EA Sports UFC 3 is a mixed martial arts fighting game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. UFC 3 is an official videogame representation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) which originated in November 1993 having since became a worldwide phenomenon in the sports industry. UFC has a longstanding affinity with videogames dating as far back as 2000 when Ultimate Fighting Championship released on Dreamcast before being ported to PS1 which was the beginning of a series published by Crave Entertainment that continued onto PS2, while THQ published the UFC Undisputed series on PS3 before EA Sports obtained the rights to UFC videogames in which their first game was released on PS4 in June 2014 before a sequel released in March 2016. Can EA Sports’ UFC 3 set the new benchmark for quality and realism in UFC gaming?
The game starts out with a fantasy event between Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson in the lightweight division with multiple titles on the line. The opening match is essentially a massive tutorial showcasing how to perform punches and kicks to various areas of the upper body, lower body and legs, alongside defence, stamina and controlling takedowns throughout five rounds that are in accordance with UFC title fights 5 minutes in length per round.
Career mode begins with your choice of importing the likeness of a fighter from any weight division or creating a customised fighter to fight as throughout career mode which is a great gameplay design choice as you can model the fighter on yourself or a particular person or you could select a fighter who is just starting out in their UFC career such as CM Punk. When you have chosen your fighter; the player experiences a passionate prologue showing the hard work that has to be invested day in day out to progress anywhere in the world of mixed martial arts. In a gritty, realistic tone that applies to any fighter’s career; the player does not begin their fighting career in the UFC instead starting out with signing an entry level contract in the minor leagues at a company named World Fighting Alliance. A video montage of UFC President Dana White informs the player that he will venture to anywhere in the world to find the next major star of UFC; therefore adding strong credence to any of the lower tier mixed martial arts promotions that are not as established as UFC, but could prove to be a valuable platform for the next top fighter of tomorrow. As your fighter wins matches, you will gain more fans, earn contract cash rewards, win bonuses, a potential performance bonus and much more besides with better contracts gradually promoting your fighter through the ranks. Your fighter’s perks and fighting moves can be improved and upgraded, while your fighter’s physical conditioning can be made superior by putting time into a training camp at the fighter’s private gym located in their basement, although training at a public gym has an increasing cost based upon the quality of the gym’s training equipment. After a few wins in the World Fighting Alliance, it is your chance to impress and work your way through the ranks of the UFC due to earning a rookie contract, although that is accompanied by everything from social media communication with sports presenters to battling it out in unfolding bitter rivalries. From then onwards, it is up to the player to take that opportunity, progress through the ranks and never look back in an attempt to achieve the ultimate goal in mixed martial arts by becoming the greatest of all time.
Outside of career mode, there are numerous gameplay modes. Fight Now allows the player to create a match to participate in or to watch two A.I. controlled fighters by quickly selecting a preferred fighter and opponent followed by choosing an arena, difficulty level, 3 or 5 rounds or championship fight type, accelerated or real-time clock speed and a simplified or non-simplified submission. Meanwhile, Custom Fight Now has all of the previous options of Fight Now, while simultaneously introducing advanced settings including enabling or disabling perks, stamina and CPU stamina recovery, health and CPU health recovery, grapple advantage and competitive HUD, alongside adjusting stamina and CPU stamina cost, damage and CPU damage, transition and CPU transition speed and submission and CPU submission speed.
Knockout mode provides the opportunity to have a twist on the Fight Now options as the player can also choose an alternative fight type referred to as sudden death in which one bar of health is deducted from the fighter who has a punch or kick landed on him or her by their opponent, adjusting the health of the fighter in the red and blue corner from anywhere between 1 to 12 bars as well as selecting TV broadcast commentary or alternative commentary. However, it must be stated that the alternative commentary would have been better served by having someone genuinely relevant to mixed martial arts such as Chuck Norris guest starring instead of a rapper.
