Look, I’ll always be a Fight Night fan, and my heart is with those games, but with over a decade since the last one, I need some combat sport to enjoy. Enter UFC 5, the latest entry in the EA-developed and published series from the Vancouver studio. The move to being a current-gen title is brilliant because it allows for more extensive and bolder gameplay, something a video game like UFC 5 needs to have. There’s a whole new level of realism this go-round, from the character models to the octagon — even the injuries begin to showcase how capable the Frostbite Engine is in capable hands.
One of the first things I find myself starting in a game like this is heading to the character creator to begin my career mode. There isn’t a better way outside of training to get a handle on the mechanics than a suitable career mode. You can craft a new fighter from scratch or import a legendary fighter from the past. If you have the deluxe edition, you might even find icons like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, or Bruce Lee at your disposal. From there, you need to decide on your style.
Get Ready To Rumble In UFC 5
This year’s UFC 5 is the bloodiest and most gruesome entry. The Real Impact System is surprisingly cohesive and offers the most authentic MMA title yet. EA’s new system has upwards of 64,000 facial combinations that affect the eyes, brows, and forehead. Each area can be affected, and depending on how much damage you deal to your opponent in any one place, more cuts means more blood, and it is far more likely your opponent will lose. And it’s pretty bloody, I’d say, as you can see the damage take over with bruising often forming around the area. The Real Impact System is an impressive feat; you need to see it in action to see what I’m talking about. In one instance, if you continually deal damage to your opponent’s nose, not only will it make breathing harder for them, but it will slow stamina recovery, too. It’s the same with calf kicks — something I would repeatedly do against opponents when playing as Jon Jones.
The severity of wounds can heavily impact how well you recover in a fight, and I’ve encountered several nasty instances that impressed me. I broke a fighter’s nose in one match, and immediately, you can see his stamina meter begin to deplete faster because he’s unable to breathe correctly. The match ended sooner than I anticipated because the doctor eventually called the game due to the severity of the damage I caused. It was incredible seeing it unfold, too.
Career Mode is about as familiar as ever, and it feels like previous entries. You can start with your fighter and work through the UFC as you begin at the bottom of the totem before working up to the top. As you rise to the top, your character becomes far more formidable as they unlock and improve new moves.
The World’s Greatest
The additional time spent developing UFC 5 means the world, and the changes made to the presentation do not go unnoticed. The extra development time for starts means the controls have been reworked and benefit the player. You’re introduced to the new control scheme, and it becomes comfortable for players to engage with other fighters almost immediately. If you’re a newcomer and feel like the controls may feel overwhelming, then worry not, as EA Vancouver has thought of this by introducing dialled-back rules so players of all levels can play together. It reminds me of how Capcom approached Street Fighter 6 by modernizing the mechanics and allowing you to focus on playing rather than overthinking button presses. It’s a smart move that pays off; more fighting games must follow suit.
A significant component of these titles is ground game, and while some prefer to avoid taking the other player to the mat, I have always revelled in it. Friends say it became far more complicated when you went from fighting to grappling, and I can understand why. For one, I can control my opponent far more manageable when I can muster the strength and take them for a round of ground and pound. That was always my maneuver that saved me from embarrassing myself. In UFC 5, the ground game has been reworked to be more manageable by simplifying how it works. Previously, this required a ton of button presses and figuring out how the minigames worked. Now, things like submissions are built into the mechanics, and it feels far better, but you’ll need to understand positions and how you must be in the correct stance to get your opponent to tap out.
EA Sports UFC 5 is an elevated experience from its predecessors. While graphically, the series has never looked better, the lack of engaging modes leaves career mode as the only worthwhile experience, and even that has lots of room to improve. Despite all this, the Real Impact System is brutal and showcases how rough things can get in the octagon at a moment’s notice. This system actively makes you think about your strategy instead of attacking an opponent and hoping for the best. With the new grappling system, improved mechanics, and use of the Frostbite Engine, EA Vancouver moves the series in the right direction.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Review: EA Sports UFC 5
The Real Impact System is incredible
Reworked ground game is a lot more accessible
Career Mode is fun but not different from previous entries