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TSC’s Fred Richani reviews EA Sports UFC 4! Watch the review video or read it below!

Disclaimer: We were provided a free copy of UFC 4 by EA Sports for this review.

EA Sports UFC returns with its fourth installment from EA Vancouver and features a more arcade-like feel, while still maintaining MMA’s realism.

But how does EA Sports UFC 4 stack up with past iterations? Let’s dive in.

If you’ve never played EA UFC before, you’ll notice there are plenty of options to choose from. When you first fire up UFC 4, you’ll be put right into Career Mode, featuring your fictional former UFC fighter-turned-mentor Coach Davis.

From there, you can create your character and customize their look in a variety of ways. I wouldn’t call UFC 4’s creation suite WWE 2K level, but it’s sure better than what you get in Madden and some other sports games.

After editing your character’s name, hometown, and appearance, you can work your way up from regional MMA to Dana White’s Contenders Series to UFC PPVs and hopefully, eventually, a world title shot. Similarly to UFC 3, you have to go through weeks of training camp, which allow you to learn new skills, refine attributes, hype your fight, find sponsors, and get in peak condition for your ultimate challenge.

This year’s Career Mode features a more streamlined look and cutscenes, along with fighter connections you can establish over time. Just keep in mind, your training partners may eventually become your opponents and vice versa. You should also be careful when training because much like real life, the injury risks are real — so manage your conditioning wisely.

Another new aspect of Career Mode is the long-term health effects of fights. Get viciously knocked out? Break your leg? A major injury doesn’t just put you on the shelf for a few months, but can end your UFC career before it even starts. Wars are fun every now and then, but they can also decrease your fighter’s longevity over time. So don’t button mash and throw anything against the cage and see what sticks — unless you’re down on the scorecards and need a finish to get that win.

If Career Mode isn’t your thing, you have a variety of options to choose from. You’ll notice the new-look menus and the fighter selection screen now resembles something out of Tekken and Mortal Kombat. The selection features a massive roster of fighters with updates to come as the year progresses, so don’t panic if your favorite fighter isn’t on the list just yet.

If you pre-ordered UFC 4, you even get heavyweight boxing champions Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua! Yes, we get AJ and Fury in a freakin’ MMA game before a current gen Fight Night Champion game. Better than nothing, boxing fans.

Oh, you also get Dana White, Bruce Buffer, and Bruce Lee. Sure, why not?!

With all these fighters comes modes to play them in under Fight Now, Career, Offline, and Online. Under Fight Now, you have the classic one on one fighting experience with options of three rounds, five rounds, or championship fight (which is also five rounds). The venue selection isn’t much, but then again, UFC venues rarely look different on TV so there’s that.

However, there are two new venues that aren’t just different, but completely wacky in an awesome way. You have the backyard with a steel cage that would make Kimbo Slice proud (R.I.P.). In addition, you have the Kumite Arena, which looks like something straight out of Bloodsport and Mortal Kombat! Which leads us to…

Knockout Mode. Two fighters enter. One leaves in remotely decent condition. Fortunately or unfortunately, there are no wacky Fatality moves in Kumite. But it’s still fun — unless you’re the one getting knocked out.

If you want to fight standing WITHOUT needing a knockout to win, you can play Stand and Bang. Then there’s Custom Fight where you can customize matchups and rules as you see fit. And if you want to prove you’re a better promoter than Dana White and Scott Coker, you can get really creative by building your own events from top to bottom like I did.

I called my event Fall Brawl after the classic World Championship Wrestling PPV series. Don’t judge me.

On the online side of things, you have Online World Championship, which is ranked competitions against other players online, Blitz Battles where the rules constantly change, and quick fight if you’re looking for a random challenge. You can also invite friends that have EA UFC 4 to play, as long as you’re all subscribed to either PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold.

And speaking of play… How’s the gameplay?

Well, UFC 4 picks up where it left off in UFC 3 and continues to be a relatively smooth experience on the feet. In fact, it’s gotten even smoother as transitions into the clinch are as seamless as ever, giving you a much more realistic fight feel. As for the ground game, it’s significantly improved from the monstrosity that was that stupid up, down, pass it around mini game in UFC 3 when applying or defending submissions.

In UFC 4, they use a refined version of WWE 2K’s meter mini game. Overlap your opponent’s meter and eventually, it’s tap, snap, or time to take a nap. The ground game still isn’t totally perfect. At times it can be a little clunky when trying to pass or defend transitions or even defending takedowns. But it’s a huge step in the right direction compared to past EA UFCs and makes the ground game actually fun — as it should be. After all, the sport is called mixed martial arts.

Just don’t button mash and use your stamina wisely because gassing out will leave your fighter susceptible to a finish.

On commentary, we get Jon Anik and Daniel Cormier. No Joe Rogan this year, but Anik and DC are pretty awesome. DC has no issues poking fun at the fact he’s commentating his own fights either!

So what’s the verdict?

Graphically, I give EA UFC 4 an 8 out of 10. A nice looking fighting game for sure. The KO replays could be a little more detailed, especially in finishing sequences, but not a bad looking game at all. The Kumite and backyard venues are definitely a nice touch, but it’d be great to see more wacky arenas in future updates.

Gameplay, I give EA UFC 4 an 8. The ground and clinch game is so much better than UFC 3, even if transitioning/defending isn’t as responsive as maybe it should be at times. Luckily, you also have a diverse array of strikes at your disposal to get the job done.

Content, I give EA UFC 4 an 8. I don’t have too many complaints in this department. More so, some suggestions. It would be nice to have a full blown Community Creations section similar to WWE 2K, giving gamers more replay value and the ability to customize arenas, download non-UFC fighters like the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, and showcase their creativity to the max.

It’d also be nice to have a straight up Career Mode without having to start from the bottom, similar to team sports games like Madden and NHL. It’d be cool to start out as number one ranked Gilbert Burns or another top contender already in the UFC, but the ranked battles online should make for that.

The added cutscenes this year are a nice touch, but some more voiceovers from key UFC players such as Dana White, Joe Rogan, Conor McGregor, and even cover athletes Israel Adesanya and Jorge Masvidal would be pretty cool.

Overall, TSC Gaming gives EA Sports UFC 4 an 8 out of 10.

At its core, EA UFC 4 is a fun game worthy of your time. Win, lose, or draw, we’d recommend picking up this game if you’re an MMA fan or a gamer looking for a new fun game to pass the time during this crazy period we’re all in.

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