There’s an episode of South Park where the boys are obsessed with all the costumes and drama of the WWE Wrestling, much to the dismay of the town’s lone professional wrestler. He’s frequently seen losing his lid and shouting “this isn’t wrasslin!” This phrase perfectly sums up my experience playing through UFC 3’s new career mode, which suffers from a slight identity crisis.
UFC 3, the newest title from EA Sports does a bang-up job emulating the MMA experience thanks to its realistic striking and movement. Both systems are completely overhauled so you can move, strike, and create seamless combos with the fluidity and freedom of the UFC athletes.
Managing stamina along with strikes and blocking adds strategy and depth to the gameplay. When the fight shifts to the ground, it can be difficult to overcome an opponent or retain the dominant position due to a severe lack of prompts or anything that can assist you in reading an opponent. This aspect of the game could use further refinement.
UFC 3’s roster includes over 200 fighters across all men’s and women’s weight divisions. All the big names are there: Connor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, Tony Ferguson and even Bruce Lee as an unlockable fighter.
The Real Player Motion technology does an incredible job digitally recreating all of the pro athletes. UFC 3 is realism and motion capture at its best.
The new G.O.A.T. Career Mode has you creating a fighter from scratch to rise through the ranks and ultimately reach UFC glory. Career Mode adapts to your skill level so even if you lose a bout, the game records the loss and moves on to other fights. You could eventually be offered a development contract or be called up as a last-minute injury replacement. There are multiple progression paths for you to explore.
In between fights you can train at a gym, improving you and your fighter’s skills in different forms of martial art training. Earning prize and sponsorship money grants access to better gyms and drills. Sparring is one of the most important things you can do before a fight. Your sparring partner mimics the upcoming opponent to help you improve the odds.
It’s in the promotional events that UFC 3 misses the mark. Through your MMA career, you build rivalries and have opportunities to showboat or trash-talk an opponent. There are also opportunities to live stream to fans and engage with social media.
EA Sports uses these moments to expand the UFC experience outside of the Octagon, just like the career modes in FIFA and Madden 18, although those games succeeded because they offer well-written, emotional stories which ultimately pay off at the end, whereas UFC 3 feels more like its tapping into the worst aspects of celebrity culture.
I would have preferred an underdog story like Rocky instead of opportunities to shout like Connor McGregor. If I wanted that sort of drama, I’d go to the WWE. Like I said – this isn’t wrasslin!
Knockout Mode makes up for the career’s shortcomings by removing the frustrating floor work and janky narrative to keep you on two feet and inserting none-other than Snoop Dogg as the commentator. It’s just as hilarious and unusual as you imagine.
Like all EA Sports games, Ultimate Team mode is present for you to build a roster of custom and real fighters and compete against others online. Sadly, progression is tailored towards microtransactions, making it the least accessible mode of all. Other modes include Submission Showdown, Stand & Bang and Custom Fight.
Don’t get me wrong, UFC 3 is a great sports game and its substantial roster of fighters and game modes make it a solid package. I was looking for a more rewarding career mode than the game offered, although there’s every chance that you will love it. If not, there’s always Snoop Dogg’s Knockout Mode to fall back on. Either way, UFC 3 is still the best game in the series to date.
UFC 3 is available now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. For more sporting goodness, feast your eyes on Ashes Cricket.
I played UFC 3 on PlayStation 4 and was provided with a copy of the game by the publisher.