On July 11th, Electronic Arts surprisingly announced UFC 4, the new offshoot of the martial arts series, as part of the UFC 251 martial arts event - and the video game was released on August 14th. We went into the ring for you to find out whether EA will ring in the final gong with UFC 4 or the next round.


The UFC is celebrating all over the world now. Tough guys, but also women, knock in a cage for splendor and fame. The show is of course a little part of it when the fighters entered the arena to thunderous applause, against which gladiators are fighting in ancient Rome. EA has since created a simulation and has already started round four with UFC 4. We'll tell you in our test whether UFC 4 made us a fighter.

Knock for the career

Who knew: UFC 4 actually wins without the Ultimate Team. Though the way it plays an important role in other sports titles (mostly for publishing accountants, of course), the EA foregoes that here. You lead individual fights according to different and very freely configurable rules (e.g. without a fight on the ground), create tournaments, take part in the world rankings via online competitions or invite friends. But you don't bring fighters together to build a stronger team.

And of course you're going through a career where you don't make anyone a Hall of Famer. It's still at the heart of the game, starting with the extensive, either very quick, creation of a female alter ego before finding themselves in the camp of fictional Coach Davis. Newcomers learn the basics, comment on daily training sessions, are present at every fight and thus give lively feedback and thus serve as a kind of narrative support. Fortunately, you don't have to endure the set story so the focus is on coaching your own skills and struggles.

The rhythm is always the same: accept the fight and decide how many weeks you want to train for it. Each week you have a limited amount of time to practice various sparring techniques to keep the hype surrounding the upcoming duel on social media (fun is short sparring rings that appear to be filmed by a 4: 3 camera), one study upcoming opponents and improve relationships with other fighters. Occasionally they also speak on some kind of Twitter and that after the reaction improves or worsens the relationship with them.

All of this is important, but it is essentially portrayed as a sober shovel of values ​​because bad relationships with opponents, for example, do not lead to cool (or even silly) rivalries that can be unloaded at the weigh-in, but only serve a small playful purpose. More specifically, you can invite other fighters to learn new techniques from them, and the more you agree with them, the less money the invitation will cost. There is no more. In fact, the weighing isn't even shown. There are certainly no pictures of the booths at the venue, nor is there an interview for the ring after the fight - just a short pseudo Instagram cut, but in no way captures the sleder of a UFC event.

Presentation with gaps 

In general, the presentation is one of the biggest weaknesses in this edition. For example, the EA has only licensed three referees and I miss the credible staging pauses between the rounds, because short shots from both angles are already the highest feelings while the coaches' comments or even tactical advice wait in vain. It's also a shame that Joe Rogan didn't like the recordings in the recording studio, but of course you can't blame the EA, especially since a good replacement for Daniel Cormier was found. Along with Jon Anik, the duo is quickly repeated and sometimes completely wrongly analyzed, but all in all it is not considered disruptive.

There are also unfortunate drops in the transition between different camera angles outside the octagon and during a fight in one of the fantasy arenas. There you just have to compete during the textbooks as part of your career so it's not because of neat if not impressive tech - I prefer to miss the staging that makes the posatry of the UFC tangible. It doesn't even highlight the current event in any way so you never know if you are on the main map or sub map and who is still fighting. Even individual players, as they existed in the predecessor, are completely missing.

Much better and more interesting is the revamped character development, where every technique it performs results in a small increase in skill. Since there are only five levels at a time and you can get to level two very quickly, it is not difficult to practice new strokes or task grips. But it takes a long time to perfect, so you should specialize or be satisfied with the all-rounder. After all, the length of a career is limited because each fight lowers its own “lifespan”. In other words, at some point it just won't go away.

Injuries can reduce longevity even further and also stop character development as they lower different values. To prevent this from happening, it is necessary, among other things, to invest and experience that, of course, would otherwise not be available. In contrast to training techniques, a man “pays” for the development of general values ​​- these include fitness, clout or the speed with which transitions are carried out - and in the classic way with experience points. UFC 4 thus not only reflects the advantages of well-thought-out training, but also the risks of the sport.

