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The real UFC is full of sentimental, if brutal, glory. An underdog can get lucky and beat the champion with the first strike of a bout.
The most enduring star can win in a way that no one has ever seen before, furthering strengthening their legend. Ronda Rousey beat Cat Zingano in 14 seconds using a combination of dodge, counterattack and submission that most would think impossible. Such moments of shock and awe don't happen here. UFC 2 is too sterile, too rigid, and too predictable to ever feel like a genuine representation of a sport that has built a dedicated audience thanks in large part to the reality that anything can happen at any moment.
Of course, replicating this most fundamental aspect of sport is no easy feat for any video game - particularly one that must simultaneously offer both balance for casual players and hardcore simulation. It's reasonable to expect to be able to tangle with one another and have the superior, more skilled player coming out on top. Having the more skilled competitor being defeated by the first strike landed against them whether that's in the first round or the third simply wouldn't be fair in terms of game balance.
So instead of attempting to be a genuine recreation of the UFC, then, developer EA Canada's approach is to provide an accurate representation of mixed martial arts' core mechanics within a visual wrapper that is impressive to behold.
In this regard, UFC 2 can be considered a success. Likewise, without question this is one of the most visually impactful sports games ever made, competing with NBA 2K when it comes to athlete likenesses and FIFA in terms of animation variety. Every tattoo adorning McGregor appears to be within a single pixel of accuracy, every one of Rousey's tightly packed upper-body muscles flexes powerfully as each jab is thrown. Combine this with the sheer variety of attacks at your disposal and it was nearly impossible to not be impressed by the visual spectacle even after hours of play under my belt.
Throw a punch during this momentary disconnect with reality and you're treated to seeing a professional fighter look like a drunk. Awkward moments are thrown up, as they were in EA Sports' UFC release, when a fighter's position is quickly and dramatically altered.
This is particularly noticeable after you've just dropped your foe to the canvas with a solid strike, it Takes a second for your fighter to register that the target is no longer standing right in front of them.
Throw a punch during this momentary disconnect with reality and you're treated to seeing a professional fighter look like a drunk as they harmlessly swat away at the air in front of their face.
Otherwise, the animations have been masterfully constructed in a manner that allows you total control over individual actions. It's when you're on your feet that things are at their most powerful; the best strikers able to execute combos as fast and as accurately as you can input them.
Softening up your opponent with a few leg kicks before peppering the head and body with punches is an art unto itself and, as long as you pit yourself against quality opposition, one that takes significant practise to execute flawlessly. Take the fight to ground with a wrestling or Brazilian jujitsu specialist, however, and the action is less impressive. Transitioning between positions of varying levels of dominance is assigned to the right stick, as it was in the UFC, with the 'full mount' position tending to represent the hallowed ground from which fights are generally won.
Welcomingly, when the fight hits the mat a small icon appears indicating which position each stick movement will seek to secure.
This takes away the boorish memorisation that was needed in the past and allows you to concentrate solely on outwitting your opponent and manipulating their body in such a way as to make defence difficult.