A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that EA Sports UFC 4 is a sports simulation for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game is the latest chapter in the EA Sports UFC game franchise, which tries to re-create the mixed martial arts sport. Violence is the point of the sport, and that isn't lost here, where the goal is to knock your opponent out or make them submit in the middle of the octagon. Players will use punches, kicks, chokes, and other martial arts maneuvers to injure and incapacitate opponents. Bruises and blood are frequently shown as a result of blows, and knockouts look brutal, with replays from multiple camera angles showing the decisive hit. Logos are frequently shown on fighters' trunks, as well as on the octagon itself, promoting brands like Reebok and Toyo Tires. Female fighters are shown in tank tops and shorts, while ring girls are shown in bikini tops and shorts. There isn't any offensive language in dialogue, but music in the game features uncensored rap lyrics, with frequent use of profanity throughout many songs. Finally, the franchise is known for complex play, and this installment is no different, so players will need to commit time to learning the moves as well as the best times to pull off a strike or submission against an opponent.
What's it about?
EA SPORTS UFC 4 is the latest installment in the mixed martial arts fighting franchise, and lets players take on the octagon with many of the world's best mixed martial artists. To answer fan favorite debates, players can pit fighters from different weight classes against each other to determine who the best might be. While you can take on opponents in the octagon in stadiums around the world, UFC 4 now lets you take on fighters in new arenas, like a fenced-off backyard, a street parking lot known as the Action Avenue, and a Kumite arena set in an underground cave. Aside from online matchups or quick fights, the main thrust of the game is the Career mode, where players create a fighter and choose a martial art to specialize in, and then try to move from obscurity to becoming the champ of the WFA (Dana White's contender series) or the UFC, or, potentially, the greatest of all time. New refinements include a system to build relationships and rivals with fellow fighters, as well as enhanced grapple assists during ground attacks and new submission mini-games. There's also the ability to sway and weave your way out of incoming blows, which can help set up crushing counterattacks or place you in the right position to unload a powerful blow. What's more, every single move you perform, from a simple jab to a complex submission, improves your fighter's skills, making them tougher to match up against in the ring. Can you become the greatest fighter of all time?
Is it any good?
While this brawler comes out of the corner with some new game features and fight refinements, it loses steam in the depth and replayability department. EA Sports UFC 4 is the latest installment of the long-running franchise, and has some nice additions to the standing game. New this year is the option to both block and sway from incoming attacks, which limits the number of counterattacks you can make but significantly decreases the damage you take -- which is vital to staying upright, especially when facing off against a kick-focused fighter or someone with a larger reach than your player. Additionally, new tweaks have been made to the ground game, with two new submission mini-games and some quick time events to give you an extra chance to provide damage or a chance to escape a hold. While the tweaks to the ground game help, it's still the weakest part of the fighting experience: Transitions still feel a bit clunky and unresponsive when you're moving from one stance to the next, and even with the new Grapple Assist mechanic to help you move into specific positions, like submissions or ground and pound, it's still not as smooth as the standing punches and kicks. Even the upright fights have issues, because your fighters will change stances at random, which can throw off your timing when you expect to throw one kind of kick and you get something completely different.
These issues are highlighted by the Career mode, which is clearly the focus of the game but quickly starts to feel shallow. It's nice to see that virtually every move you make adds experience to your character with their skills, making them a stronger fighter in the cage. It's also nice to see that you can form some relationships with fighters, making it easier to learn certain moves from them or potentially set up rivalries with others. The main issue that crops up with this mode is how quickly it becomes repetitive. Players get the option to spar with training partners, but these guys are way too easy to knock out, which limits the opportunities to improve your skills. You can watch tape on opponents, but they never change their tactics or evolve their game over time, which seems unrealistic, especially during rematches. The same is said for the pre-fight routine: train, maybe do a sponsor's activity, fight, repeat. Even the cutscenes and the coach that introduces the game mode fade to obscurity. His main interaction gets limited to making minor comments during training sessions instead of making this mode into a dynamic, engaging story. That becomes boring, and not particularly thrilling, especially when the game draws out your pathway to the championship. Overall, if you're a UFC fight fan, you'll probably like many of the changes that've been made to this chapter of the series. But after a while, it's hard to imagine not being bored with the same kind of fight over and over again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in UFC 4 affected by the realistic blood and bruises shown as a result of the combat? Does the action seem like it's accurate to the sport, or are there things that seem to be missing? Do you think it could make players more interested in trying these moves in real life because the action appears realistic?
Does this competition showcase good sporting behavior, or is the aggressive nature of the fighters too intense for fair play?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: August 14, 2020
- Genre: Sports
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
- Last updated: September 10, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.