Stand and Bang changes up the gameplay completely by removing takedowns, grappling and submission holds in order to place focus on punches and kicks in all-out fighting action fests. Meanwhile, Submission Showdown is the opposite to Stand and Bang as all punches and kicks are removed in favour of takedowns, grappling and submission holds, although in the scenario of neither fighter being able to make their opponent tap out, a tie-breaker is introduced for one fighter to lock in their hold, while the other fighter attempts to prevent the hold from becoming tighter with the tie-breaker then reversing roles in offence and defence until one of the fighters has successfully locked in their submission hold.
Tournament mode allows the player to create a unique single night tournament bracket starting from the last 8 in the quarter finals or a longer tournament beginning in the round of 16 comprising of a customised tournament name, a tournament type between stand up for a rule set involving no grappling or ground game or all-round MMA, a combined or strict weight class type, a specific weight class, damage continuity in which a fighter that has incurred cuts, bruises and wounds will retain those injuries over the course of the night’s tournament when enabled, a chosen difficulty level for A.I. controlled fighters, 3 or 5 round matches, an accelerated or real-time clock speed, the arena hosting the tournament and enabling or disabling skip transitions.
Custom events allows the player to create their unique fight card comprising of a customised event name, a chosen difficulty level for A.I. controlled fighters, a fight card length of anywhere from 1 to 11 fights and a choice from any of the 11 arenas. The player also has the ability to automatically fill the fight card with fighters from various weight divisions or choose the specifics of which fighters, 3 or 5 round matches, if a championship belt is on the line, who the referee is and strict or combined weight classes for each fight within the fight card, while having the chance to save the fight card and return to it another time.
UFC Ultimate Team mode takes a leaf from EA Sports’ FIFA franchise by allowing players to assemble their favourite fighters into one triumphant team through gathering together enough points to collect the fighters you want to draft into your team before levelling them up step by step to as high as level 150.
Skill challenges allows the player to visit the gym with a trainer guiding your fighter in order to improve upon their striking, wrestling and ground manoeuvres in a series of challenges including defence tactics, range striking, cage control, heavybag damage; clinch control, takedown defence and offence; top and bottom drills and submission defence and offence. For instance, defence tactics sees the player attempting to block head and body shots from a sparring partner in which you must reduce your opponent’s landed shots to less than 5 within 30 seconds, while range striking tasks you to hit your sparring partner inside the designated range to accumulate 300 points within 1 minute. Skill challenges is an excellent design choice as it is a highly effective set of tutorials that provide a genuine feeling of how it would be for a mixed martial artist to practice in a multitude of sparring sessions in the gym; even to the realism of having a variety of other fighters training throughout the gym.
Practice mode allows two fighters to be chosen, alongside such A.I. behaviour as strike recording, inert, basic and skilled defence, basic and skilled striking, basic and skilled ground game and basic and skilled free sparring with the options of health, stamina and simple submissions. In practice mode, a player can take control of the opponent to record moves that will aid you in learning how to improve your defence and counter your opposing fighter’s offence. Practice mode is complimented by a full suite of moves, submissions and grappling tutorials that is a major help in guiding a player to efficiently utilising their chosen fighter and their unique fighting style.
UFC 3 contains an incredibly strong fighter roster from the past and present throughout 10 weight divisions comprising of women’s strawweight including Joanna Jędrzejczyk; women’s bantamweight including Ronda Rousey; men’s flyweight including Demetrious Johnson; men’s bantamweight including Dominick Cruz; men’s featherweight including Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar; men’s lightweight including Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson; men’s welterweight including BJ Penn, Donald Cerrone, Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler; men’s middleweight including Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Michael Bisping and Robert Whittaker; men’s light heavyweight including Chuck Liddell, Daniel Cormier, Forrest Griffin and Rampage Jackson; and men’s heavyweight including Stipe Miocic; and many more fighters besides. Every fighter in all 10 weight divisions has their statistics based upon their respective performances up to the release of UFC 3 including striking, grappling, stamina and health that presents a gameplay mechanic in which players will have to think about their fighting style in relation to the fighter they choose. For instance, a player who wants to be aggressive with punches and kicks when standing up requires strong striking and stamina capabilities, while a player looking to inflict submission holds will look to a fighter with strong grappling and stamina.
