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UFC 5 review

EA Sports UFC 5 Review

Unlike many other sports titles handled by EA, UFC doesn’t get yearly updates. That doesn’t stop UFC 5 from feeling like an iteration of UFC 4, however.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing: we very much liked UFC 4. There are some meaningful new additions and changes here, too. It’s just… it’s not quite the brand new experience we were expecting. In fact, unless you venture into certain modes, the additions in UFC 5 may not seem all that worthwhile for the asking price.

Jump into career mode, for example, and you’ll find that it’s very much the same as it was in UFC 4. You start out fighting in a backyard before getting the attention of the UFC. Then it’s on to the training camp, and after that stardom. Along the way you’ll earn points that can be used to develop your athlete, making them hit harder, be more competent when grappling on the ground, or however else you want to fight. The more you use the moves at your disposal, the stronger and faster they get, too. It’s engrossing and all, but chances are you’ve seen and done it all before.

The same applies to the Fight Now mode, where you can even still take part in true fighting game style Kumite matches. There are some new additions for those who are buying EA Sports UFC 5 primarily for its single player content, though. A new contracts mode offers up a variety of preset matches for players to complete, each with their own set playing styles and difficulties. These change regularly, and players will find themselves rewarded for emerging victorious. It’s also possible to predict the outcome of upcoming UFC matches, with rewards being doled out if you’re accurate.

UFC 5 review
Image credit: EA

It’s those who like to take the action online that will get the most out of EA Sports UFC 5, though, thanks largely to new online career mode. Creating a fighter just for this mode, you’ll compete against others via skill-based matchmaking. With four divisions in which to fight and a prestige system, it will likely prove to be a considerable time sink for those who like serious competition. If nothing else, it’s another place to create and grow a character, your choices here perhaps more important than ever.

Related: The Best Fighting Games on PS5

Ultimately, though, it’s the improvements at the core of the game that will determine whether or not you’ll really appreciate EA Sports UFC 5. While the game largely feels the same to play as UFC 4, there are new animations and they have generally been improved across the board. There are new physics, too, making hits feel much more impactful. To really appreciate these, a new cinematic knockout replay moment complete with slo-mo has been added, allowing you to see that powerful punch or kick that took your opponent down in all its violent glory.

Our favourite new thing in EA Sports UFC 5 is a reworked injury system, that actually has quite an effect on how the game plays out. Basically, this game is brutal, with cuts, swelling and bruises realistically building up on fighters’ faces as they go through the wringer. These injuries affect a fighter’s capabilities as well. A closed eye will affect a fighter’s ability to defend themselves, for example. It adds a new angle to each fight, with players clever to capitalise on injuries if they can, while those on the receiving end will have to fight while taking them into account.

UFC 5 review
Image credit: EA

There’s another gameplay element associated with being injured, too. If the referee gets a little concerned by the injuries a fighter has suffered, they might stop the fight in order for a doctor to take a look. Depending on what they decide, the fight might end right there and then. There’s more realism and unpredictability in UFC 5, then, making matches that bit more rewarding and exciting.

Our biggest issue with EA Sports UFC 5 remains the same as pretty much always: when the action gets taken to the ground. EA has once again done some work here, making transitions smoother and removing mini-games. It can still feel a little confounding and over-complicated at times, though. Those who take the time to master the transition and submission system will no doubt be rewarded, but many players will simply avoid being on the ground as its rarely as rewarding as a nice, clean hit that sends an opponent to ground.

There’s no doubting that EA Sports UFC 5 is the best representation of the sport yet, with stellar visuals and realistic animations now powered by the Frostbite Engine. There are some brilliant new features here, too, the most impactful being the gruesome injury system. For some though, the changes from UFC 4 might not quite be enough to convince them that it’s worthy of a purchase. That is of course unless they’re won over by the idea of an actual online career mode. EA Sports UFC 5 isn’t a reinvention of the series for the current-generation of consoles, but it at least has some advancements that make it somewhat compelling.


EA Sports UFC 5 Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of EA Sports UFC 5 is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

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