Details continue to trickle out about the upcoming UFC game made by EA Sports (aptly named EA Sports UFC). The title's creative director, Brian Hayes, opened up on the game's progress recently in an interview with Cam Shea of IGN.com.
The thing he went into the most detail over was the game's graphics engine and the strides they are making with adding fighters.
What EA is focusing their efforts on is "full body deformation." What does that mean?
Well, we all know a fighter doesn't stay clean and stoic through every stage of a fight, but you wouldn't know it looking at previous MMA games. In reality, when a fighter throws a big punch, starts to really put pressure on that choke or eats a kick across the chin, you'll see their face grimace, their muscles tighten and their skin turn red. Full body deformation attempts to mimic that.
The other major stride is an improved clipping system. If you've ever played a video game on a modern console, you've probably experienced some sort of problem with “clipping,” where part of the model of a character or prop ends up going through something without any sort of interaction. It might be a character's collar staying in place as his his chin moves right through it, or it might be an enemy's elbow poking through a door.
In a sport like MMA, where a kick to the ribs sends ripples through the body and where a fighter wrapping his legs around an opponent is commonplace, having two bodies interacting in a realistic way is a must. The crew behind EA Sports UFC is working hard at making it look good.
The interview wasn't entirely what is good with the game, however. Hayes had some pointed words about what will likely be a relatively low amount of content. In terms of the number of fighters we may see available upon the game's release, he said:
We've had the ability to do head scans for more fighters than we will have time to create for the actual game. One of the things about this new partnership with the UFC is that we didn't have a pre-existing UFC game, we didn't have any of these fighters created previously, we didn't have an octagon created previously, so we're building everything from scratch.
Additionally, in terms of content past a straightforward fighting engine, he encouraged fans to dial back expectations.
The thing about Fight Night Champion, to put things in perspective, the Fight Night series went through Fight Night 2004, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4 and then we had Fight Night Champion. It took us a while to lock everything down, just from the core gameplay and features and modes standpoint, before we could try something really different, like Champion mode. So right now we’re heavily focused on locking down the core gameplay features and modes for EA Sports UFC. Whether or not we do a narrative-based cinematic experience in EA Sports UFC is TBD for the future.
This writer is a former video game journalist, and fans truly shouldn't get overly hopeful in terms of what they expect out of the first edition of EA Sports UFC. Whether a game is in the sports genre or not, first installments are rarely the most-polished products. The evolution of, say, Mass Effect or even THQ's UFC Undisputed series is marked, playing one after another.
Looking at UFC Undisputed 2009, the game has a limited roster, flimsy career mode and very little difference between individual fighters (southpaws didn't even fight left-handed). EA Sports UFC hopefully won't quite be so bare-bones, but it is unlikely it will feature as much content as UFC Undisputed 3.