Bruce Lee is unlocked automatically as a playable fighter in the bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisions for players who already own previous UFC games in the EA Sports series or alternatively as a rather fitting reward for completing career mode on any difficulty level and being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Create fighter mode allows players to construct a male or female fighter from any of the 10 weight divisions in any of five styles including a striker’s strike speed, strike stamina, head movement and footwork; a brawler’s power, blocking, heart and chin; a balanced fighter’s well-rounded, good striking, submissions and wrestling; a grappler’s takedowns, endurance, clinch grapple and throws; or a submission specialist’s submission offence, top game, grapple stamina and submission defence. Fighter customisation for your created fighter is quite extensive including your fighter’s general info such as first and last name, nickname, social media handle, home town, age, weight class, weight and height, while the appearance category provides numerous options to change how your fighter looks with presets, hair, head, eyes, body, skin, tattoos and fight gear, alongside the ability to fully adapt your fighter’s stats, perks and fighting moves in addition to cultivating your fighter’s approach to fights through their personality, ring entrance music, posture, taunts and stance. Create fighter mode most certainly provides ample opportunity for players to be creative in building an all-new fighter from the ground up.
Environment design includes 11 arenas that have actually hosted major UFC events such as MGM Grand in Las Vegas; Honda Center in Anaheim, California; Prudential Center in New Jersey; Toyota Center in Houston, Texas; Madison Square Garden in New York; Air Canada Centre in Toronto; Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; United Center in Chicago; O2 Arena in London, England; and Saitama Super Arena in Japan. Every arena provides the sensation of fighting in front of a full capacity attendance to each stadium’s varying maximum quota of attendees which is not an easy atmosphere to pull off, but UFC 3’s environment design embraces the approach of different cultures towards mixed martial arts with expert precision.
Camera angles in the pre-fight build-up and post-fight announcements are exactly as UFC fans would anticipate from TV coverage, while gameplay camera angles include medium, tight, classic and wide that pan the camera and follow the fighters differently in as authentic fashion as official UFC broadcasts during their fights.
If you want a portable UFC game instead of remote play, then the only alternative is from the previous UFC videogame series published by THQ titled UFC: Undisputed 2010 on PSP; otherwise portable gamers will have to settle for the consolation of remote play. UFC 3’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio, controls and general performance retains the quality of the PS4 version. There are no control optimisations as the body modifier and blocking naturally moves to the top left and right of the rear touch pad respectively, while switching stance is also mapped to the bottom right of the rear touch pad by default. However, the lack of control optimisation can be forgiven due to the fact that important elements of the control scheme including technical and signature modifiers are mapped to L and R respectively, while the potential of re-mapping anything from the rear touch pad to the touch screen in such a technical fighting game could have possibly been more problematic as the player would need to utilise both analogue sticks at times. UFC 3’s remote play experience is actually comfortable to control; therefore making it just as playable as it is on PS4.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the basics of the stand up control scheme consisting of pressing square to throw a left punch; pressing triangle to throw a right punch; pressing X to perform a left leg kick; pressing O to perform a right leg kick; holding L1, L2 or R1 while throwing a punch or performing a kick to apply a technical, body or signature modifier respectively; holding R2 to block opposing punches and kicks to the upper body; holding R2 and L2 simultaneously to block opposing punches and kicks to the lower body; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to manoeuvre your fighter around the cage; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move your fighter’s head; pressing R3 to switch stance; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Stand up controls branch out to covering takedowns, grapple defence, clinch and basic striking with combos, while clinch controls span takedowns, advance positioning, defensive positioning and striking, alongside advance positioning, defensive positioning and ground and pound within the ground control scheme. Vibration reflects powerful strikes dealt by your fighter and inflicted upon your fighter, while the light bar usually displays yellow, although in local multiplayer reflects the corner your fighter is situated in between rounds; however there is no touch pad implementation which could have been utilised as an alternative to the right analogue stick when performing takedowns, grappling and submission holds.
