2, though. MMMmmm, free Lee!

With its top-notch presentation and rewards for perseverance, ultimately UFC 3 is the closest many will ever get to punching somebody in the rin- ARGH! Damn you, octagon!

EA Sports’ UFC 3 is available now on PS4 and Xbox One.

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