If you noticed in my EA UFC review, I sort of took a battle axe to career and kept hitting it in the head until there was nothing but blood, bits of skull and mush left. I was a bit harsh on the career mode overall, but to be honest, EA had it coming. When you put the team behind the Fight Night games in charge, you expect a damn good career mode.
The career mode here, well it’s not. It’s actually quite bad and most of all it’s repetitive with little to no variety. You also have to remember, by not adding another other modes of gameplay like I mentioned in my review, career mode would have to carry the game. Since it doesn’t do that, it deserves the criticism that has been leveled at it thus far. I’m not the only person who’s noticed this; many video game websites have rallied against the career mode.
Mike Dolce and The UFC Gym
When Madden first starting doing Superstar Mode Terrell Davis was your mentor and it made sense. Your player was drafted in the lower rounds and Davis was the 196th pick in the NFL draft. So, it made sense that you had a guy who rose from low round pick to superstar as your mentor. Mike Dolce as your mentor makes no sense. I’m sure Mike Dolce is a swell dude and his Dolce Diet seems to help a lot of fighters in the sport today. Yet, this is the guy that they pick to be your mentor? No offense to Dolce, but he’s not the first guy that I would think of to be the mentor in career mode.
You’d think that a guy like Greg Jackson or Duane Ludwig would be the guy to play mentor in the game. Since they hyped up having to go through the Ultimate Fighter to get in, why pick a guy who lost in the first round of the TUF tournament? I’m not making fun of the guy at all, but he just doesn’t scream mentor to me. If you wanted a TUF alumnus, why not go with Forrest Griffin? He’s pretty funny, won the first season, coached a season and was the first guy to win a title from the show. Compared to Dolce, who is seemingly reading off of a script while watching television or something, Griffin would make training interesting. You train in the UFC Gym for your entire career and I mean your entire career. Wanna go train at Jacksons? Sorry, you gotta play Undisputed 3 in order to do that. While that may not seem bad at all, the problem is that once again there is no variety towards training at The UFC Gym. Every now and then, a fighter will visit the gym and you get to spar with them. So far, Dan Henderson and BJ Penn have dropped by in my career mode.
While this seems like something that could be really cool, you just do the same drills that you usually do. You don’t learn any cool moves from them or unlock anything special; it’s just sparring with a guy who isn’t the generic training partner. If you were invited to train with the guy after the sparring sessions, it would be interesting. Especially when these guys have gyms of their own so it would make sense. In the end, you’re stuck at the UFC Gym until your career is over, so that means no training elsewhere to learn new moves. They made that irrelevant by giving you the option to buy new moves, which isn’t bad at all but have the fun of career mode was traveling to different gyms and learning this move or that move. Since moves are cheap, all you have to do is save up a nice amount of evolution points and buy up. It takes the fun out of traveling to all these different gyms and eventually committing to one.
Train, Fight, Wash, Rinse, Repeat and Lack of Options for Opponents
We all know what this section is about; it’s what most reviewers have hit the game on. You train; fight, train, fight and you do this for forty fights. Yep, there is no option to retire your fighter you keep doing it until you hit that magic number. So, if you’re fighter ends up a brain damaged shell of himself and a threat to others, you still have to play through to the end. The only other way you could end it would be to delete your career and never start one again. What was interesting to me was that the training rarely reflected the fighter I was going against. I was set to face a high level wrestler and none of my training options reflected anything about grappling or takedown defense. Luckily my opponent did nothing but throw the same overhand right and I picked him apart, but then came the big one, which plays into point number two.
After moving up into facing regular opponents, I got a title shot against Cain. It should be noted that my opponents were Travis Browne (Legitimate enough) and Pat Berry (LOL) and now I found myself looking at a title shot. Cain in a 99 and just about kill you with two really good power punches, my guy is a 77 overall. I got Thai Pads, Submission and Heavy Bag for training options, nothing on blocking or using footwork to avoid Cain’s KO power. I did win the fight by controversial split decision and proceeded to defend against: Travis Browne, Cain again, Cain, Junior Dos Santos, Cromier, Junior again and finally Cromier for the second time. You know what would make career interesting? If the champion of the lower division would challenge you to a super fight, something to break up the monotony of facing the same guys. Or even going overseas and defending the belt in PR-
Oh yeah, you guys got rid of that.
