Back in late February, EA soft-launched a new UFC mixed martial arts game called simply EA Sports UFC (Free), and as of this morning it looks like that soft-launch period is over and the game is now widely available. Now, if you’ve been around a while you may recall that EA released a mobile game called MMA by EA Sports way back in October of 2010, and it was actually quite good. This new UFC game is cut from the same cloth, but streamlined and improved in several ways.
The easiest way to describe it is to say it’s Injustice (Free) with MMA fighters, at least for the striking portion of the game. Simple taps and swipes throw punches and kicks, while holding two fingers down blocks. As you land hits you’ll gain special abilities and signature moves to mix things up. In addition to the upright fighting, you can also take your opponent to the mat. This is actually pretty cool, as it uses a “tap the meter in just the right spot" mechanic that you’ve probably used in various golfing video games over the years. Once down on the mat, you can throw some more offense or try putting your opponent in a submission move, which is handled by maniacal button mashing to fill a meter.
The most impressive thing in UFC are the visuals. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen better looking character models or more fluid animation in a fighting game on mobile. Coupled with its use of licensed UFC fighters and it adds a lot of realism to the game. That said, I’ve noticed occasional graphical hiccups, the most annoying being the actual octagonal ring popping in whenever the camera angle changes. They’re minor things, but they stand out against the otherwise excellent visuals and presentation.
I’m not all that far into EA Sports UFC, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far with how much I’m liking it. The simplified touch-based fighting mechanics work really well, and I’m glad to see the awkward tilt-based movement from EA’s previous MMA game gone. No, this isn’t a fully-featured MMA simulation like you might find on consoles or PC, but it’s a nice fit for a mobile experience. The free to play system seems totally fair, though the game does require an internet connection which may be a downer for you. At any rate, if you like other mobile fighters like Injustice or Mortal Kombat (Free), and you like the UFC, you should definitely check out EA Sports UFC for free, and hop over to the forum thread for some discussion.