The techniques shown are particularly effective in all training units, which is why the choice of sparring partner is crucial. Each session consists of sparring with a boxer, kickboxer, wrestler, Muya Thai or Brazilian Jii-Jitsu fighter who sets priorities. And if you train several times with the same partner in the weeks leading up to the fight, you will get more and more experience points per sparring, which makes it even more important to focus on certain aspects. That is why it is all the more important to study the next opponent. It costs valuable time, but it's worth it if you want to step up your own fight before meeting a wrestler - or then just want to watch out for stand-up.

UFC 4: EA has also thought of beginners

The EA seems to want to make it easier for beginners this time; In any case, this can be taken not only from a simple career start, but also from a simplified fight on the spot. On the mat, all you need to do is push up the left analog bar to improve the position by eventually getting up again. When you hold the stick to the left, the alter ego tries to get into a position from which you can perform submission. And when you push the stick to the right, you're trying to create a floor and pound position.

So you don't have to worry about which transition to make and when. But it is also very boring to watch two people lying on the floor and sometimes changing positions, but often not. Also strange is that sparring occasionally requires reaching positions that cannot be purposefully reached through automatic transitions. The developers should have handled it differently.

Fortunately, this new floor game can be turned off anyway or just used as a support while, as in previous years, you use the correct stick to perform the transition as well as the task handles. After all, it works well even if both fighters sometimes stop completely before moving again. In general, I don't like the fact that you are just searching long distances before the next action can be selected. In this way, you can protect yourself from blows, for example, by holding your hands in front of her face, but not actively attracting the opponent for yourself. At such moments, both fighters wait until the game decides that the striker will get back on track. All of this is more reminiscent of the tactics of the circle than the constant urge and movement of the fight.

But that doesn't mean the fight on the ground is a disappointment because basically UFC 4 catches the snapshot on the mat very well! With classic controls you have several options for action in almost all situations, you have to correctly assess the abilities of both fighters and their current state, you can counter transitions with good reactions, should weaken the opponent with blows and can rest to get a breath. He plays a very convincing profit game, both exhausting and tactically demanding.

Execution or defense grips of the task are also played convincingly, especially since a different mini-game is performed with strangulation than with levers: In the first, the attacker has to hold his marker within the opponent with an analogue rod, while in the case of the latter, he does this with shoulder buttons. It's way too boring against AI opponents, especially in defense, because their markings move extremely sluggishly and in very predictable patterns. At the latest in the online game, however, the attempts at submission gain tension.

However, the situation on the ground is really unfavorable, in which the camera shows the fighter from the front - and turns his right hand to the left. In other words, the right hand button for the stamp is not tied to the fighter's right hand, but depends on the current camera setup, making it unnecessarily difficult.

Infobox

Number of players: 1 to 2 players, online multiplayer
Age: from 18 (USK)
Difficulty: easy to medium
Long-term motivation: medium

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Canada
Year of publication: 2020
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Languages: German, Russian, Korean, Traditional Chinese, English, Portuguese (Brazil), Italian, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Spanish (Latin America), Polish
Cost: 69,99 Euro

Summary

UFC 4 is pleasantly extensive, playfully demanding and in many moments a very touching simulation of the sport, which above all provides a strong stand-up, but also captures the wrestling on the ground accordingly. The fact that fighting on the ground sometimes feels like a circle tactic is a shame, but all in all, it's fun to experiment with different types of fighters, adapting your tactics to the course of the fight, and getting the right measure for it to find the brave attack and the defensive counterattack.

It's just unfortunate that often athletes mimick themselves when returning to stand-up and that the controls on some camera angles are suddenly twisted. Lessons, on the other hand, consist of improving general skills through targeted training and sharpening specific techniques by actually improving them. This contributes to injuries affecting development because they set back progress a little.

I am increasingly embarrassed that a career on a normal level of difficulty is far from over, but the leap to the next level is already too big. And then there is the astonishingly weak presentation that captures neither the flair of the Ufc intoxication nor the character of central events, although even its predecessor was further on both points. A good game is therefore improved in some ways, but takes amazing steps backwards in others. But that is the general danger of a number of games. They can't please anyone and the above regressions aren't a gamebreaker.

Those who have played the UFC since the early days may be a little disappointed, but they are still having fun. For beginners, UFC 4 is the best chance to get some fighting air - then the UFC in its fourth edition is really fun.


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