EA Sports UFC 4 – Review

Release Date
August 14, 2020
Electronic Arts
EA Vancouver
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on
Review copy provided by
Electronic Arts

There are plenty of fighting games in the market whose flair is being flashy and stylish. They would have you stringing along with your combos and juggling opponents midair that they often veer far into fantasy territory when it comes to the application of martial arts. UFC 4 isn’t at all anything like that as this latest fighting game from EA aims to be much closer to reality than others of its genre.

You might be wondering if UFC 4 is for you, while now that can depend entirely on your taste you should know that the game comes with its own ups and downs. Even as somebody who isn’t all too familiar with Ultimate Fighting Championship, this game had more than enough to offer to suck me into its many modes and dynamic fighting mechanics.

So stick around and find out what this game has to offer. Even if you hadn’t sampled the previous entries of this franchise, the 4th installment of UFC might just be enough to sway your opinion.

What exactly makes UFC 4 different from all the other fighting games? Well, the answer to that is in its dynamic fighting system that aims to simulate real-life MMA as much as it is capable of. If you’ve seen videos of MMA fighting, then you’d have an idea what this game is trying to bring you closer to.

However, as fun and dynamic the game’s fighting system can be there is a bit of a difficult learning curve if you’re new. It can be a bit complex enough to potentially turn you away from what it has to offer. But if you’re willing to invest, you’ll find a rich and versatile fighting game that offers a lot of fun but challenging experiences. So if you’re looking for a new kind of fighting game to try out, then UFC 4 just might be for you.

To start with, I mentioned that the fighting in UFC 4 is dynamic and complex. That’s because no fight is ever going to be as simple as stringing combos along and hoping to get lucky. Here, being overly aggressive can be counterproductive in the long run.

Each fighter in the roster or the one you create for yourself will have their own specialties that change the way you play. Boxers specialize in lightning-fast hand to hand. Kickboxers lean towards more devastating but slower kicks. And wrestlers and jiu-jitsu specialists limit and control the opponent’s capabilities and movement.

This forces you to adapt to a certain strategy in order to gain an advantage in fights. If you’re facing up against a boxer, use kicks to keep them out of arms reach. If you’re fighting against kickboxers, tackle them to the ground. And if you’re fighting against a wrestler, use your fists to deny them a grapple. However, fighting isn’t as simple as I made it sound like UFC 4 is far from a rock-paper-scissors contest. You’ll be struggling to memorize your opponent’s tendencies and making sure that they don’t control the fight.

Artificial intelligence is surprisingly impressive here. There are multiple difficulties to choose from that change the way they adapt to your fighting style. For example, striking a certain body part over and over again throughout the match will have your opponents become more vigilant in defending that body part. Because of this, you’ll be encouraged to change your offense frequently in order to avoid them from catching on.

One benefit of frequently striking a certain body part is that it slowly chips away from the health for that part of the body. Multiple kicks to the leg can put somebody down leaving them open for a devastating mount. And since that body part is already hurting, it remains hurt throughout the match. Health will slowly but permanently chip away and you’ll be unable to recover to your full health as the match goes on if you’re struck repeatedly struck in one area of the body.

Similarly, you also have to watch out for our stamina. Almost everything relies on endurance as your punches, kicks, and takedowns as well as dodging all rely on this limited resource that can be drained throughout the fight. While stamina can recover by distancing yourself and you’ll get a small bit back in between rounds, you’re in trouble if your opponent has significantly higher stamina than you. This is why conserving your stamina during early matches can be important and being overly aggressive can place you in serious trouble later on.

The Result of a Devastating Mount

UFC 4 offers an abundance of modes to choose from. You can train by hitting the punching bag or participate in matches that restrict grappling of any sort. If you’re not satisfied with the modes it has to offer then feel free to create your own.

But one mode that you’ll definitely be taking notice of is career mode.

Create Your Very Own Fighter

Career mode is pretty much the main mode of UFC 4. It’s in here that you create your own fighter, customize their stats, and choose their specialties. There are plenty of different variations depending on what type of fighter you’re going for, so creating new fighters never really got stale.

Now while you start at the very bottom, you’ll slowly make your way to the top. By accepting fight contracts, you gain more reputation and money to your name. Before the start of each fight, you’ll be given an option to train up to 4 whole weeks maximum in order to fully reap the benefits of each fight. You can build up the hype for your upcoming match by posting on social media, streaming a live sparring match, or signing sponsorships.

During these weeks at the gym, you’re also encouraged to train to keep yourself in shape. Training also helps you earn points you can invest in your individual fighter’s stats. You can give them more endurance, more punching power, faster kicks, and etc. This all helps build a unique individual identity for your fighter that shapes the very way you handle your matches.

Overtime your fighter will not only move up in terms of ranking but will also improve their stamina, learn new moves, and earn money. You’ll also be able to unlock new clothes as you progress and can wear accessories that probably wouldn’t be allowed in a real UFC match if you so choose.

If you’re not too well aware of the fight mechanics of UFC 4, then career mode is the best place to start in. It offers a tutorial neatly woven into the start of your fighter’s career that slowly introduces you to the mechanics one by one without being overbearing.

There’s a deep learning curve to the game that can make it confusing for new players to get accustomed to. Even after hours and hours of playing, I still got confused by the grappling and jiu-jitsu mechanics. There’s a tutorial section in the main menu that helps clear things out a lot, but even then it can be a rough time to truly master. Even more so considering fighters who specialize in jiu-jitsu have a unique advantage to them that I found difficult to counter.

While there are many aspects that can make UFC 4 easy to get sucked into, there are a few cons, however. For one, graphics can look rather dated for its time. And I also experienced dizziness whilst playing the game. During matches, fighters would move around the ring so much to avoid getting hit that it was hard for my eyes to adjust.

There are also not that many fighters on the roster. They’ve all been taken from real-life fighters of the tournament and the selection isn’t that large. However, while your options of playing as your favorite fighter might be a bit limited, you do have a decent selection of fighters all with their own stats, weight division, and specialty.

For all my time playing UFC 4, I had never once gotten bored of its intense matches. Unlike other fighting games where I stick to my favorite combos and rush the fight, UFC 4 pushes me to slowly adapt to a different character’s fighting style and start thinking of strategies that last in the long run. There is a good level of adrenaline rushing through my veins every time one of my strategies pays off.

So even if you’re not a fan of UFC, this game is still worth getting if you’re a fan of fighting games in general and want to try something a little closer to reality. UFC 4 certainly has its cons, but I can’t deny that it is intense and offers something unique that I haven’t experienced in others of its genre.

EA Sports UFC 4 – Review
Score Definition
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.
Dynamic Fight Mechanics
Career Mode
Short Roster of Fighters
Can Be Dizzying
Some Mechanics Are Difficult To Learn