UFC has ventured into the world of video games once more with UFC 3 on PS4 and Xbox One, and to start off with, the presentation in this game is utterly brilliant. When it comes to a realistic framing of the sport, EA Canada has done a wonderful job, and everything from the loading screens to the menus, from the career paths to the commentators, has been caught with a crispness that few other sports games can compete with. To a certain extent, it feels almost real when our fighter battles inside the Octagon for his first fight. There's plenty of quality here, ranging from great graphics to decent music, clever use of Joe Rogan's iconic voice, and the increased presence of UFC-kingpin Dana White. The atmosphere is just superb and it really, truly feels like the UFC.
Another aspect that has gotten better is the striking portion of UFC 3, as EA Canada has finally worked on the animation system, which now makes it possible to hit and kick while actually circling left or right. The fact that this didn't work in the previous EA UFC games says quite a bit about how incredibly rigid the entire striking system really was. In UFC 3, the fighting still feeling somewhat stiff and robotic, but it's not as bad as it was in the previous two games, as 5,000 new animations have been added. When you're competing as some of the most iconic names to grace the Octagon (McGregor, Anderson Silva, TJ Dillashaw, Mighty Mouse, Luke Rockhold, Nate Diaz - among others), it's nice to see how hard the team at EA Canada has worked to really capture their different styles, special attacks, and individual movements.
However, we still wouldn't call this an MMA-simulator, or even agree with EA that the game simulates real fighting inside the Octagon, because it just doesn't. The very best fighters inside the UFC today are all geniuses when it comes to mixing loads of different techniques and stringing together moves from loads of different styles, from striking and kicks to clinch-fighting, something that's damn hard if not impossible inside this game, even with the new animations. In this sense, EA's UFC game still feels a bit primitive. After all, it's all about the fighting and the combos.
In addition, the transitions from striking to the ground still feel awkward and stiff, which one might argue should have been the main focus for EA Canada instead of all the different game modes they have put in this time around. This part of the experience never feels natural, not even after trying to get really good at it for hours and hours. For instance, look at the former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez who - when he's not injured - has been absolute master when it comes to stringing together his impressive pressure-style of striking with these amazing takedowns, wrestling, and ground-and-pound. None of that seamless transitioning between disciplines and fighting styles can be found in UFC 3.
The submission part is just like many other aspects of UFC 3: it's unchanged. It's still the same tired mini-game with the same focus on chance instead of skill and actual training/patience, something that makes the grappling part feel pretty hopeless. While well-known ground wizards like Demian Maia, Jacare, and Nate Diaz describe the ground fighting aspect of MMA as a "human chess game" where you always have to predict and defend against the opponent's attacks while preparing your own and laying down so-called "traps", the submissions inside UFC 3 feel more like a bad mobile game.