Graphically, UFC 3 produces lifelike representations of an extensive amount of fighters and referees, while Bruce Buffer is as animated and a showman in pre-fight introductions and post-fight result announcements, alongside UFC president Dana White strapping the belt around a champion’s waist and even the detail of having Bruce Buffer, Dana White, all of the round by round scoring judges and TV broadcast commentary team Jon Anik and Joe Rogan sitting at ringside watching the action unfold within the octagon to a backdrop of a rapturous crowd in a giant arena. There are some incredibly realistic graphical effects such as blood splatter and bruising when injuries have been inflicted to either fighter. Character models are astonishingly accurate as every punch, kick, takedown, grapple, clinch and submission hold look exactly as they do in the real life TV coverage, while every character and fighter actually has realistic expression and movement in their eyes which is particularly on show during big fight ring entrances. Furthermore the realism is to a point that too many leg kicks inflicted in a certain area of the leg will result in the fighter limping, bruising, not being able to kick with that leg and potentially having the fight stopped due to lack of movement, while facial expressions show signs of pain after taking a heavy punch or kick to any area of the face, body or legs and in reaction to blood obscuring their vision.
UFC 3 certainly boasts slick and polished presentation that is very appropriate to the subject matter and nature of the game as some of the world’s best mixed martial artists are showcased in dramatic slow motion behind each menu. The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, fight modes menus, career mode menus, create fighter menus, UFC Ultimate Team menus, tutorials menus, tournament mode menus, online multiplayer menus, skill challenges menus, various gameplay menus and more besides with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad and right analogue stick. Every menu is extended outwards and brought to the forefront when highlighted on the main menu, while the loading screens provide helpful tips and reminders of certain gameplay mechanics and individual control elements.
Pre-fight announcing by Bruce Buffer followed by an official rules introduction from referee Herb Dean, Dan Miragliotta, Yves Lavigne and Mario Yamasaki, while TV broadcast quality commentary from Jon Anik and Joe Rogan tells the tale of the tape and calls all the action, alongside trainers shouting instructions to their fighter during the fight. Sound effects include fighters performing moves on each other and ambience such as crowd chants to support their favourite fighter including chants of “GSP” for Georges St-Pierre and a football style chant in support of Conor McGregor, applause and gasps for a frenetic back and forth fight or booing if both fighters stand off each other for too long, alongside gym ambience in which you can hear other fighters training and communicating. The soundtrack for some reason is almost entirely hip-hop and rap instead of evenly catering for multiple genres; as someone who prefers more melodic rock music, I promptly turned the dial to 0 and if you are not into the majority of hip-hop or rap music, then you will do the same. I yearn for the days of EA’s classic soundtracks such as Return Fire and Road Rash that really added something to the experience. There is no DualShock 4 speaker which could have produced any number of specific ambient or voice-over related sounds such as the audience reaction, commentary, the referee, your corner’s trainers or perhaps even to signify the ten seconds warning towards the end of each round and the bell to inform the end of the round.
The trophy list includes 33 trophies with 16 bronze trophies, 12 silver trophies, 4 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the UFC 1: The Beginning bronze trophy for completing the fantasy event tutorial and the UFC 3: The American Dream bronze trophy for signing a rookie contract during your career. Harder trophies include the UFC 44: Undisputed gold trophy for becoming the greatest of all-time during your career and the UFC 109: Relentless gold trophy for earning your green belt in UFC Ultimate Team for reaching level 150. There are some online multiplayer trophies that should be able to be attained within any offline mode as they are more relevant to fighting skills including the UFC 80: Rapid Fire bronze trophy for landing a four-hit combination; the UFC 35: Throwdown bronze trophy for finishing the fight with a submission; the UFC 101: Declaration silver trophy for triggering a health event on the opponent within 10 seconds of your taunt; the UFC 46: Supernatural silver trophy for swaying to avoid 6 strikes in 20 seconds; and the UFC 99: The Comeback gold trophy for surviving at least two health events before winning the fight, although there are further online multiplayer trophies too. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 50 to 100 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are five difficulty levels including easy, normal, hard, pro and legendary with the major differences between each difficulty your A.I. opponent’s increased aggressiveness, damage dealt to your fighter, improved defensive blocking and more efficient takedowns and grappling. Legendary difficulty is an unlockable in career mode after becoming the greatest of all time during career mode on any difficulty level resulting in the fighter HUD being disabled and no longer having the ability to restart fights. Elsewhere, every skill challenge has three difficulty levels including normal, hard and pro in which the player has to increase the quality of their performance such as blocking more shots or striking the sparring partner on more occasions to accumulate a lower or higher points quantity depending on defence or offence related skill challenges.
