UFC Fight Nation is a free to play Flash game that you play while logged into Facebook, a la Farmville or Mafia Wars. Happily almost no spam comes from this game like the aforementioned culprits. Microtransactions (real money purchases) can speed up your progress towards a more powerful character but we will talk about that bridge when we cross it. When you first hit the main Fight Nation page the UFC 2010 console game music and a grimacing Dana White greet you. If it’s your first time playing, you need to create a character and you start by choosing a camp, either kick boxing or wrestling (subtly implying that wrestling is better than BJJ? As DSTRYRsg would put it, you tell me, grappler). I chose kickboxing as my main Martial Art and moved on to the next screen.
Now we are introduced to UFC “cred”. You acquire UFC cred by getting friends to play, fighting win or lose, or by leveling up your character. UFC cred is used to buy stuff, like mouth guards and training gear, but I always used mine for fight time health boosts. Next you choose from 32 nicknames including “El Nino”, “Shogun” and “Hitty McGee”. I chose “pseudonym” as my nickname because I think it would sound good being screamed by Bruce Buffer.
OK, the character is set, now it’s time to go to a fight camp to train moves. Since I am a kick boxer, on the training interface there is a choice to level up my jab, a cross, a round kick, “great distance” which I think is the skill to let you scramble out of being on the bottom of someones GNP and a “push away” which helps you get up from full guard. Redundant? Not sure. I decided to hone my jab skills, so I clicked on the button that would let me do so. Training consists of clicking a button to skill up your jab until your energy bar runs out. If you train “well” enough, you will level up your specific attack and gain a new mastery level specific to that strike or grapple, gaining passive bonuses like accuracy and power in the process. In my first “training session” I clicked the train button 5 times, which got me a mastery rating of 2 in jabs, which in turn leveled my character up giving me a bunch of UFC cred and some XP.
If you saw Joe Son get Hackneyed live you should also get UFC cred, but I digress. Now that my kickboxer leveled up, there are 3 points made available to put in to any of the 3 main stats in the game: health, energy and stamina. My health is the amount of damage I can take during a fight, stamina is the measure of my gas tank during a fight and my energy, which I mentioned above, signifies how much I can train. I put the 3 points into energy. Since my character leveled up from the training my energy meter is refilled and I can train a bit more, nice. I go back to the “training center”, work my cross to level 2 to and click the glowing FIGHT button, I’m almost level 3. It’s on.
Here is how fighting works: a move is selected at random from the 5 moves you have available to you at the start. It’s kind of like having a horrible 5 card deck of Magic cards or Pokemon cards shuffled and then you are forced to play them at random so no skill is involved.You will have more moves in the future, but it’s pretty dull to start. Stamina determines how effective the moves you draw are on your opponent, if your move hits it does damage taking away from your opponents health. If the attack misses it takes away some of your stamina, if you run out of stamina it’s pretty much a whiff fest and the striking looks a lot like Matt Riddle trying to punch Sean Pierson. If the other player loses their health you win, if you can’t finish your opponent, whoever has the most health wins by decision. You get 5 card plays each per round, for 3 rounds, depending on your stamina and that’s it. Dana even tells you you can skip the fights if you don’t want to see the borderline 1990’s card attacking another card animation. That’s a real reassuring factor in the quality of the game.
Anyways, back to my first time fighting. After clicking the initial glowing FIGHT button I spoke of above, you can choose from a gaggle of Facebook fighters that are real people, sitting in their underwear on Facebook. I pick 0-1-0 “chainsaw” for my first pro bout, I’m nervous and throwing up everywhere, but I collect myself enough to push the FIGHT button yet again, and I head into the fight.
Pseudonym VS Chainsaw, here we go.
Jab…..jab…..cross…..kick…..jab…The animated cards fly at each other. Magic the gathering is better than this in every way, but I am strangely addicted already. After watching the “action” for another minute or so I win by KO via a kick to the head in round 2. UFC Undisputed 2010 victory music washes over me and It brings much joy to my heart. I gain XP, some UFC cred and a 1-0 record.
At this point coming out of the fight my energy is still low so I can’t train. I can buy UFC points with my real hard earned cash in order to buy energy drinks that look like AMP to restore the precious green bar, or I can wait about 3 minutes between a single point replenishing. They clearly want to get you to buy UFC points, so my training for the day is almost done, or i can wait an hour and come back because it takes at least 3-4 points of energy to train just once. With this XP model i could see the only way of progressing to the top ranks of this game is buy spending money. I’m a gamer with an addictive personality, but I stay strong and hold out.
In closing, UFC Fight Nation for Facebook is a rudimentary card battle game with all of the skill taken out, there isn’t much to do in the game and the leveling system is obviously made to get you to spend money, but even then something about the game is strangely addictive and marginally fun. I will continue to level my character whenever I remember to, if I remember.
If you have a morbid curiosity, check it out, you might enjoy it.