UFC 3 Review: An impressive return to the ring but there’s still room for improvement

AFTER a two-year hiatus, the EA UFC series is back with its third edition.

Conor McGregor is back on the cover and in the game’s introduction you’re treated to a number of cinematics about the Notorious’ rise as he prepares for a matchup against Tony Ferguson.

 Conor McGregor is the cover star of this year's UFC game
Conor McGregor is the cover star of this year’s UFC game

From the off, the fight presentations are slick, with the walk-ons, character animations and introductions all tied up in an impressive – if lengthy – preamble.

Once the pleasantries are out of the way, you’re thrown into the ring to fight as McGregor and the game is off and running.

What stands out right away is the quality of the stand-up action.

UFC was released on February 2 – You can buy it now from Amazon here

First look at new UFC computer game by EA Sports starring Conor McGregor

The fight mechanics have been overhauled since UFC 2 giving the game more emphasis on movement, which is immediately noticeable.

With the left stick exclusively used to control the combatent’s movement and the right stick controlling dodges and feints, the controls are more intuitive than before and allow for a more fluid fighting style.

This adds up to more realistic fights, with movement around the Octagon helping boxers keep their opponents at bay with flurries of jobs, and allowing brawlers and ground-game specialists to charge in from the peripheries to take down their adversaries.

The boxing elements of the game look great along with your usual variety of spinning kicks and furious combinations.

 Michael Bisping is included in the game's roster
Michael Bisping is included in the game’s roster

And you really feel the impact of the hits as certain strikes interrupt an opponent mid swing, killing their momentum and leaving them rattled.

Unfortunately, as in UFC 2, the ground game is less impressive.

Once the fighters are on the canvas, the action is controlled by a string of minigames that combatants have to struggle through to gain leverage and ultimately, submit or escape their opponent.

Different fighters have access to different moves and holds allowing them to gain the upper hand on the ground.


 Submissions are controlled by minigames
Submissions are controlled by minigames
 UFC president Dana White makes a few cameos in the game
UFC president Dana White makes a few cameos in the game

But frankly, the rotating of holds and submissions is a slow-paced grind that takes time to develop and completely distracts from the action happening on screen.

Although in EA’s defence, it’s hard to think of a manageable system that would allow the game to recreate the ground game of MMA accurately.

I spent my time playing the game getting off the deck at the earliest opportunity and resuming the excellent toe-to-toe action.

Career mode is handled well and does a good job of allowing players to develop their fighter, building up their skills, popularity… and social media following.

 Entrances are grand affairs in UFC 3
Entrances are grand affairs in UFC 3
 Ronda Rousey still makes an appearance in the game despite her signing for WWE
Ronda Rousey still makes an appearance in the game despite her signing for WWE

Training time is kept to a minimum in-between bouts, allowing players to really focus on the action in an enjoyable mode, which even on the easier settings can be challenging once the opponents start getting tougher.

Users can choose between exercises to boost their fighter’s stats, promotion opportunities (such as uploading their training videos to social media), training (to unlock new moves and perks) and sparring sessionsthat help to condition your contender and prepare for the upcoming opponent’s style.

Once you’re in the Octagon, your career is measured in contract objectives and rivalry bouts as you aim to become the GOAT (greatest of all time).

The action is punctuated with some cinematics featuring UFC president Dana White and it’s pretty engaging overall, although without the polish of FIFA’s Alex Hunter story arc.

 The stand-up action in UFC 3 is excellent
The stand-up action in UFC 3 is excellent

While some career modes in EA titles can feel stale pretty quickly, this one kept me motivated and I did enjoy battling through a good number of fights without getting bored.

I only had a brief foray into the online side of the game, and in my limited time everything everything looked put together well…although I did experience a few bouts of
lag in fights, which hopefully isn’t a recurring problem.

EA’s push to force a form of Ultimate Team into all of its sports titles was present again in UFC 3. Here it allows you to collect a number of fighters as cards in the same way you might do in FIFA or Madden.

But unlike the other two, you also get the chance to collect moves and perks to customise your fighters, which makes for an intriguing mode where you can create some supreme game-beating fighters.

 When the action gets taken to the ground, it's starts being less fun
When the action gets taken to the ground, it’s starts being less fun

UFC 3 Review – The Verdict

UFC 3 has made some notable improvements on the previous titles, and as mentioned above, the stand-up fighting action is superb with great mechanics in the game.

While the ground game is still something of a problem area, it’s not enough to stop this being a really fun title to play, complete with its resounding smacks and whacks as you slug it out through the weight divisions.

The career mode looks good and the online play plus Ultimate Team modes means UFC fans will get many hours of enjoyment out of the game.

Where can I buy UFC 3 the cheapest?

While the RRP of UFC 3 is a whopping £59.99, there’s plenty of opportunity to get it cheaper if you shop around.

The cheapest copy of the game we’ve seen since its release is on Amazon for £49 – Check here.

ShopTo often has discounts on the latest games – Check here.

And Very has been known to slash prices on popular titles – Check here.

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