- Formats: Xbox One (tested), PS4; Developer: EA Vancouver; Out now
Freed somewhat from the seasonal release schedule that EA Sports follows with its mega-successful FIFA and Madden NFL series, the sporting game giant steps into the octagon once every two years with its digital interpretation of the hyper-violent Ultimate Fighting Championship.
A good thing too, as the ebb and flow of mixed martial arts follows a different pattern to those more mainstream sports, as its trends and competitors morph and innovate. EA has always had a fine way with crunchy pugilism, its Fight Night boxing series is much missed, but succeeded by the excellent multi-limbed combat of UFC.
Such is the variety between its competitors - wrestlers, kickboxers and Brazilian jiu jitsu experts throttling for position - that pulling them altogether into cogent dust-ups is no mean feat. This is where UFC 4 excels most, with a terrific fighting system that allows for different tactics and expression.
By its very nature, the complexities of the combat might initially seem offputting to newcomers. Essentially each limb corresponds to a button in general stand and bang fighting, while modifications on the shoulder buttons allow for clinching, takedowns and more elaborate strikes. But the single-player career mode does a fine job of easing you into the controls, taking you through a cinematic tutorial that layers on different elements of combat before letting you naturally hone your own style.