In the previous games, you could pick and choose what opponents you fought so you could slowly build your guy over time. If you wanted to take things slowly you could pick and choose while slowly moving up the ladder or you could be aggressive and pick the bigger fights. Now, I would prefer to pick the route of going fight by fighter when my skills weren’t up to par and then gamble when my skills were ready for that. Now, you just get the fights that Joe Silva sends you. I presume this for realism but I also hope that I can complain about pay and get buried by Dana White in the press. Or, if you’re a lower rung fighter, deciding rather eating or paying the electric bill with your fight pay and small sponsor check.
Gotta have that realism.
Snarkiness aside, I’m going to talk about my idea for potentially improving career mode and hopefully somebody from EA reads this. Probably not.
1. Develop a Character
This is where the MMA purists begin to cringe; being able to develop some form of character in career mode would make things interesting. I’m not talking a Chael Sonnen level of being an a-hole, but it wouldn’t be bad to spew some trash talk. You can either go the route of being a GSP like sportsman or go the route of talking trash. Heck, it could have a profound effect on your opponent in the fight, your opponent comes out aggressive going for the kill and you can capitalize on that by hitting some key counter moves. It wouldn’t be much, just something to make career mode interesting which would play into my second recommendation.
2. Develop Rivalries
Like I said, once I won the title in career mode that was basically it, you’d face the big names and then move on to facing randomly generated fighters. I thought that by facing Browne again that I defeated in an eliminator fight and I thought that we’d get a video from Browne or some acknowledgement that I beat him. Nope, just the usual message of you having to face all up and comers. Shouldn’t Browne be my bitter rival since I took away his chance at a title shot? Instead, it’s just treated as a regular old fight; Browne comes out and fights like it is some normal fight. There’s no hype video, no weigh-in stare down or even a threatening video message from Browne or a message from Dana. Overall, develop some rivalries in career mode to add some depth towards the fights.
3. Go the TUF Route or Travel the World
While adding The Ultimate Fighter was a good idea, they really didn’t do much with the concept overall. You didn’t really learn much, the coaches only appeared in messages and you didn’t do any training with them. I’m all for TUF, but they would have to fine tune the basic concept of TUF. I say that your fighter should have the choice of going through TUF and traveling the world, the same way you could in EA MMA. Even better, the game could make usage of the dead promotions that the UFC owns such as the WEC and Strikeforce.
Fight your way from the bottom, maybe go through the dead World Fighting Alliance or throw a bone to King of The Cage for the starter league. If you’re a lower weight guy you can work your way through the WEC to get a contract and same thing for the upper weights in Strikeforce. If you go the route of fighting outside of the UFC, you arrive in the UFC a well-rounded and polished fighter and find yourself in fights against actual opponents right off the bat. Go the TUF route, win it all and slowly go the route of fighting up from the bottom.
4. Realistic Training Calendar
The one thing I have never gotten about career mode in most MMA games is that you can do a few activities and then fight. So, I say have a realistic training set-up, you dictate that level of training you want to do that day: Hard, medium, and easy. If you train hard you can get more XP but you can wear your fighter out by picking hard too many times. You would have to find a middle road with the level of training you pick each day so that you don’t wear your fighter out, but you have built your fighter up for the upcoming fight. You should also have the ability to pick what exactly you want to have your fighter train in such grappling, striking, cardio and strength. It’s not much, but it’s better than stuck with the same three options.
5. Train Where You Want to Train or Bring in Partners
So there you go my suggestions to make career mode for the next EA UFC better than the one we got. The insane thing is that I believe most of my suggestions came from previous UFC games or the EA MMA game. That’s why those games had better career modes and EA UFC’s career mode is the…inster bad movie here of career modes.
I’m gonna go play WrestleFest now.
Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.