EA’s UFC 2 is finally here, and it touts all of the joint-popping, ligament-tearing, blood-spilling action that fans see on PPV every month. By mixing the hard-hitting style of the brand with some surprisingly deep gameplay mechanics, EA has created the best MMA experience to ever hit consoles.
There’s another thing about UFC 2 you need to know: it’s not easy.
Though it might be tempting to jump into an online contest or career mode right away, there is just too much to learn for that to actually work. Fights can be over within seconds, and with all of the counters, submissions and strikes you have to learn, it’s more than likely that your first few bouts won’t be highlight reel material.
Luckily, the game shares plenty of tips and practice modes so fans can learn their craft before stepping into the bright lights of the Octagon. Still, there’s a lot to know, and many of the essentials aren’t taught by the game — they’re learned through experience and, most importantly, through painful losses.
So before you go into a fight with guns blazing, check out these tips on how to turn yourself from jobber to legend in UFC 2.
Take Practice Seriously
Fancy yourself a UFC expert? Why not — you watched UFC 196 a few weeks back and maybe even took a beginner’s MMA class at your local gym, so that means you don’t need to waste your time with UFC 2‘s Practice Mode, right? Well, that’s probably the quickest way to find yourself staring up at the lights before the Octagon Girls even have a chance to come out for the second round.
Not only isn’t UFC 2 for beginners; even hardcore fans of the sport and people familiar with the game franchise will be lost in the weeds right away. In a blink, you can be mounted by a striker or tied up by a submission specialist with only mercy standing between you and humiliation. That’s why you need to take the Practice Mode and Skill Challenges seriously.
Learn the ropes (or the cage): get familiar with the submission system, learn all of the counters and get comfortable with the branching nature of the grappling mechanics before you even start a competitive bout. Practice mode will let you grind and pound on either static opponents or simplistic foes that put up just enough of a fight to make things interesting.
My advice? You shouldn’t be hopping online or into a genuinely competitive fight for at least an hour to an hour and a half. If done right, you should be able to comfortably slide into the digital board shorts of any striker, grappler or submission machine on the roster after you’ve gone through the rigors of Practice Mode.
Find Your Style
I love the idea of submissions in MMA. The thought of scientifically bending and contorting an opponent’s limbs into all manner of acute and obtuse angles appeals to my inner sadist. However, I am objectively terrible at it in UFC 2. Holding on to a submission for me is like trying to tango with a bar of soap during a rainstorm. I had to adjust — I had to find something else that worked for me.
So what did I do? I headed back into Practice Mode and learned all about takedowns, grappling and grounded strikes. Soon enough, I was throwing opponents around like Bruno Sammartino, and pummeling them into a quick TKO.
It wasn’t how I set out to play, but that adjustment made all the difference. While it’s important to work at different strategies, you also have to realize that you might not be meant for certain fighting styles. Find what works for you, and build a championship career around it.
Don’t Get Pinned Down
The last place you want to be in UFC 2 is on your back — unless you’re going for a triangle choke or quick armbar. But once your opponent mounts you and starts raining blows down upon your formerly gorgeous mug, the fight could be over before you even realize what’s happening.
How do you avoid this? Learn. Those. Counters. Don’t try and slip out from underneath a mounted opponent, because it might already be too late. Instead, make sure you don’t wind up there in the first place. You can absorb a few standing strikes, and once you understand the submission system you can slip out of a hold without much of an issue, but those mounted punches can be absolutely killer, no matter how seasoned you are.
The same applies to getting stuck against the cage with no retreat. Movement is the key to UFC 2, and once your opponent cuts off your retreat, it’s all over.
Some of you won’t be cut out for submissions or grappling or the scientific side of MMA — some of you will just be outright brawlers. And while there’s nothing wrong with punching your way to the top, it can play havoc with the game’s stamina system.
Stamina in UFC 2 is an unforgiving beast, and if you find yourself throwing big haymakers and jumping knee shots all the time, you’ll soon wear yourself out and leave yourself open to a quick tap out. It seems so easy to just reach back and go for the knockout blow whenever your opponent is within reach, but these big swings also cost huge amounts of energy. Soon, you’ll find yourself more lethargic and your punches will have about as much impact as a frat boy’s fist bump.
So pick your spots. Mix up your punches and kicks to throw off your opponent’s blocking strategy, and make sure you’re not wasting blows on an opponent that is too far away to reach. Also, remember to lay off and retreat to the opposite side of the Octagon so you can recoup your energy a few times per round.
While stamina will recover between rounds, if you’re too hard on your fighter early on, it will begin to deplete quicker and won’t reach full capacity again as the bout wears on.
Know Your Fighter’s Weaknesses
Let’s say you’re a big Ronda Rousey fan — which, you should be, she’s incredibly frightening, even in her digital form — well, instead of just jumping into a fight with her, you should take a little time to read up on her stats.
It’s not only important to find out what she’s good at, it’s even more important to know where she doesn’t excel. Your favorite fighter might be a great submission artist, but they could also be susceptible to the ground-and-pound game or maybe they don’t really have the durability to mix it up in a standing strike back-and-forth.
Like my tip about knowing your style, knowing your fighter’s stats and weaknesses is essential to getting the win. You might be a great striker, but your favorite striker might also be terrible at escaping submissions. And if you’re up against a submission specialist … well, that just spells trouble.
UFC 2 is a constant ego check. While it’s important to know what you can do well, it’s even more important to know your deficiencies. And if your own gameplay deficiencies line up with your fighter’s in-game deficiencies, then you might not be a perfect match after all.
It might seem like all punching, kicking and jugs of whey protein powder, but UFC is all about strategy, and the game is no different. Become a student of the game, and you won’t wind up a bloody heap.
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