The new part of the MMA simulation in the test

If you hear next to nothing about a game in advance and then it is published suddenly, that's usually not a good sign. Also about EA's mixed martial arts simulation UFC 4 there was next to no information before the release, but then the game was suddenly there. So we approached the title quite skeptically, after all, Part 3 had already made some gameplay elements from the predecessor worse. However, we were all the more surprised when we got into the Octagon. UFC 4 plays far better than Part 3 due to well thought-out innovations and adjustments and is clearly EA's best MMA game.

Of course, the developers at EA Canada have not completely turned the new part inside out. Hardly anything has changed in the presentation and no new game modes have been added. The career mode is now told a little differently than in the predecessor, but basically it comes down to the fact that your fighter first enters the UFC and then ranks there in order to win title fights and consolidate your legend.







The training sessions in career get a bit annoying over time.



The training sessions in career get a bit annoying over time.

Source: PC Games




The training this time is a bit more annoying than in the last part, because there are no more units in which your progress is simply simulated. You now have to do more sparring units and always play them yourself. Even if you have landed the specified number of specific punches or kicks on your sparring partner, you have to continue the training until the end of the timer.

Since the sparring and also the training units with well-known fighters, through which you can unlock new attacks, are mostly very simple, the way to the next fight sometimes works like occupational therapy. In addition, you could have told a real story. At first you are introduced to your career with cutscenes, but soon you just click through the menu to the next training session until the scheduled fight comes up.







The developers have a sense of humor and are now letting us compete in rather unusual places. But only in 'Play Now' mode.



The developers have a sense of humor and are now letting us compete in rather unusual places. However, only in "Play Now" mode.

Source: PC Games




Offline you can also set up quick fights and create and play tournaments and your own UFC events. You can choose whether you want to compete normally in MMA mode or in Stand & Bang, i.e. pure standing combat. Under "Play now" you can also play the knockout mode, which is very reminiscent of classic beat em ups. Just with the gameplay of UFC 4 (buy now for 65.95 €). Here the two opponents competing against each other have an energy bar and if that has been beaten away, the knockout blow takes place.

It's a good thing that the developers also put some humor into the game. For example, you can compete in a backyard cage, where the fighters are wearing denim shorts and have their hands taped with tape. Even more fun, however, is the arena, which is clearly based on the Mortal Kombat series, with a speaker who could have come straight from one of the Netherrealm Studios games. However, it is a bit of a shame that you are not allowed to use the two arenas mentioned for your own show cards or tournaments. With the latter you can at least give a damn about weight classes and let all fighters compete against each other. For example, a huge heavyweight like Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve against the (somewhat shorter) lightweight legend BJ Penn.

Online, however, you can compete in blitz fights, rapid fights or championships. But of course it is also very easy to invite a buddy and fight with him the whole time. The Ultimate Team mode, known from its predecessor and already strange-looking, no longer exists.






The gameplay is more accessible, but also more varied than in its predecessors.



The gameplay is more accessible, but also more varied than in its predecessors.

Source: PC Games




Resist steadfastly

But now we come to the gameplay, because with it stands or falls a game that aims to simulate the complex martial arts. Here the developers apparently listened very much to the criticism of fans and frustrated beginners. The game mechanics basically remain the same, but have been noticeably upgraded with a few adjustments. As in the previous versions, the left and right arm as well as the left and right leg are each assigned to an action button. With the direction keys you vary attacks and with the shoulder keys you block, vary the attack height and unpack stronger kicks and punches, which of course require more stamina.

When fighting while standing, the innovations are kept quite subtle. First of all, it is noticeable that the movements are more fluid and the actions are carried out more directly. This makes the fights a bit more dynamic. In addition, the developers have added many new actions and attacks, the execution of which will quickly become second nature. Many of the new attacks target the center of the body of the opponent, which means that you can fight with even more variety, as the fighting style in the UFC games has so far mainly focused on the head.







The takedown defense only works in the rarest of cases. A real nuisance!



