EA Sports UFC 4 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 26.08.2020

Review for EA Sports UFC 4 on PlayStation 4

EA Sports UFC 4 sees the series continue its search for excellence in the arena of fighting simulators. It acknowledges what the series has got right with the previous three titles, while tweaking and evolving the areas that needed a bit of TLC. It's not the grand shake-up that UFC 3 was, and this is a good thing; its predecessor refined the experience and struck gold with its enhanced gameplay despite its shortcomings. While many of the series' niggles have been addressed in UFC 4, it remains a similar experience in many ways.

For starters, UFC 4 looks and feels absolutely fantastic to play. Most of the animations are excellent and often look genuinely lifelike, building upon the solid foundation laid in UFC 3. While the core gameplay is largely unchanged, the additions that serve to refresh the experience are certainly felt. Submissions, for instance, have been overhauled to reward precision when attempting an escape, and clinches no longer play like grappling on the ground does. Escaping a clinch is as simple as moving away from your opponent, which is realistically difficult, of course, when you're in a corner. For less experienced players, there's the new option of using the grapple assist system when on the ground, which essentially offers just three options with a flick of the right stick: you can try to stand up, manoeuvre towards a submission, or go for a ground-and-pound. Naturally, this doesn't touch the plethora of options available when it comes to choosing very specific transitions and so for more advanced players, there is the option for finer control when on the ground. Either way, this is a neat way of welcoming players of all skill levels.

Screenshot for EA Sports UFC 4 on PlayStation 4

UFC 4 goes out of its way to make its gameplay as accessible as possible. Career mode returns and operates as a decent extended tutorial on the game's many fighting mechanics. While said mechanics are versatile enough to allow new players to enter the ring with minimal preparation, they are also nuanced enough to reward careful study of the wide variety of punches, kicks, and grappling options available. Under the tutelage of fictional former-MMA fighter Coach Davis, your custom fighter is taken through a series of amateur bouts whilst learning the ropes. While the "story" offered up in career mode is quite weak - cringe-inducing dialogue and awkward MC interactions abound - it nevertheless offers an experience that will both ingrain the game's mechanics into new players and offer up some commercially-driven drama that dominates the real-life fighting scene.

When the basics have been mastered, the experience adopts the familiar formula of UFC 3's career mode - you get a fight offer and must choose how you prepare for it in the preceding weeks by allocating weekly points to various activities, such as training or building hype through advertising and social media posts. Rivalries are formed with other fighters depending on how you choose to engage with them (or not), which tailors the experience to the player. Further contributing to the bespoke nature of the experience is the introduction of the evolution system, which essentially "levels up" each individual move based on how often it's used in fights or training. This allows each player to craft a fighter based on their preferred play style, and the sense of progression can be very rewarding when it comes to fruition.

Screenshot for EA Sports UFC 4 on PlayStation 4

The cosmetic customisation options are also entertaining and it's good to see that EA hasn't taken it too seriously. Funny hairstyles, a ridiculously deep tattoo customiser, and various silly cosmetics are some of the highlights, which will no doubt excite streamers who delight in making as outrageous an MC as they possibly can.

UFC 4 also shines in its other modes. Ultimate Team has been removed completely in favour of a neat Blitz mode, an online mode that sees rotating rulesets introduced multiple times a day. While not as deep as the dearly departed UT, Blitz is a fun way of mixing up the action and making you adapt your fighting style, especially in instances when rounds are shorter or a win can only be achieved by knockout. There are also some cool new stages such as a backyard arena to keep things interesting, and, of course, the series' other staple modes are still very much intact. On the whole, this is a competent iteration of the franchise that plays it safe in light of the success of its predecessor. If you were hoping for an overhaul, this ain't it - but it hardly needed one anyway. For what it is, this is solid MMA fun in an enjoyable and well-polished package.

Screenshot for EA Sports UFC 4 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

EA Sports UFC 4 is a testament to the power an experience can have when it is wholly aware of its own identity. The gameplay is solid, online modes are good, and the career mode is more of the comfortable same that it was in UFC 3, albeit with a great tutorial mode to kick things off. UFC 4 is what a sport sim should be: simple enough on its surface to be fun right off the bat, but deep enough to reward those who practice long enough to become skilled. Oh, and it is very UFC, in case you were wondering. That's always fun.

Developer

EA Vancouver

Publisher

EA Sports

Genre

Sport

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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