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EA Sports UFC PS4 demo: The comprehensive list of pros and cons

The demo for EA Sports UFC is here and we have less than two weeks to hone our skills before the full game hits retail on June 17th. I've been playing UFC Undisputed 3 for over two years and I found it a real challenge to shake off old habits.

The biggest hurdle for me has been the major/minor transitions of the UFC Undisputed games. Muscle memory is a tough foe to overcome, but after a few fights I slowly began to adjust to EA Sports UFC's combat system.

It's far from perfect but it seems well on its way to officially becoming the best MMA game to date, hands down. The final test will be how unique each fighter feels, how closely their styles resemble their real life counterparts and whether or not each match falls into a predictable pattern.

Based on the fighters in the demo, Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson, EA Sports UFC is the real deal. Jones and Gustafsson felt unique enough and the matches played out differently each time.

The take away is that the stand-up in EA Sports UFC is the best I've seen in an MMA game, but the grappling, while fluid and responsive, is a bit limited, particularly the clinch game. Plus, the cage positions are not as diverse as they were in UFC Undisputed 3.

PROS

  • Striking is fluid. Strikes flow together provided that you throw logical, realistic combos. You have a great degree of freedom and control over your strikes.
  • No "juggling." You don't get "trapped" in your opponent's combos. You can always defend yourself from the follow up strike.
  • Not based on frame advantage. Arcade mentality won't get you far, as physics and power come into play. Your weak, pokey punches aren't going to prevent that massive overhand right from exploding on your face.
  • Defense is excellent. You have weak blocks, strong high/low blocks, parries, sways and stepping. You can block while moving, meaning you no longer have to leave yourself wide open when you're trying to circle or step out of range.
  • Great mobility and footwork. Fighters no longer wear the cement shoes from previous UFC games and move around the octagon with ease.
  • Dynamic KO's. EA may have found the perfect balance between unpredictability and proper execution. Knockouts can come unexpectedly yet don't feel random.
  • Stamina system is near perfect, forcing players to use realistic tactics or else suffer immediate consequences.
  • Submission mini-game is a lot easier on the eyes than UFC Undisputed 3's.
  • Ground transition animations are articulate and readable, allowing the player to react accordingly.

CONS

  • Clinching feels stiff. There's no push/pull mechanic. Once a clinch is initiated, you're stuck on one spot. You can't drive your opponent to the fence unless you're within a certain distance from it.
  • There's no scooting around when both fighters are grappling on the ground. Like the standing clinch, you're stuck on one spot. You can't push the bottom fighter in any direction.
  • Jon Jones' AI felt uncharacteristically and overly aggressive.
  • There's no swaying on the ground and strike defense is not as reliable as the stand-up's.
  • Controls for diving punch towards the fighter on the ground are not responsive, often times causing you to swing in the air rather than down at your opponent.
  • No takedown struggle; either you stuff it immediately or you get taken down.
  • Swaying takes up too much stamina during the stand-up.
  • No proper feinting mechanic (though the sways could almost function as feints)
  • During ground and pound, buttons no longer seem to be mapped to the appropriate hand.
  • Can you reverse transitions on the ground? Tutorial leaves plenty to be desired, leaving out standard moves like swaying, posturing up and Muay Thai whips.