EA Sports UFC: blood on the mat, blood on my hands

By Brenna Hillier, Tuesday, 20 May 2014 14:08 GMT

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Beating a man senseless has never looked this good. EA Sports UFC appeals to Brenna’s animal instincts.


EA Sports UFC


Developed by EA Canada, the team behind Fight Night.

Coming to PS4 and Xbox One only; one of the first next-gen only game.

Built on EA Sports’ new, next-gen engine, Ignite.

Previous UFC games on PS3 and Xbox 360 were developed by Yuke’s, the WWE development team, under the stewardship of THQ. EA Sports sat on the license for several years rather than rush a game out.

Brenna also had a chat with producer Jazz Brousseau; we’ll have some highlights from that in the next few weeks.

I know fuck all about UFC. I know it’s MMA, and that unlike wrestling it’s entirely real, with people beating the shit out of each other live for your amusement. I don’t know how I feel about that. I like that there are women who do it, though. I’d like to be that muscly; I’d like to be able to kick a man so hard his teeth shoot out the back of his skull.

The UFC Gym in Sydney is a revelation. Unlike my local gym – a cramped, ancient place of free towels and tottering local pensioners who throw barbells about with merry abandon – it’s slick, filled to the brim with row upon row of the the latest contraptions. It smells like concrete and protein powder. Everyone is in new, high performance sports togs and everybody already looks like they don’t need to visit a gym – skinny, toned, ripped, bright orange. I don’t know what the UFC brand is selling in this structure but it curls my lip a little.

Walking a couple of flights up to the rooftop weights area where EA Sports has pitched camp in a meeting room of some sorts, we game journalists joke that this is too much exercise for us, eyes skating off each other nervously just as our japes skitter perilously across the surface of the truth. This gym is full of people who spend hours each week living their dreams, while we spend hours each week playing ours. We stare into the bright lights and the power fantasy takes us away from a world where we get a bit puffed jogging for the bus and struggle to open jars; where the kids who picked on us at school could likely still smear us on the pavement.

There are enough consoles set up for us all to play alone, against the AI, but I gratefully accept a colleague’s offer to play versus, because I have no idea what I’m doing and EA Sports producer Jazz Brousseau gives a meagre explanation of the controls at best. Face buttons to punch and kick. Bumpers to modify strikes. Right trigger to defend. Left stick button to get up. Some esoteric combination of shoulder buttons and “swooping motions” – he says this several times, “swooping” – to grapple and perform “submission game”.

(I brighten up over these last two. I don’t know a lot about fighting but I do know a fair bit about alternative sexualities. At least my homoerotic jokes are better than everyone else’s, and I’m more comfortable with the image of two men gently swaying and cuddling in idle grapple animations than my heternormative colleagues, even as I feel nagging pangs of guilt for fetishising my brethren for the sake of humour.)

My friend and I are laughing as we try to figure out the controls together. Punching, kicking and defending is pretty straightforward, and the focus on stamina management means each round goes back and forth a few times rather than belonging to whoever gets the hardest hits in fastest. It’s neat.


We start off playing as two of the women. I forget their names. They both look angry and also as if they could mercilessly slaughter us. Neither my colleague nor I can figure out how to get grappling and submission working properly. At the end of the fight I have won on points. I had no clue throughout the match that I was winning, although my friend, a UFC fan, did.

The second time, we play as big brutal heavyweight guys. I pick the most handsome mug from a range of cauliflower ears and broken noses. This strategy stands me in good stead as I dominate through the next few rounds. My friend is playing as a Kiwi which is, of course, a dangerous tactic to bring against an Australian. My national pride is at stake somehow even though my fighter is Canadian or American or Latvian or something. A red mist descends. When it lifts, I have won by TKO, secured by knocking my opponent to the floor, “full mount”ing him from behind (you don’t even have to fucking try, it’s so easy to pop a homo-boner) and brutally punching him in the ear and back of the neck until he is (probably) dead.

“I don’t know why, but you’re so much better at takedowns than me,” says my friend. This is true. For some reason I have mastered the art of nimbly slipping out of my opponent’s grasp. I honestly don’t know how, as I just press random buttons and wildly wiggle the analog sticks. Beginners luck, button mashing, maybe. As for my own takedowns – that I have got the hang off. Left trigger, slam an analog stick to the side, hold, then quarter circle the same analog stick. Boom. You’re on the mat.

“Such deadly grace,” I note as our opponents stand metres away from each other and kick the air passionately. “Truly the sport of kings.”

From there we get a bit confused. The idea is to grab the other guy and do horrible things to him till he submits, which plays out through a bit of cat and mouse using a screen overlay. We manage to get this to happen three times but each time one of us quickly outwits the other. Also, we don’t know how we did it. For each successful submission game we trigger there are half a dozen incidents of our men rolling over and over, patting each other feebly with their giant paws. We really need to see a chart of the swooping motions.

For our third match we try middleweight class and I again arbitrarily pick the guy I think is best looking, who turns out to have legs up to his neck and arms like Stretch Armstrong which seems like an advantage despite his comparatively slender form.

“Such deadly grace,” I note as our opponents stand metres away from each other and kick the air passionately. “Truly the sport of kings.” We’re still giggling.

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