THQ had a great run with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) franchise when it was in its possession, with three Undisputed games that managed to provide a number of great options for fans and newcomers to enjoy for months at a time. But now that the Undisputed franchise has gone the way of the dodo (due to THQ's bankruptcy), EA Sports is in a position to start anew, acquiring the franchise last summer as part of an agreement with president Dana White.
Though the company hasn't explained just what it's doing with the franchise yet, we're likely to find out this summer as part of the EA Sports showcase at E3 – and maybe even sooner. And while there's no question that the team can handle an MMA style fighter (just take a look at the above average EA Sports MMA, which came out a few years back), there are some changes that could be made to keep the momentum of UFC video gaming going.
We here at Prima Games have a few ideas that we'd like to offer, which we feel would make the EA Sports take on UFC fighting games work better than expected – and in some ways, perhaps even greater than the Undisputed line could accomplish. And if you have your own suggestions, by all means, list them below. We could very well revisit them in a future article.
Let's get to brawlin'!
Various Fighting Styles
One of the huge advantages that Undisputed had in its tenure was various fighting styles amongst its huge fighting cast. In fact, with UFC Undisputed 3, THQ (and its development team at Yukes) managed to throw some Pride fighting in there as well, with more variety than ever before. For its UFC debut, EA Sports should take a similar stance, throwing in everything from jujitsu to wrestler style, and perhaps even providing users the chance to adapt their own styles with a customized fighter. Even the smallest things, like how they can catch their opponent in the clinch with a specialized submission, can make all the difference in how the game plays. Speaking of which…
Balance, Balance, Balance
While there are no doubt some overpowered heavyweight fighters in Ultimate Fighting Championship, EA needs to find a way to retain the fair balance between combatants in the game. Sure, some fighters may be quick and agile (like Anderson Silva), but proper balancing between two types of brawling – even with lesser class against greater class – would make all the difference. The developers should also consider a system where you could easily catch someone in a submission on one end, while providing more than a fair chance to get out of it on the other, so the fight isn't immediately over – unless, of course, a "sweet spot" is hit, just like in a real match. Make the game fair for everyone, but also challenging for those who are ready to dominate. (Adjustable difficulty settings would be a huge plus as well.)
Yeah, yeah, we hear you naysayers yelling, "UFC is a MALE sport, get the ladies out of here." To which we respond, "Just shut up already." The truth is, equality in sports is growing quite rapidly, as you can see from the inclusion of the LPGA and its players in the forthcoming Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14. So why can't it work the same for UFC? Get these girls in the octagon and they can do their own fair amount of damage against their opponents. And, for good measure, why not add a few legends to the mix? Gina Carano may have moved on to acting, but in her heyday, she could really kick some butt. With the right licensing deal, she probably can again.
Get the Community Involved
The UFC has a vastly growing community, with fans buying up shirts and supplements like nobody's business and getting together in arenas and bars, talking about who's fighting and who stands the better chance of walking away with a victory. So why can't EA incorporate that somehow into the game? With its first game, it could easily capitalize in a number of community-based features, such as being able to form your own "fight club" (like in UFC Undisputed 3), create a gym where your friends could stop by to challenge you, and even fighting events, similar to setting up pay-per-view events in the WWE games. Secondary forums could also be created online, so fighters could seek out challengers and set up fights beforehand to drum up attention. We'd love to see this happen.
Create Your Own Gym and Arena
There are a number of great arenas included in prior UFC games – mainly ones in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, obviously – but why not get the option to create your own? Customization is a huge asset in many sports games (and WWE), so to see the ability to create your own octagon in a game like this would really click. And why stop there? You could also build your own gym from scratch, setting up the specific mini-games for your fighter to partake in before each match, and getting trainers interested in coming in and teaching new things. It'd take some time, but dedicated UFC fans would definitely invest it.
Presentation – and That Includes Joe Rogan
Finally, we know EA Sports is all about authenticity, but for the UFC game, it needs to have it nailed down to the letter. Make sure each fighter – even the smaller range ones – appear just like their lifelike selves. Include familiar arenas, including the MGM Grand, for them to fight in. Throw in the sponsor logos and banners for good measure. And, of course, it wouldn't be a true UFC experience without the voices behind it, like announcer Bruce Buffer and commentators Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg. It all came together quite well in the Undisputed games…so why stop a good thing now?
We'll have more information on EA Sports' UFC game as it's unveiled. Here's hoping we see all this – and more – in the final product.