The Top Ten Features That Should Be in EA UFC But Probably Won't Be
With the recent news that EA UFC is getting pushed back to March of 2014 at the earliest, speculation is rampant on the subject of what will or won’t be in the game. Rather than wax poetic on what could be in next year's most anticipated game, the decision has been made in the MiddleEasy editorial offices to list what we think won’t be in EA UFC when it releases sometime in 2014. Just so we can clear the air.
It should be said that working with EA over the years with EA MMA was one of our favorite working relationships ever. But I personally still remember Madden 2006 fiasco on the Xbox 360 like it was yesterday (shudder), and we need to be realistic with EA UFC being the first game in the series and dealing with the hardware changeover. We should temper our expectations, but we still fully expect it to be the best MMA game ever, even without these features listed below. Pressure's on, EA.
Haha, like this will ever happen. Seriously, as much as I actually like Origin amongst the sea of haters, the PC Master Race is also the black sheep of the gaming world. I would love to be able to put on shows and record everything with beautiful simplicity, or god forbid mod the game (to the likes of which I couldn’t even comprehend), but there is no way they would release the game on PC. It’s far too small of an audience, even though it would probably prove to be one of the most loyal and dedicated to making the game better and more complete. The community would probably be awesome too. Not to mention; mods are the gaming community's unsolicited interns. In my book, all companies should make at least cheap ports to PC just so they can nab great ideas and hire motivated people that create great things on their own. Valve and Blizzard style.
Let’s face it: this game will probably be a dual launch on next-gen systems and the current generation of consoles. This brings with it a major problem: would EA be willing to release two very disparate versions of EA UFC outside of graphics? Probably not, but I wish they would. A dual layer Blu-Ray holds 54GB of data, and far be it from me to tell EA what to use that space on, I will anyways, because this is my article. It should be used on the roster. Madden has the vast majority of NFL players in the game, and the UFC has about 370 fighters on the roster now (not to mention ‘classic’ fighters that need to be in the game), so can we get at least three hundred or so fighters in EA UFC? Is that too much to ask? Yes, probably. See, it’s a double edged sword: when Mortal Kombat had seventy characters, people complained (and rightfully so) about palette swaps and the ridiculous amount of ninjas in the game spawning from the Scorpion/Sub Zero template. But that was Mortal Kombat, this is a sport. To not have the majority of the roster is a borderline slap in the face to the fighters who have made it to the big leagues. Madden doesn’t feature the top 20% of the NFL, nor should this game. Is a lower level UFC fighter not equal to a third string NFL player? I don't know. And it doesn’t really get that personal.
Sadly, it will probably be too much work to make every fighter play differently, even if they don’t have to. Not to generalize, but Tyron Woodley and Jason High could and should both be in the game, just adjust some sliders and give High better submissions and Woodley stronger hands. I’m fine with them sharing a moveset.
Unfortunately, EA higher-ups won’t settle for simply moving some sliders around on a couple fighters. Better to make a higher quality game with fighters that have a high level of detail and polish. Which is something I can respect.
You’ll notice through reading this that I kind of hope some of the EA UFC career mode works like a mixture of Fire Pro Wrestling and Madden circa 2003-2006 with a fully fleshed fighter lifestyle (flying skull T-shirt optional) and calendar featured front and center in your life. In Madden back in the day, you would come up on media days where, in the days leading up to the draft for example, you had to answer inane questions that would either determine your draft position or what team you were picked by. I suggest the media questions in this should affect how the fans treat you by booing or cheering during your walkout, your sponsor money and even title shots. ‘Chaeling’ your way to a title shot should absolutely be an option in EA UFC. It could even make Joe Rogan and Goldberg make mention of the fact that you’re awesome on the mic. This was touched upon briefly with the post-fight interviews in UFC 2010, and those should be brought back as well.
It really comes down once again to time, space and money. Why have a media section with a complex audience reaction system if the game doesn’t play up to par? When it comes down to it, we all want the best playing game possible, so there’s little chance something like this would make it into the EA UFC 1.
You know how you could go fight in Pride either as a one-off or in a GP in UFC 3? Yeah, keep that in but also give us an option where Joe Silva and Dana White send you an invite to try out for TUF after putting together a decent run in the WFA or whatever lower-level organization they’ll have you fight in to get your career started. The fact that this could be made into a game in itself probably means we won’t see it happening, which is a bummer. But hopefully they can take a picture of the TUF gym and throw a quick tournament bracket together on top of said photo of the TUF Gym and push it through anyways. Make the fights a two-round exhibition match and you're good to go. Winner obviously gets in the UFC with a decent contract, loser possibly gets in with a smaller contract, and if you decide to not go the TUF route, it may take you longer to get to the octagonal show.
This actually seems reasonable and possible, but the question about FX or FOX Sports being involved muddies everything. Real life licenses like ESPN have been integrated before, but will they go through the trouble right off the cuff?