The takedown defense only works in the rarest of cases. A real nuisance!

Source: PC Games




Above all, it's nice how you can use these attacks for takedown defense. For example, we managed a really nice knockout when our opponent started the takedown, but at that very moment we threw a mid-high knee forward. In general, precipitation and K.O. now a lot more realistic and understandable. When it rains, you can now follow up faster and switch to ground combat. Should you not be fast enough for this, the opponent will straighten up normally. In the previous one it looked like it was being pulled up again on a string.

However, we still have two criticisms to make. For one thing, leg kicks are still too powerful on a normal level of difficulty. It is still too easy to injure your opponent's leg and the fight is broken off. On the other hand, the takedown defense only works when the game feels like it. And mostly it doesn't feel like it.







The submission system works in a similar way to its predecessors, but is now much more accessible and understandable.



The submission system works in a similar way to its predecessors, but is now much more accessible and understandable.

Source: PC Games




So you should be prepared to be brought to the ground more often. However, it is nice that the ground combat has been significantly revised. Advanced users and professionals can continue to use the well-known system for transitions, in which all possible options are listed. Beginners and people who do not like ground combat can now use a simplified system that only lists basic actions.







Thanks to the simplified ground combat system, even beginners can get along better.



Thanks to the simplified ground combat system, even beginners can get along better.

Source: PC Games




Here you don't have to change position via full guard, half guard and maybe even side control to get into the mount and then perform ground and pound there, but can select the mount directly after a takedown. This is far more accessible than in the predecessor, but also offers a little less gameplay depth. We therefore recommend even beginners to switch to the old system called "Legacy" and rather to change something on the gameplay controls that are decoupled from the difficulty level set.

Here you can, for example, increase the speed of your own transitions and / or slow down that of the AI. With the entry-level system, you also miss out on newly introduced ground combat actions such as ground and pound from side control if you press the opponent's knee on the body.







Unfortunately, there are no more elbows and hammer fists at the Ground and Pound.



Unfortunately there are no more elbows and hammer fists at the Ground and Pound.

Source: PC Games




The submission system has also been changed slightly compared to its predecessor and is now played much more intuitively, as the AI ​​no longer constantly changes direction in the mini-game that is placed on top of each other without noticeably losing stamina. It is now a little easier to get your opponent to tap, but at the same time it is more understandable if your submission attempt fails or even if you have to tap yourself.

But even grappling while standing is now more than just hugging or kneeling to the head. The clinch can now be used in a more varied way to press the opponent against the wall of the cage, to use it for spectacular takedowns or to work on specifically injured parts of the body. Due to the large number of actions in the clinch, we would have liked a simplified system here, because beginners may have problems understanding and using the various grappling options.

We were also a little annoyed about the ground and pound, because obviously stroke variants were deleted here. Unfortunately, Elbows and Hammerfists can no longer be used. It's a shame, because otherwise UFC 4 is both the most accessible game in the series and the one with the most depth.

My opinion

"The best UFC part from EA so far."

As already written at the beginning of the article, I was skeptical at first because hardly anything had been heard about UFC 4 before the release. So I was actually counting on quite a cucumber. Well, you can be wrong. UFC 4 is definitely not perfect, because there are really not many game modes and the career is pretty repetitive after a nice start, but the gameplay is really strong. The title manages to be both beginner-friendly and to offer in-depth game mechanics. The small and large adjustments to grappling as well as standing and ground fighting ensure that you can fight with more variety than in any other MMA game. Only the poorly functioning takedown defense is a real nuisance.

Great presentation
Varied, dynamic gameplay
Greatly improved ground combat
More direct feedback on punches and kicks
Lots of new promotions
Revised grappling, improved clinch
Good introduction for beginners, a lot of depth for advanced
Good character models
Two additional nonsense arenas, …
… which can only be used in one mode
Takedown defense almost never works
Fewer stroke variations at ground and pound
Legkicks are too powerful
Quite uncreative career mode
Bad commentators (German and English)

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