UFC 5 is damned fun, but know that I’m not a huge follower of the sport/organization and I haven’t played the series since the 2nd title. I’m a fresh little battle baby boy and I’ve had a lot of fun punchin’, kickin’, and chokin’ my way up the ranks of the UFC. There’s a lot to the systems here though, so lets start trying to break ‘em down from the most layman of perspectives.
From the days of the Gracies beating the heck out of sumos to the full on sports organization days I’ve always enjoyed the UFC. I’ve fallen off in recent years so it’s been a treat to get to refamiliarize myself with the carnage that is a MMA match. EA’s UFC franchise had a rough start but has slowly built up into something people have enjoyed but never loved. I don’t think UFC 5 will change that completely but it is a deep package, with a large roster and a lot of modes on offer.
That roster includes roughly 100 fighters when I checked, both men and women are sorted by their weight classes. Modes wise you have:
- Exhibition Match
- Event Creator
- Create a Fighter
- Learn (tutorials)
I spent most of my time early on in Learn, the game’s tutorial section, because the combat is dense. Matches allow you to choose the style of gameplay you want, these are; Knockout, Stand and Bang, Competitive, Simulation, and Custom. Depending on who is fighting simulation was my preferred, as it felt the most like watching a real fight. The other modes are all more arcade-like with a focus on stand up fisticuff and kicking action instead of submission and wrestling. You can fight in a UFC Main Card, Main Event, Championship Bout, Back Yard arena, or even the Kumite.
Each mode has different rulesets on rounds and time, with the kumite being a long bout where any decision is a draw. After choosing your weight class and difficulty the final selector is the arena you’ll be fighting in. UFC-style fights have a handful of real-world arenas to choose from, each of which was rendered well based on my admittedly shoddy memory.
The heart of UFC 5 is of course its combat. It took me a while to learn the incredibly intricate systems of the game, and I got my butt handed to me by the CPU on normal more than once while learning. Punch and kicks can feel appropriately powerful when well timed, with the most vicious strikes making the screen flash as the audio booms. As a boxing game UFC works well if you commit to memorizing its complicated control schemes. Remembering how each strike was pulled off, how to block high and low while bobbing and weaving and catching kicks to deal maximize retributive damage feels great once you get the basics down.
On the ground it’s more basic, though just as difficult. The focus moves from the face buttons and triggers to the right stick as you are in a constant back and forth to gain or maintain control. All of these strikes and grapples serve the meter masters as you whittle down your opponents stamina and various health bars on each body part. While perfect strikes can take down someone with a single attack most of my fights ended after working a specific area, leading to a submission while on simulation mode. The stand up and fight modes are knockout fests for those looking for quicker paced action as well.
Graphically UFC 5 looks fantastic on Series X. Arenas look great and the fighter models are top notch. Damage over time can be gruesome as cuts open over eyes and bruises quickly appear everywhere you’ve dealt serious damage. In the opening bout your character has such a disgusting looking cut that I winced at the screen as he was allowed to continue. A minute later I had landed such a devastating kick to my opponents head that after immediately being knocked out he had an even worse looking gash on his head in the post-fight screen.
Animations flow well with only a few instances where arms or legs appeared to break as they bent the wrong way. They quickly snapped into a more anatomically correct position without missing a beat, but it is a constant reminder that this is a video game. Series X offers up a clean image and a great feeling 60fps target, with short load times and a rocking audio scape during each fight.
The career mode is weak, as they tend to be in sports games. You’ll work your way up from the backyard to the big time, and it ends up being a solid tutorial on learning how to play the game. While it’s not an interesting story, as the writing and acting are bland, it’s a great way for newcomers to jump in. During the review period I tried playing online but had trouble finding matches. I got a few in and it felt great, though these games tend to during reviews and fall apart at launch. There are a lot of mtx in the store but I never felt a pull to change up a character’s look.
UFC 5 is fun to play, looks great, has a ton of fighters, though the career mode is a glorified tutorial. If you love the sport this seems like the best one yet, and should be well worth checking out.