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‘EA Sports UFC 3’ coming in February with beefed up visuals, career mode

A screenshot of middleweight champion Michael Bisping from "EA Sports UFC 3," which is scheduled for release on Feb. 2 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. / EA Sports

In the days leading up to UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 4, the top MMA promotion used the platform to announce the latest edition of their biannual video game franchise.

“EA Sports UFC 3” is scheduled for release Feb. 2, which is sooner than the octagon will return to the Big Apple. The game, coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, boasts improved animations and visuals, revamped stand-up striking, enhancements to Ultimate Team mode and a more robust career mode.

In advance of the game’s reveal, a build of “UFC 3” was made available for journalists to test out for several hours. Although restricted to Fight Now matches, here’s amNewYork’s thoughts on how the upcoming new iteration looked and played.

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Fluid striking

“EA Sports UFC 2” released in March 2016. While it’s stand-up striking wasn’t broken, it felt stiff in important way. Fighters could not move and throw strikes at the same time.

Cover art for the Champions Edition of "EA Sports UFC 3"

The new game does away with that problem in a big way. Fighters now move around the cage more freely and are able to throw punches while moving forward or backing up. Anyone who wants to recreate Anderson Silva’s 2009 knockout of Forrest Griffin — “The Spider” caught him with a jab while backpedaling — is free to give it a shot.

More gameplay options

While hard-core fans of “UFC 2” may not have minded the submission minigame, it wasn’t the easiest mechanic to teach to friends coming for a casual game. For those people, a button-mashing option is available. Who doesn’t love to mash buttons?

In addition to Fight Now and the returning arcade-style KO Mode, more single-play gameplay modes are available. Submission Showdown is similar to grappling organizations like Metamoris. Stand-and-bang is a more simulation-style KO Mode that eschews the predetermined hit points and plays more like a gentlemen’s agreement to keep a Fight Now bout standing.

Cutting-edge visuals

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Fighter likenesses, particularly for major UFC stars like the game’s special edition cover athlete Conor McGregor, are an evolution of the already top-flight graphics present in the 2016 game.

During his opening presentation, “UFC 3” game director Brian Hayes put since-dethroned UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping’s likeness from the past and upcoming games side-by-side. His face features far more detail in the amount of damage a veteran fighter such as Bisping has taken in his career.