|System: PS4, Xbox One|
|Dev: EA Canada|
|Release: February 2, 2018|
|Players: 1-2 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence, Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes|
I made my way through UFC 3’s career mode as a striker, taking my Ls when mis-matched against grapplers (or spamming the reset option), but more often gleefully ending match after match in the first round with my inhuman fists. I was champion in no time, and even apparently the owner of a pretty successful video game stream channel. While Madden 18 has its Hollywood-style Longshot gimmick all to itself for now, UFC 3 has more in common with NBA Live 18 in its stilted, fake social media feeds and sterile menus. But I found myself motivated to keep going, with an added element of time management making me choose how to spend time between fights helping built the anticipation of an increasing ladder of challenges. With each new contract came a jump in AI toughness; by the end, the stakes felt high and the knockouts even more vital to the experience.
After I spent time in the career mode, I hopped over to Ultimate Team, a staple of the EA Sports line. In this mode, you dump coins into random card packs, which nets you roster additions, temporary bonuses, moves, and stat boosts. With these cards, you put together a deck of sorts and fight online either against other players or CPU versions of other players in a single-player alternative. You earn division points and climb the ranks, along with currency to buy more packs. This cycle continues in perpetuity until, ideally, you’re sitting pretty with a team full of gold.
There are other UFC 3 game modes, such as the usual standard on and offline quick matches, as well as a few other gimmicks such as knockout, which takes my fighting game approach to the logical extreme. But Ultimate Team seems to be the main attraction in terms of emphasis and depth. I just wish it wasn’t such a grind, with card packs clearly being designed to take a long time to unlock. Microtransactions rear their ugly head yet again, but being isolated to the one mode means they can slip by more inconspicuously.
UFC 3 feels the most like a video game in the pool of big sports simulations. Being a one-on-one combat sim, it still feels like you’re at the mercy of your own ability even though there are stats. A punch is a punch, and while some chins are more durable than others, patience and care can help you overcome the odds. It feels like a different kind of fighting game for folks interested in real-life martial arts, with a cumbersome grappling system and some branded bumbling with numbers and menus to appeal to the core audience. UFC 3 is fun and exciting, and I can see it acting as a potential entry point for its real-life counterpart.