EA Sports UFC 5 is more of a remaster of UFC 4 than it is a new game. This may not be a surprise to folks who are used to the annualized sports franchises from EA Sports, but UFC 5 had three years to make major upgrades since its predecessor. Most of the effort has gone into remaking the character models in EA’s Frostbite engine, making a few control tweaks, and adding an impressive cut system. However, the roster, career mode, and presentation have been copied over with little effort and in some cases left to atrophy.
When the Frostbite engine cooperates, the enhanced graphics and character models show off the power of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. A flashy replay for knockouts has the camera zoom in on the action from several angles. The new cut system in particular allows for hundreds of different variations of facial bleeding that worsens during a fight if that particular area remains unprotected. Fights can now end due to the referee calling for doctor stoppage, though the required amount of blood loss for this to happen usually means a fighter is about to drop anyway.
That said, the graphics are still prone to awkward glitches. Limbs will occasionally contort in strange ways upon contact. On several occasions, the camera will get stuck behind the cage or lose the focus of the fight. And the ragdoll system sometimes makes fighters flop around like a fish upon colliding with the floor.
Wear and tear
For better and worse, UFC 5 makes several edits to the combat system. On one hand, the ground game thankfully no longer has the submission mini-game, and transitions from one position to another are smoother and faster. Uppercuts are also easier to throw out by not having them be assigned to hitting two face buttons at the same time.
On the other hand, popular spinning moves have now been assigned to the two face buttons instead, making them difficult to execute with consistency. The clinch system is still a mess as well, with it being much too simplified for as complex as clinching is for muay thai holds and strikes
A half-hearted effort
Otherwise, the rest of the game disappointingly remains untouched and unmaintained. The roster from UFC 4 has been more or less duplicated over with some notable fighters, like CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, and Francis Ngannou, left out. Retired fighters like Lyoto Machida and Khabib Nurmagomedov are still in, while Michel Periera, Ian Garry, and other notable newcomers are not included. Some pre-order bonus characters attempt to make up for this, but Muhammad Ali in particular comes without any of his signature moves and his moveset is copied from other fighters.
The single-player career mode hasn’t received many improvements either. Apart from a few adjustments and cut-scenes, it still has you earn Evolution Points mainly through sparring, raise your fitness level before a match, and use any remaining time during the week promoting the fight. With enough wins and noteworthy performances, you can unlock all the requirements to become a GOAT.
EA Sports UFC 5 Final Verdict
EA Sports UFC 5 is the only game in town when it comes to the MMA genre, so it can be tough for fans of the series to ignore it, especially for those who are into the online ranked mode. But stagnation can be the death of a franchise. The overhauled graphics and new cut system are enough of an upgrade to satisfy some fans, but if you’re someone who enjoys the single-player modes, you’ll have pretty much the same experience by playing UFC 4 or even UFC 3 instead.