It's nearly been a year since EA first announced the acquisition of the UFC license from the (at the time) struggling-to-survive THQ. Since then we've not heard much about what EA Sports plans to do with the license, except that a game is being worked on by the Fight Night team at EA Canada. This is significant because EA Tiburon handled things the last time the publisher attempted to delve into the sport of mixed martial arts.
So what does this mean? Well, it means that EA is taking things a lot more seriously this time and putting its best team on the case. The Fight Night games were superb and there are features that could be taken from that series to make this the best UFC game yet. Here are the big changes and features we want to see.
If there's one thing that games from EA Sports tend to get right, it's the presentation. For me, this covers everything that doesn't happen in the cage. From menus, to music, to fighter entrances, everything from THQ's UFC Undisputed series could be improved. There was never that sense of a big event happening, and every fight felt the same whether you were a newcomer making your debut or a big name fighting for a title.
Creating a fighter in UFC Undisputed sometimes felt like a chore, as it took an age to scroll through each of the choices for hairstyles, face shapes, body types and everything else. This is a shame as creating a new fighter was very important, as you'd be spending the rest of the career mode with this person so you'd want them to look and feel unique. The whole process of creating a fighter needs to be improved with a lot more options.
More varied fighter animations
Unfortunately most fighters had the same animations when they were throwing punches and kicks in UFC Undisputed. There were a few different styles, such as boxing or kickboxing techniques which altered things slightly, but a handful of different styles for over 100 fighters meant that you were seeing the same moves over and over again. It might be asking a bit too much for every fighter to have his own set of moves, but the big stars like Anderson Silva and Jon Jones should really feel unique.
A story mode
Beyond career and title defence, the modes in UFC Undisputed felt a bit shallow. The latest Fight Night included a story mode to switch things up a bit, and it's something that could be added here to great effect. You could follow the narrative of an up-and-coming fighter making his way in the UFC, and have to make choices which will end up playing a part in where he ends up. Failing that, a carbon copy of the story mode from Fight Night would be welcome.
Female MMA fighters are nothing new; they've been going for years. But the UFC has only recently added a women's division, led by champion and former Olympian Ronda Rousey. Hopefully it's not too late for the women's division to be included, as it's provided some of the best battles in the cage this year and that could easily translate to fast and fun battles in the game.