Madden has realistic dollar amounts for contracts, so why is it so hard to get realistic purses in an MMA game? From the UFC series, to EA MMA, the money in your career mode is almost always arbitrary and doesn’t reflect real-life contracts or how money is managed realistically in the sport. Give us the $65k bonuses (thanks Bryan Caraway), sponsor cash and show/win purses. Let us fight for bigger contracts, pay for training and doctors, and if we lose, cut us from the organization or tell us to move to a different weight class. Just don’t give us 3,000 ‘creds’ for a win with a 5k UFC Koin end of year bonus. Let’s do this right, and have it reflect the sport. The only question is, why would they start doing this now if they never have before? A couple reasons. I am in the extreme minority (I think) in wanting these ultra-realistic roleplaying options, and because they are probably busy getting the game to play well, and aren’t worried about the small details. Hmph.
Call me bitter, but I don’t believe this will happen until I see it, just because it never has happened. Yeah, that’s my reasoning.
So you chose not to tap out in your last fight and now you broke your arm. This means you miss a fight, a payday and you have to simulate through the calendar, missing training sessions and in general putting yourself in a tough spot financially. Sure, you can do some media, but if you aren’t a big star it just means you’re on the shelf and pretty much screwed until you’re healed. The doctor bills the promotion didn’t cover will also come out of your pocket, and all of a sudden you’re on the outside looking in on the UFC and you’re a year removed from your last fight. Sure, once you’re in the UFC you can pull a Derrick Rose -- you’re making the big bucks -- but when you’re in the early days of your career mode, this may mean taking fights you aren’t ready for because you’re sick of eating tuna and crackers every day.
This probably won’t be put in the game because no one wants to remind anyone that far too many fighters are totally broke coming up. Remember Pat Barry eating rice and ketchup before cashing his $120,000 check from the UFC?
As cool as it would be to press a contextual button and either go to sleep or have your limb snap, it probably won’t happen. It really should be implemented (especially if Ronda is in the game) but the amount of cash it would take to put this into EA UFC with enough animations of floppy limbs dangling to make it proper wouldn’t be worth it until after they get the core gameplay nailed down tight. The amount of scenarios and animations they would have to create might be too much for the first iteration of the game. The fact that they would have to motion capture/animate post-fight scenarios like Faber/Mizugaki, Frank Mir/Big Nog, and on and on would be too grueling when they're working on a new engine and possibly a few different versions of the game cross platform and generation. As simple as this would seem to be to integrate, I could see it being technically difficult to make happen from a collision detection and testing standpoint in the relatively short amount of time. This is also known as the time and money factor that I keep mentioning. Thus, not likely for this outing. I hope it happens though.
I have a feeling Art Jimmerson, a current UFC employee, would be completely willing to sign away his likeness to bring his one glove back into the Octagon. I’m sure it’d be difficult to get the majority of guys, but at the very least they should have the UFC Hall of Famer’s like Severn, Royce, Couture, the Shamrocks, Coleman and more already under contract between the two companies. After all, the Shamrocks and Randy are under contract with EA (we don’t know the extent of these contracts) and the UFC has those (in)famous lifetime videogame likeness contracts with some of their fighters, so why not recreate Shamrock/Tito? I kind of want to for some weird reason... I really don't know why.
Too bad politics and burned bridges for certain people will make this an impossibility (even though this would be a great way to stick it to fighters with names that rhyme with Sandy Foshure, *cough*). As far as a ruleset for the original UFC matches, they wouldn’t be very different from a Pride ruleset or the Vale Tudo ruleset in EA MMA. But I could see it being ruled out on the ‘human cockfighting’ factor. Embrace the past!
Sakuraba, Genki or any J-MMA guy that EA couldn't get in EA MMA or THQ couldn’t get in UFC 3, won’t be getting in this one. These guys have some crazy iron-clad contracts for their videogame likenesses in Japan and trust me - outside of a miracle it's not happening. EA has tried before and so did THQ when they were building UFC 3's roster. Why do you think Fire Pro had the made up names all the time? So unless some crazy cash is thrown around for someone only a few would buy the game for, don’t expect it to happen, even though we really, really wish it would. Pride may be dead for almost as long as it was alive, but ignoring Pride and its historic roster is like ignoring the AFC and NFC merger by the NFL. Hopefully they get who they can in the game and deliver a Pride experience much like UFC 3.
The only problem with that is the amount of time and cash that would be put into developing that when the game is called EA UFC, not EA Pride or MMA.
A few years ago I pitched an idea to THQ where a background dice-roll would trigger whenever a leg kick or wayward punch would land in the hitbox near a fighter's junk. Basically, when a strike landed within the nether-region, it would be a 1-100 chance that it would land as a nut shot. The fight would stop, then a movie or a minigame would play out where the fighter recovers. That 1-100 number is an example, the probability could be higher or lower, but we don't want every UFC fight to have a nut shot, just every 5-7 or so. Just like in real life. And every once in a blue moon we could see multiple nut shots. This is just another step in the direction of ‘simulation’ rather than fighting game. Just make the setting optional and everyone is happy. Unfortunately, something like this probably wouldn’t be put into the first iteration of EA UFC, even with the expanded development cycle.
Ultimately, it’s just way too niche and weird, even though when you think about it, what is a sport without fouls? And what is MMA without a stray shot to the junk?