EA Sports UFC 4: A Descent Into Mediocrity
A mediocre game from a mediocre company
UFC 4 was released on August 14, 2020, and was developed by EA Vancouver. EA at this point didn't have the best reputation. Especially considering its Madden series, which that year would release Madden 21 which had the lowest user score on Metacritic, going at a 0.2/10 for the PS4 version and a 0.5/10 for the Xbox One version. So how did EA's other game that was released only 14 days before last? Well from the reviews online, it is like most EA games at the time. The critic's rating is really high, at 82 for the Xbox One and 78 for the PS4 version. But with the user score, the score is 2.2 for the Xbox One and 1.6 on the PS4 version. People describe it as "The last game but with better graphics" or "Just a UFC 3 DLC." But was it really that bad? Well, I've played it a while ago and re-downloaded it to find out. In this review, I'll be going over a couple of things: gameplay, the roster, offline modes, online modes, and create fighter.
The gameplay in this is very similar to UFC 3, so if you're just picking it up after playing that, you're in luck. In their exhibition fight mode, fight now, there are different fight types. 3 rounds, which is just standard UFC rules of 3 rounds that are 5 minutes each. There is 5 rounds, which is standard UFC rules for main events, which is 5 rounds for 5 minutes each. There is championship, which is the same as the previous mode but with some changes to the hud. JP-MMA mode is 3 rounds that are 10 minutes each. Vale Tudo mode is 1 round lasting 30 minutes. And finally, kickboxing mode is 5 rounds that are 3 minutes each, kinda like 5 rounds just flip-flopped. When it comes to game modes, they have your standard exhibition match known as fight now, stand & bang which is described as "No grappling, ground work, or submission", adrenaline mode which is described in game as "Land strikes to build up your adrenaline meter and then unleash attacks to finish your opponent in this stand-up only mode. Knockout nide is just stand & bang but this time with different health bars. And of course, custom fight now which is just creating your own rules to the fight.
They have added more venues to the game than last time, this time we have all the same ones as last time but this one now has Kumite which is in some cave. According to Wikipedia, Kumite is one of the three sections of karate training, I'm not well versed in karate so I can't say much about it. Another venue is Backyard, in which you're in a backyard, wrestling in a cage with no mat but instead just dirt. The WFA makes a return from the last game, which I've always loved the venue. It always gave the game that homey kind of feeling. Also for the first time, we have the UFC Apex arena and the Action Avenue arena from career mode. Before I talk about the fighting, we also are allowed to fight outside of weight classes. Ben Askren can fight Tyson Fury if you wanted to.
I decided to play a match to see how it is and the graphics are really good and the striking is semi-fluid but the grappling is a little rough around the edges. The striking is nice and it looks like actual punches, just like in the previous game. Clinching was kinda awkward as compared to UFC 3 but maybe it's a personal skill thing because the controls are different with clinching. The submission is not as good as UFC 3 as the minigames are entirely based on luck. With the submission mini-games, you must have pinpoint accuracy with the mini-games, or else you're just gonna lose and throw away all your progress. The ground-and-pound is also decent, it's not as fluid as the stand-up striking the game. And the ground movement took a massive downgrade as the movement is slower.
The career mode in this title is actually pretty decent but the training mode is a bit of a downgrade. In this game, you spar and that's it. I'd rather have the UFC 3 training which is just using points to do workouts off-camera. Another thing I don't like is the cinematic videos with the epic voice. But another thing I like in this as compared to UFC 3 is that there are fewer UFC Minute's. Other than that, there are very few rivalries. It's not as well visualized like it was in the previous title. Other than that, there's not much to talk about.
The two offline modes are custom events and tournaments. In Custom Event, you create a card with all the fights you want. And the tournament is obviously...a tournament. This could have whatever rules, weight classes, and fighters you want.
Quick Fight is your average exhibition fight against random players and trust me, this community is the most toxic I've seen since Rainbow Six Siege. If you win, you'll get a message calling you anything from a spammer to a hacker, to straight up a slur. Even occasionally, if you win, you'll get called a neckbeard/fat but oh my god when you lose to them they'll act like they are God's greatest gift to society and mankind. They will call you trash or tell you to uninstall or they'll use the oh-so-original insult of "I had sex with your mom". One more thing is just how much people just leave randomly before they lose. Usually, if they don't leave before getting knocked out or submitted, they'll be typing up their soliloquy on why YOU suck at the game because you won. Alternatively, you can do a private one-on-one match.
Blitz Battles are like Quick Fight but it gives you a random stipulation that changes every day. At the time of writing, the current stipulation is stand and bang boxing, 1 round, bantamweight only. This mode is pretty fun except for the submission-only ones which people will find all the ways to just cheese the game.
And Finally, Online World Championships is pretty much the ranked version of Quick Fight, and oh boy if you thought Quick Fight was toxic, then you are in for a treat. I have been called slurs for winning more times than I have changed my character and that's saying something with how frequently I change my character's appearance.
Speaking of customization and changing appearances, UFC 4 has really stepped up its game with customization. Your character can wear tops, all sorts of bottoms (compressor pants, board shorts, vale tudo, muay Thai, gladiator pants, boxing shorts, miscellaneous bottoms, and UFC shorts. You can also have specialty gloves from many styles and a very limited amount of mouthguards. A thing that many people complain about is the accessories. You can have luchador masks, Halloween masks, necklaces, hats, beanies, and all sorts of headgear. People complain because the ground and pound are downgraded but the trade-off is just necklaces and masks.
Overall, this game is incredibly mediocre. It's not as good as the previous game or any of the Fight Night series. I rate the game a 6/10. It is passable but overall just an average game. It's nothing to write home about and when given the option, I'm playing UFC 3. 6/10 | 3/5 stars