Local multiplayer supports 2 players with superb graphical fidelity and performance. In a rather refreshing change of pace for EA Sports and EA in general; every single player mode is fully playable in local multiplayer including fight now, custom fight now, knockout mode, stand and bang, submission showdown, tournament mode and custom events.
Online multiplayer supports 2 players with a similar quality of performance to that of single player or local multiplayer in which you will undoubtedly have no problem finding a match to participate in for as long as the online servers are functional as there are usually thousands of players online simultaneously in UFC 3. Ranked championships provide the opportunity for players to choose their favourite UFC fighters to compete in matches against other players to gradually improve your rating and progress onto higher divisions. Entering fight now within ranked championships allows the chance to select your preferred weight class to start matchmaking, while you can alternatively choose one of five daily featured fighters. Players complete 10 placement fights to determine their player rating as winning fights increases player rating and progression towards higher divisions. The major emphasis of ranked championships is for players to win 3 consecutive fight now matches to attain contender status before winning the big title fight to become a champion followed by a continued focus on defending your championship belt with a winning streak.
Live events offer a somewhat different element of participation in what is essentially a more technical variant of fantasy football; as players predict the results of fights on an upcoming real-world UFC fight card to earn rewards for Ultimate Team mode. 500 reward points are earned for predicting the winner, 250 points for method such as KO or TKO, 500 points for correctly choosing method and specific round the fight will be stopped before attempting to earn 500 bonus points by winning the match with your chosen fighter. Ultimate Team rewards involve 500 points earning a basic pack, while 2,500 points produces a premium pack and 3,000 points results in an event pack.
Online quick fight allows players to search for 3 or 5 round matches within any of the 10 weight divisions in which you can choose a fighter or have the optional possibility of being able to utilise or compete against a created fighter, while players can invite friends to their own online lobby.
Fighternet provides a full overview of your performances and accolades in ranked championships and Ultimate Team throughout all 10 weight divisions in the form of KOs, TKOs and submission wins and losses, quickest wins and losses, alongside such statistics as the amount of titles won, longest defence, current defence, total attempted strikes and takedowns and more besides.
EA Sports UFC 3’s replayability originates from the unpredictability of fight results as is the case in every sport, but especially in UFC throughout the significant quantity of single player, local multiplayer and online multiplayer game modes. Elsewhere, there is a huge male and female fighter roster across all 10 weight divisions, the ability to create your own fighter, 11 real-world arenas to fight at and a career mode that captures what it is to be starting out as an MMA fighter looking to rise through the ranks. There really is a huge amount of replay value throughout every mode and gameplay mechanic that will have players returning for dozens of hours worth of action in the octagon as their favourite fighter or a created fighter. However, it would have been amazing to see more of an emphasis on pre-fight weigh-ins for a greater amount of championship title fights and Joe Rogan’s traditional post-fight interviews to complete the entire package of UFC’s TV style broadcasting.
- Title: EA Sports UFC 3
- Developer: EA Canada
- Publisher: EA Sports
- System: PS4
- Format: Retail/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1-2 (Local Multiplayer)/2 (Online Multiplayer)
- Hard Drive Space Required: 20.77GB (Version 1.01)