Backyard Brawls, Kumite Matches, and More: A Novice’s Review of UFC 4

Let’s be honest, no one likes losing in fighting games. Whether it’s by a special finisher, or by a simple punch to the face, losing is all the same. It just sucks. Losing in UFC 4 is no different.

The epicness of the gameplay only makes losing that much worse. However, once you get some practice, you find that even in defeat, UFC 4 is one of the most enjoyable fighting experiences in gaming today. 

Kumite Ring

My First Time Playing UFC 4 

When I first played UFC 4, I was the definition of a sore loser. The experience still hurts me to my core. It all started while visiting a childhood friend of mine, Ramel. After catching up, I challenged him to a quick round of UFC 4. He accepted my challenge, and soon we were facing off. 

Being a huge fan, I chose Charles Oliviera. Ramel, on the other hand, picked the smallest fighter on the roster. The first fight was a quick loss because as soon as I exhausted my fighter’s stamina, Ramel wheel kicked me to sleep. I was in shock but not yet defeated. I figured he pulled off a lucky strike. 

The next fight started with me wobbling him. Although I was excited, I quickly changed my attitude as soon as he had my fighter back peddling. I tried throwing combinations – jabs, crosses, uppercuts, and kicks. I felt as if I was throwing more combinations than I could conceive. My excitement officially ended when my fighter’s feet returned to the ground after receiving an uppercut from Ramel. 

Admittedly, this is how almost every single round ended that night. I never made it out of the first round but was never mentally defeated. By the time I left, I was already itching to start playing again. Like training in mixed martial arts in real life, I knew I had to keep coming back for more. 

Tyson Fury, Heavyweight Boxing Champion and Playable DLC Character in UFC 4.

Getting in the Swing of Things 

A few days later, I downloaded UFC 4 through Xbox’s GamePass. Immediately, I hopped into the classic fight mode. Having only ever played the previous generations of UFC games, I didn’t know how things would go when learning the controls. It was as if I was starting from square one. I was the white belt of UFC 4. 

In the beginning, it wasn’t easy. The gameplay is still fairly difficult, especially when fighting opponents on legendary. With time though, I started to gain awareness of the fundamentals required to beat opponents. 

I’d say at this point of playing, I am mildly experienced. It is not the most beginner-friendly game. I’m still learning controls and timing to this day. This leads me to the training aspect of the game, and how it ties to actual mixed martial arts. 

UFC 4’s cover art, depicting current UFC Welterweight Champion, Alex Pereira.

UFC 4 vs. Training

One of the key questions I had before playing UFC 4 was how similar it would be to training in mixed martial arts. Now I must admit I’m not an expert in mixed martial arts. However, years of training surely gave me a nice perspective in understanding the chess-like dynamics of the sport and the game.

In terms of the striking, I find a lot of positive aspects within the game. Regardless of the body parts used, the dynamics are quite fascinating. The ability to utilize combinations is almost like training your mind without the physical damage of hitting or getting hit. The way fighters trade shots, and simultaneously lose stamina, also helps with gaining self-awareness. Just like in the real world, throwing endless strikes without exhaustion is impossible. 

When it comes to grappling, I am still in the learning stages. Therefore, I do not feel I have much room to speak on the topic as it pertains to the game. The only components I can appreciate at this moment are the takedown dynamics, the defense dynamics, and the ability to perform different submissions. These are key points of training grappling in real life too. The tough part is always finishing the submission, and maintaining dominant positions.

I wouldn’t consider the game a substitute for training, but it is a great way to condition the mind. Repetition is key to mixed martial arts. There is no denying that aspect of the sport. UFC 4’s fighting offers an added bonus for anyone who is training or is looking to start training. 

Backyard Brawls

Great Games Have Room for Growth 

On the TAG scale, UFC 4 deserves a 5/5 stars rating. I originally was not going to give the game a perfect score due to its grappling components. However, after some consideration, I decided not to let that factor too much into the overall score. This is mainly because I am still terrible at grappling in the game. It would be unfair to judge until I understand them more. Once I get better, I may change my thoughts. For now, this game deserves a perfect score because it stays true to the sport and sets a precedent for future games!

If you wonder how my redemption arc against Ramel went, I’ll be straightforward. I was beaten badly once again. After months of training, including beating legendary mode opponents, he beat me just as badly as he did the first time. I had no excuses the second time around. I had a better understanding of the controls and dynamics. It was just the veteran versus the novice. Even with the most recent losses, I am coming back for more rounds. That’s the fight game!

Do you like fighting games? What are your thoughts on UFC 4? Leave a comment section, and let’s discuss!

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