EA Sports UFC

EA Sports UFC is a mixed martial arts fighting video game developed by Electronic Arts for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is based on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brand and is expected to be released in Spring 2014. It will be the first UFC game since THQ sold the license to Electronic Arts.

Key events

Pop quiz, video games fan: what was the first fighting game to feature counters, in-air reversals, special moves accessed by twirling the joystick, secret techniques that didn't appear in the instructions and a super attack that led to instant disqualification? Don't bother guessing, you're probably wrong: it was Brian Jacks' Uchi Mata, a judo game released on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 which came out a full year before the original Street Fighter.

Face-Off: EA Sports UFC

Digital FoundryFace-Off: EA Sports UFC

Fight Night: The Next Generation?

Our initial analysis of the UFC demo proved mostly positive on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, albeit with the Sony system pulling out a small graphical advantage in terms of effects and image quality. However, the overall experience on both platforms didn't feel quite as polished as it could have been: transitions between menus stuttered on-screen, while a few mild performance issues prevented the PS4 game delivering the best possible experience in all areas. With the final game in our grasp, it's time to see if these elements have improved.

After we first insert the UFC disc, a day-one patch starts downloading. This is sometimes a good sign, as developers often make last-minute tweaks and optimisations even after gold master code is dispatched for production, and we hoped that would be the case here, as there had been talk of a resolution upgrade for the final game. However, it's not clear whether anything has actually improved over the one-month-old demo. Navigation of the various menus are still interrupted by stuttering transitions, and more importantly the basic rendering set-up of the game is entirely unchanged.

It's clear that that both versions of UFC still operate using 1600x900 framebuffers in combination with multi-sampling anti-aliasing. As we saw in the demo code, 4x MSAA is present on PS4, reduced to 2x MSAA on the Xbox One, giving Sony's system a tangible increase in overall image quality even if the difference is fairly subtle a lot of the time. A closer look at the edges on Xbox One also reveals some inconsistent transparent pixels around characters and scenery, suggesting a rougher, less refined scaling implementation. This leads to the game looking slightly fuzzier, although when viewing the action from a few feet away on our 32-inch HDTV these artefacts are pretty well concealed by post-processing effects.

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EA Sports UFC review

EA Sports UFC review

The White stuff.

It all starts with a fistbump.

Actually, it doesn't. 95 per cent of Mixed Martial Arts contests might start with a respectful touch of gloves as the first round starts, but in EA Sports UFC, they do not. It's an odd little omission that, obviously, doesn't affect gameplay - but also demonstrates a developer that's not quite in tune with the sport it's representing.

EA Sports UFC is Electronic Arts' second jab at the complicated, violent, misunderstood and multi-faceted sport of mixed martial arts. The fantastic EA MMA was built in the humid climes of Florida, though, meaning EA Sports UFC is the first step into the cage for the Canadian team responsible for the Fight Night boxing series.

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EA Sports UFC demo performance analysis

With the battle between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One heating up these past few weeks, it seems somewhat fitting that the next throwdown between these console giants should take place in the Octagon. EA Sports UFC makes its next-generation debut this month utilising the Ignite Engine, promising to deliver a new sense of realism, and its arrival brings to mind the impressive Fight Night Round 3, released a few months after the launch of the Xbox 360, and its incredible presentation. More than eight years later, one might wonder just how much of an evolution we might see, and with the release of the UFC demo this past week we got the opportunity to find out.

This limited demo includes just two fighters, Alexander Gustafsson and Jon Jones, throwing down in a single match, but it paints a fairly positive picture. Despite EA Sports focusing on 1080p60 with its suite of launch games, UFC appears instead to operate at 1600x900 on both consoles, making this the third PS4 title to forego a full 1080p presentation, but thankfully the darkened arenas, generous post-processing, and lack of finer distant detail prevent this from ruining the experience and we're still left with a clean presentation. It's only when examining selected anti-aliasing techniques that we see any real differences between the two.

The PS4 version utilises a much more comprehensive 4x MSAA solution (perhaps with a post-process anti-aliasing technique on top) that manages to nearly eliminate aliasing in most situations despite the lower resolution. Xbox One doesn't fare quite so well, with image quality falling short of the PS4 version - 2x MSAA appears to be present, though we're not sure if there's a post-process on top, or whether we're just seeing the results of upscaling.

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EA Sports UFC preview: The MMA genre re-disputed

EA Sports UFC preview: The MMA genre re-disputed

With EA Sports' Ignite engine coming up against the UFC licence, the results are looking promising.

Last year proved to be one of the most progressive in UFC history. Not only did we see women fighting in The Octagon for the first time, we saw two of the sport's most iconic champions - Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre - lose their respective titles. Silva lost twice to Chris Weidman, with the second fight ending in a clean break of The Spider's leg, while St-Pierre vacated the title after a highly controversial win over Johny Hendricks. It feels like we're heading into a new era of MMA, and it's not something that begins and ends with the physical sport itself.

It's no secret that the Undisputed series was the MMA champion over the last console generation. UFC 2009 Undisputed proved that the sport could be made into something worthy, and over two subsequent games Yuke's refined the art of takedowns and transitions. But now that EA Sports has the UFC license and Yuke's has gone back to working with the WWE, Dana White has gone from declaring war on EA to helping it build a new generation of UFC fighting games. Still, after all the trash talk that's been thrown around in the past, what was that first meeting like?

"It was totally cool", explains EA Sports UFC producer Brian Hayes. "We announced the licensing with the UFC back at E3 2012, and then literally two weeks later, Dana White, Lorenzo Feritta and some other key people came to the studio and gave a presentation to the whole team. We then gave a presentation on what our plans were and it went from there." That meeting was over one and a half years ago, and since then, Hayes and his team have put together a fighting system that feels less like an evolution of EA Sports MMA and more like a combination of Fight Night and Undisputed.

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