EA Sports UFC 2 Review

Richard Walker

MMA is a brutal business. Faces get pummelled to mush, blood splatters across the canvas, and a fight can be over in a matter of seconds. EA Sports UFC 2 succeeds in communicating all of this brilliantly, every punch and kick a wince-inducing moment where you count your blessings that you're not on the receiving end. Of course, EA Canada's first UFC was no slouch when it came to recreating the uncompromising combat within the Octagon, but UFC 2 is a vast improvement.

First and foremost, the much-vaunted Knockout Physics are so much more than just something to stick on the back of the game box. They ensure that strikes look and feel like they should, every one that you manage to accurately land connecting with a convincing heft. Knockouts obviously benefit the most, your opponent tumbling to the canvas in a realistic fashion that's pretty much never the same twice. It brings UFC 2 closer to the real thing, especially when coupled with the game's stellar visuals and faithfully recreated atmosphere. Sure, at times the physics-driven action can be a tad jerky, but overall, it looks the business.

McGregor proving he's one hell of a fighter.

Dynamic grappling is the second of UFC 2's banner features, simplifying the way the ground game works with clear and intuitive controls that revolve entirely around holding the right stick to transition. Submissions can then be executed from certain positions, although the actual submission mini-game is still a little obtuse, involving right and left stick twiddling. When the rest of UFC 2's gameplay is so tight, you can't help but feel that submissions are a weak link.

As such, I made my custom Career Mode fighter (which now supports both male and female challengers) a primarily standup fighter, able to defend against takedowns, but practically useless in a clinch or grapple. Nonetheless, you can get pretty far with vicious punches and kicks, seeing my contender rising from the preliminary fights to the ranks of Ultimate Fighter championships to a real challenger in the UFC proper, seeing off rivals with a succession of TKO victories. Career Mode is every bit as engaging as you might hope, with less grinding away in the lower levels and more actual pugilism in the UFC Octagon.

Every Career Mode fight is set up to feel significant, with pre-fight training camps to sharpen your skills and develop your attributes, being careful not to incur stat-damaging injuries as you hit heavy bags and spar with partners. Like a real UFC career, your longevity as a fighter is finite, and each bout takes its toll. However, as you accrue Evolution Points (EP), you can purchase useful perks that boost specific abilities and buy or level-up your fighter's moves. That means you can constantly mould and shape your fighter the way you want; something that also applies to the new UFC Ultimate Team mode.

UFC Ultimate Team does what the other EA Sports Ultimate Team modes do, with packs of cards to purchase using coins you earn or UFC points you can buy using real money. Rather than rewarding you with fighters, the card packs grant training boosts, fighter perks and new moves with which to grow the stable of five combatants that make up your Ultimate Team. You'll then take your growing pugilists online to test their mettle, or face off against the AI bots of other players in single-player bouts. Ultimate Team works well, but it's not really as involving as the experience mustered by its other EA Sports stablemates like FIFA, NHL, Madden et al. Or indeed the game's enjoyable Career Mode.

Knockout Mode is really where its at for immediate gratification though, boiling UFC down to its bare essentials, stripping out the ground game for pure toe-to-toe battling. It's a great mode for when you get friends round for a quick fight, getting all players of any skill level involved. It's a genuinely fantastic addition to UFC 2 and a really good place to start for some instantaneous fun. Live Events also allow you to make predictions on upcoming real-life UFC fights with rewards for getting your guesses right and for recreating them in-game. Alongside Custom Events, it's another welcome addition and another string to UFC 2's bow.

In the online stakes, UFC 2 also brings plenty of options to the table, with an Unranked Quick Fight or Ranked Championships battle only a short hop away. Matchmaking in its current state is pretty smooth and fairly speedy, and once you're prowling the canvas, the action remains stable and steady for the most part. Ranked Championships is the most enjoyable of the online modes, enabling you to fight from division to division, racking up victories across whichever weight class you prefer. It's really good stuff that's definitely worth delving into.

Cover star Ronda Rousey in action.

There's an excellent spread of achievements across the whole of UFC 2's generously proportioned package too, with milestones during the lengthy Career Mode rewarded at just the right moments, while Ultimate Team also has its own challenges to overcome. The game's online achievements aren't too tall an order either, taking you into each of the suite of modes to complete some fairly straightforward tasks. You can also earn some easy Gamerscore in Knockout Mode and Fight Now mode, as well as the game's Custom Events and Live Events. A good, solid list.

An altogether far more accomplished and complete package than its forebear, EA Sports UFC 2 is also a better fighting game, doing a superior job in simulating the sport of MMA and presenting a full selection of game modes to boot. EA Canada has really gone the extra mile in addressing the shortcomings of the first game, making EA Sports UFC 2 pound-for-pound, all the better for it.

EA Sports UFC 2

Where the first EA Sports UFC failed to go big on content, EA Sports UFC 2 delivers big time. That it also successfully improves upon the strong foundations laid by UFC 1 in the gameplay stakes, makes UFC 2 nothing short of superlative. It's a winner.

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Dramatic music, roaring crowds, rattling sounds of fist, elbow, foot and knee hitting flesh. It's all present and correct. The commentary is good too.


Still great, UFC 2 looks about as close to the actual sport as you can get. Fighter likenesses are spot-on and the physics-driven brawling makes for more realistic bouts.


Eclipses the first EA Sports UFC in almost every department. EA Canada has simplified the ground game and made things more accessible without watering anything down in the process. It's great.


All of the modes sorely missing from the last UFC have been introduced along with a few you might not have been expecting. Knockout Mode in particular is an excellent new addition. UFC Ultimate Team, Live Events, a roster of 250 fighters, and more besides make for a complete package.


A really nice list with an excellent spread across all of UFC 2's modes. Some are challenging, some are nice and easy, but all of UFC 2's achievements are deployed in just the right places. Nice.

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