When defunct US video game publisher THQ lost its UFC licence to Electronic Arts (EA) in 2012, I was sceptical if the latter could continue to do this mixed martial arts video game series justice. However, EA's debut UFC title, launched two years ago, impressed me with its stunning visuals and realistic presentation. It was also a vast improvement from the giant game publisher's meek attempt for last-generation consoles, titled EA MMA.
Apart from its Fight Night boxing series, there are not many contact sports games from EA's line-up to compare UFC 2 with. However, the world of UFC is an unpredictable one. For example, UFC champions Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor are on the cover of UFC 2, but both had recently been dethroned. Unpredictability is also a theme that runs in the gameplay.
Depending on the skill level of players, matches can swing either way, which makes every defeat or victory decision very emotional.
UFC 2 raises the bar for the fight presentations. Whether it is characters making their way to the ring, getting inspected or storming into the octagon and cheering with their fans, every motion capture feels like a live telecast. As usual, iconic ring announcer Bruce Buffer's uplifting introduction of the fighters further raises the adrenaline and excitement.
Live Events is great if you're faithfully keeping up with the real-life bouts. Submit your prediction of the winners to earn points, which lead to better rewards. It's a clever move to connect the fans of live shows and those who love the game.
PRICE: From S$79.90 (PS4, Digital version tested), (Xbox One)
I'm a big fan of customised characters and the options here do not disappoint. I had fun creating my best impression of Scott Voss from the movie Here Comes The Boom, played by actor Kevin James. Much like the movie plot, my character struggled in a couple of early matches but, through scheduled training, he was able to pick up more wins.
It's crucial to monitor the stamina. Once drained, all punches and kicks will lose their impact, making the fighter vulnerable. To survive, every move and taunt has to be calculated. This approach, which is different from other fighting games such as Street Fighter, allows seasoned gamers (I count myself as one) to do better than players who are used to dishing out 20-hit combos.
I recommend that casual players try the Knockout Mode, which is essentially a race to land five hits to knock out the opponent. You can also take up the challenge online, but be wary of lag and sluggish response.
I'm happy to see Bas Rutten available for download, alongside Kazushi Sakuraba and two versions of Mike Tyson. I hope we get Ip Man in future. The addition of female fighters is also timely and much welcomed, given the rising popularity of the sport. As it stands, the current roster is already massive with 250 playable personalities from various weight divisions.
Fans of EA's Ultimate Team mode will be happy to see this feature here. I find it addictive to play, as it offers the prospect of unlocking useful moves and boosts.
There's an option to spend real money on in-game purchases to speed up your quest to boost fighter statistics.
Those unfamiliar with this series may find UFC 2 very challenging at first, but it carries a valuable lesson: Success is earned through dedication and perseverance.
• Nizam Mohd is a freelance writer