EA Sports UFC 2 Beta Impressions

I’m sorry, did that hurt?

When it comes to sports, it’s important to keep fans interested. That could be said for just about anything, but when pertaining to one of the oldest forms of sports-entertainment, fighting has set the mold for how people view their favorite competing team or individual. It’s what they say about Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet; it has everything—drama, action, comedy, romance, all rolled into one. Well, for all intents and purposes, fighting is the Romeo and Juliet of competition.

From the gladiators of ancient Rome, to the Samurai of early-modern Japan, through to the knights of the medieval times, all the way up to brawling grunts in the streets of your local neighborhood—fighting has always played a part in the way we’ve settled disputes. And who better to illustrate such a culture than EA Sports? In the past, boxing stepped to the forefront as the leading style of hand-to-hand combat. Guys like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Jack Dempsey reigned as gods among men. But over time things began to change. Fighters got smaller, different styles of fighting became more interesting, and fans got bored [And we haven't had triple-A boxing titles for years. ~Ed. Nick]. Of course we all love to see fist-to-face pounding and big knockouts but with the development of the new generation, we can now appreciate a mix of styles, combinations of fighting arts, and individual martial law.

Enter UFC, a non-stop, action-packed, strategy-driven blood sport that’s all about making your opponent pay. There’s no love lost when it comes to mixed martial arts and all is fair in this rough game of war. EA absolutely demonstrates this in their upcoming EA Sports UFC 2 title. Fans of the series, as well as to the sport, were adequately pleased with the first installment of the 2014 release and should expect even greater results this time around.

I had a chance to get my hands on the closed beta of EA Sports UFC 2 and so far progression of the title seems to be going very well. Not all modes were available to be played, but of the ones that were included practice, skills challenges, online head-to-head, and the new ultimate team. All were easily accessible and give play-by-play instructions to how it all works. For those familiar to the series, most of these features should come to little surprise, aside from the few new additions. Those accustomed to the EA brand have seen the ultimate team feature in the past in other genres. UFC implements the game mode by giving players the option to build a team of up to five fighters and take them into single mode or into online championships and see what they are made of.

Ultimate Team will undoubtedly be a mode for fans to latch onto early. With customization options from looks to gear, you will be able to personalize your team exactly how you want. Through fights, you can earn coins or UFC points to open fight packs that can be used to boost each player’s ratings and attributes. It seems having different styles of fighters and of separate weight classes makes the most sense when putting together your team. The best part is that you can do it however you please—the boundaries are limitless.

The in-ring action itself looks and feels great thus far. Like I said earlier, strategy plays a major role when it comes to each fight. Not only do you have to find openings to land strikes and grapples, but you also have to watch your stamina as well. Going all-out can wear you down and leave you vulnerable for attack but staying too guarded may hold you back, never allowing for a clean opening. It’s all about finding that balance, achieved by knowing the right combination of moves and style attacks.

Now I’m not a complete stranger to the series, but I found it mildly difficult to remember certain combinations and button configurations. This shows how in-depth and detail-oriented EA Sports UFC 2 is. EA Sports wants to give everyone a unique and accurate experience. Some fighters will possess traits that others fighters don’t and it is important to illustrate this in every way possible.

Though there’s a slight learning curve, with all of the new developments, it is well worth it to practice each technique in order to implement them in each fight. The possibilities already seem endless with release just a little over a month away. One of the big selling points could be the amount of playable characters. I know I can’t wait to step in the ring with the legend himself, Mr. Iron Mike Tyson. For those WWE fans out there, CM Punk has made an appearance but as many know, with little professional MMA experience. Certainly there will be more to look forward to in the coming week.

EA Sports UFC 2 releases on March 15, 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.