EA Sports is the victim here. We simply don't appreciate all the hard work they put in. We complain too much. We should all be grateful to have a nice-looking, certifiably functional MMA title on our shiny new consoles.
This has been EA Canada's attitude with EA Sports UFC, which came out in June as a serviceable MMA game that lacked the depth of THQ's Undisputed franchise.
Thanks to the PS4's Share functionality, it has been very easy for gamers to expose EA Sports UFC's many shortcomings, forcing EA Canada's hands to try to fix the mess they've made. They've patched the game twice.
The first one came in July, which added the basic sprawl animation and three additional fighters. It also broke the blocking mechanics, which resulted in rapid stamina drain should the player choose to employ such a ridiculous tactic as blocking incoming strikes.
The second patch came last week and restored the blocking to passable levels and added three more fighters to the roster along with the ability to manually taunt your foe. Of course EA Sports can't leave well enough alone and decided to tinker with the once dynamic health/damage system.
At launch, one of EA Sports UFC's greatest strengths was the moment to moment sense of danger. One well-placed strike was enough to turn things around or end the fight in a knockout. It's the element that makes combat sports unique from all other sports. A fight could end within the first minute of the match or in the last ten seconds of the final round. Anything can happen. That's what MMA is all about.
Thanks to the latest patch, this is no longer the case with EA Sports UFC. The dynamic nature of the fights has been replaced by what essentially is a very long and linear health bar that could take nearly the entire length of the match to deplete.
The "rocked" states--instances where one fighter is visibly wobbly and is one or two shots away from getting separated from his senses, have become extremely rare. When they do occur their duration has been cut dramatically. Especially against the CPU, which has superhuman abilities to parry almost every punch you throw, that means it now takes a small miracle to score a knockout. If knockouts do happen, they almost always occur in the final minute of the very last round.
I waited several days to write this article to make sure I've had more than enough fights to come to a reliable conclusion of what the second patch did. It done did ruin the game, I tell you.
I'm not a hater. In fact I absolutely fell for EA Sports UFC when it first came out. But the truth is, it doesn't stack up to UFC Undisputed 3, which was a labor of love for the ill-fated THQ. They pulled out all the stops and held nothing back with UFC Undisputed 3.
The Pride mode was good enough to be a stand-alone game or at least a DLC, but THQ managed to squeeze it into the same disc. It had numerous game modes and a roster of 150 fighters, the largest in any MMA game to date. The fighter creation suite is deep, letting you manipulate almost every feature of your fighter. You could even design your own tatoos and logos.
All this would mean nothing if the actual fighting isn't up to par, but UFC Undisputed 3 trumps EA Sports UFC in the combat department. The stand-up has that ever-present sense of danger and anything truly can happen at any moment. The grappling is light years ahead of EA Sports UFC's.
Then again, we'd be wrong to demand the same quality from EA Canada. We owe them. They deserve our unconditional worship.