EA Sports UFC
UFC looks similar to classic fighting games, wrestling, boxing, and other sports, but it's not totally like any of them. Some hands-on time with EA Canada's title proves that mixed martial arts is its own beast.
Having played a lot of the Fight Night boxing franchise, as well as having a cursory knowledge of your average fighting video game, didn't really help me. I was better off approaching the title and its controls as their own entity.
The face buttons represent your four limbs, and the right trigger is a standard block. The standard block will only mitigate some of the damage. To block all of your opponent's incoming force requires you to also hit the appropriate face button corresponding to the limb they are striking with. Time your right trigger and button press correctly and you'll not only parry their blow, but give you the chance to come back with one of your own.
Naturally, I started wailing on the buttons (including using the bumper buttons for special move modifiers), which wasn't a good move. I was losing stamina quickly as well as taking a fair amount of damage myself. In one match I was in, this lead to a very quick exit as my opponent knocked me out easily. Furthermore, not paying attention to my fighters' strengths and weakness' and fighting style, as well as my opponents', meant a lot of wasted energy.
Mixed martial arts is about more than punching and kicking, as grappling is also important. The right analog stick initiates your grappling moves, and by swiveling it to the side and then to the 12 o'clock position in a single motion (like a hook in Fight Night) transitions to different clinch positions. Do this motion while holding the left trigger, and you'll transition your opponent to the ground, where the submission game starts.
During this struggle, naturally your foe can try and get out of your moves by pushing down on the right analog stick at the right time, as well as block your strikes while you've got them pinned down. However, once a submission starts (there are 29 different submissions spread out over around 100 fighters), a new gameplay mechanic is introduced.
When a submission starts you'll see a colored border around the screen. Your opponent (represented by their own color, red or blue) will move their right analog stick in the four directions to try and escape. You must match these to stop them from pushing out of the submission. Meanwhile, you'll be given specific direction prompts for your left analog in order to go deeper into the submission.
There's nothing complex about the controls themselves, but things can happen so fast that clear thinking is necessary at all times to survive. It sounds easy when it's not even your real face that's getting pummeled on the mat, but even in a virtual fight the excitement and fear (okay, I said it) can get the best of you.