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EA UFC 5 video game review: Is it worth buying?

The fifth title of the EA UFC game series releases today (Oct. 27, 2023) for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. And while there much to enjoy about the game, it also leaves a lot to be desired. Thanks to a pre-release opportunity, I have played through the career mode (and other game modes) to determine if UFC 5 is any better than its predecessor(s). Let’s dig in ...

Gameplay

Let's get the most important aspect of the game out of the way: gameplay. Forgive me, as I'm not the most technical regarding the actual striking, but the game is straightforward, yet there is a lot to it. Simply put, the gameplay is very good.

Realistic damage is a massive thing in the game. You must protect your fighter's face because if you don't, cuts and severe swelling will develop, leading to a doctor's stoppage. If a nose is broken during the fight, the fighter will lose stamina because of the breathing change.

Of course, face damage isn't the only thing that needs to be worried about. Leg kicks need to be checked or the fighter will be at a disadvantage ... or even stopped (I won 10 fights straight until someone started checking my leg kicks).

The submissions have been dumbed down, which is a significant positive, especially for casual gamers. One of the complaints about mixed martial arts (MMA) games is, "I don't know what to do when I get taken down." Well, now there are very basic controls (for the most part), and while it is similar to UFC 4, the submission mini-game is gone.

Graphics

UFC 5 looks incredible, and I'd argue you can put it up against any sports game right now. For the first time in franchise history, the Frostbite engine powers the game, and it looks wonderful. Currently, there is a lot of criticism of the franchise moving to the Frostbite engine because it has "ruined" other sports games such as Madden and FIFA. I'd be lying if I knew about the Frostbite Engine's pros and cons; however, it looks excellent.

Blood and sweat can be seen throughout the fight, heightening realism. Cinematic knockout replays have been added to the game, and it is a welcomed addition because watching a clean slow-motion head kick is so pleasureful.

Career/Game Modes

Sadly, career mode is virtually identical to UFC 4. There are some changes such as having Valentina Shevchenko as a “coach” and having your sparring sessions graded, but other than that, it is a copy and paste from last year (which stinks). I ran through career mode in 14 hours and became the G.O.A.T., holding the Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight titles and winning all but one fight.

While career mode is the same, UFC 5 now includes “online career mode,” one of the most requested game modes.

“Fight Week” has been added, which connects the game to real-life UFC cards. For example, for UFC 294 last week, there were several challenges with fighters on the card in-game such as defeating Islam Makhachev with Alexander Volkanovski on hard mode. While nothing special, it is a cool addition with more content.

UFC 5 Roster

The biggest negative of EA UFC 5 by far is the roster. There are zero new fighters from UFC 4 except Mike Tyson, Fedor Emelianenko, Muhammad Ali and a returning Bruce Lee. The roster is exactly the same as UFC 4 — and that game came out three years ago — which is unacceptable. Countless fighters are missing, including more than 20 Top 15-ranked fighters such as Sean Brady, Ian Garry, Bryce Mitchell, Geoff Neal, Jalin Turner and Adrian Yanez, among others. Fan favorites like Drew Dober, Nate Landwehr, Manel Kape, Gregory Rodrigues and Jack Shore (among others) are missing, too.

Having an un-updated roster makes zero sense. And if the game relies on players to buy DLC, then that just stinks even more.

MMAmania.com recently asked UFC CEO, Dana White, about the lackluster roster; however, he believes there are only so many spots for fighters. He did agree to take out a couple of fighters who are no longer with the promotion anymore, but “f—k you!” Bruce Lee is staying in the game ...

Final Score: Should You Buy It?

If you played UFC 4, sadly, you've already played this game. As I said, it is the best-looking fighting game I've ever seen, but I'm not sure that makes the game great.

I'm easy to please, so I'm leaning toward a C+ (or a 6.5 out of 10).

Now, should you go out and spend $70 on the game? Probably not. You should wait for it to drop $20 because it is simply UFC 4 with some new features and better graphics. If the game had an updated roster, spend the money, but I cannot recommend a game with a lackluster, un-updated roster.

If you buy it, come back and tell us what you think!

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