UFC Undisputed 2010 - PS3 Review
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is one of the fastest growing sports in the world today, and the UFC is the premier MMA organisation in the world. Ever since I witnessed submission-specialist Oleg Taktarov submit the fierce bikie-esque punching-machine Tank Abbott way back in UFC 6, I have been hooked. After the critical and commercial success of UFC Undisputed 2009 (which we at Futuregamez enjoyed enough to give 89% overall) it was just a matter of time until UFC Undisputed 2010 was released. Is this year's title good enough to be crowned the undisputed MMA video game champion of the world? Read on...
|UFC Undisputed 2010 is a MMA title.|
For anyone new to MMA, or to the UFC Undisputed series, your first port of call should be the in-game tutorial. MMA is a complex sport, where striking can at times take a back seat to grappling and submissions. Understanding how to best position yourself, and how to land or avoid submissions will be critical to your overall success in the game. If you played last year's game you should have no trouble stepping straight back into the octagon, as most of the controls are identical. The four face buttons are each mapped to a limb of your fighter; square and triangle are your left and right arms, while 'x' and circle control your legs. When used in conjunction with L2 punches will target the body instead of the head, and the legs instead of the mid-section with kicks. L1 unleashes character-specific moves, whilst R1 defends your head from your opponent, and R2 defends your legs.
UFC Undisputed 2010 boasts that it gives you “ultimate control of your ultimate fighter”. One way it does this is via the Sway System which enables full upper body and head movement to dodge attacks. By holding R1 and flicking the left-analog stick in any direction your fighter will sway away from incoming strikes, allowing you the perfect opportunity to land damaging counter-strikes. Likewise there is a Posture System that enables you to deliver knock-out punches from any dominant ground position. Another addition in this year's title is the fact that the octagon itself can be used during fights. Some fighters are able to use the octagon walls to stand up or reverse disadvantaged ground positions, whilst others will enjoy pushing their opponent into the fence in the clinch, allowing them to unload more effective knees and punches. This last feature adds a level of authenticity to the in-game action, so it's great to see it included this time around.
|He's on the ground, the fight continues.|
Like last year, the majority of your time with Undisputed 2010 will be spent playing the career mode and there have been some significant changes in this area. First off, your fighter begins his career as an amateur which gives you time to learn the ropes if you're new to the game, or time for returning veterans to get back into the groove. Once you turn pro your fighter must work his way up to the UFC from the lower-level WFA organisation, rather than starting in the UFC from the get-go like in last year's game. Working your way up to the UFC is the much more realistic approach, and having some time to build your fighter up before he makes his way into the UFC makes a lot of sense.
Speaking of building your fighter up, a lot of what you'll do in career mode is train between your fights. You must train your attributes to improve your strength, speed and cardio, which is easily done by selecting the type and intensity of your training, and then clicking a button. Improving your fighter's skills is more complicated and is achieved through sparring with a member of your gym. Every move you or your opponent do in your sparring session gives you a point, so if you land or block a jab you get a point, if you get or defend a takedown you get a point, land a haymaker and you get a point etc. At the end of the sparring session the game tallies both fighters' points, the bigger the positive difference between the number of points you had versus your opponent, the more skill points you'll have to allocate to your fighter afterwards.
|Korean Kim Donghyun in UFC Undisputed 2010.|
If you get sick of sparring, and it is a real possibility given you'll likely spar two to three times between every fight for your whole career, you can automate the sparring session and take a reduced number of skill points. This isn't advisable though, as it is hard to secure enough points this way to stop skills from deteriorating. That's right, unlike last year your skills and attributes will deteriorate if they are neglected for a number of weeks in a row, though getting any skill to 30, 50 or 70 points gets them to a safe level they won't drop below. It is important to keep an eye on your skills each week as they deteriorate faster than you'd expect, at least at first, and it is entirely possible for any neglected skill to drop to zero if you're not paying close attention. After a while you get used to the balancing act, and it becomes second-nature to manage your skills and attributes effectively.
Camp Invites are back this year, so in any given week you can invite yourself to another fighter's gym and try to master one of their skills. To do this you select the gym you want to train at, then the move you want to learn. Next you'll be given an objective (such as landing two-strike combinations) to achieve in a sparring session against a member of their gym – pull off the objective often enough and you'll unlock the move. If you don't perform the objective enough to unlock the move you'll be given some credit, but you'll have to come back another week to learn the move. New to this year's career mode is the ability to select a game plan for your upcoming fight. Selecting a game plan will give you a bonus to an area of your game you think will need the most help for the upcoming fight. So if you're up against a submission specialist for example, you may choose a game plan that enhances your submission defence skills or if you're up against someone with a weak chin you may want to improve your stand-up skills in search of a big KO.
|Even the hairs on the fighters look realistic!|
Outside of career mode Undisputed 2010 offers a much more satisfying range of game modes, thanks primarily to the inclusion of Title and Title Defence modes. In Title Mode you take control of any fighter in a certain weight class, including created fighters, and attempt to defeat either eight, ten or twelve opponents on your way to claiming the title. Your game will be saved after each fight, so if you lose you're welcome to re-try anytime. Title Defence mode offers a much stiffer challenge, one where you're unable to save your progress. In Title Defence you have to defeat twelve opponents, who are broken up into four grades, D through A. In between fights you're shown exactly how much damage you sustained in your last fight, and the game will restore some health to each part of the body before the next fight. Take heavy damage in one fight, or accumulate it over a few fights, and there's no chance you'll go into your next fight with full health. This adds a pleasing level of depth to the game, as it means you'll have to change tactics to prevent further damage to that particular part of the body.
Outside of these modes there's the option of Exhibition fights, tournaments (of four, eight or sixteen fighters), create-a-fighter, Event mode and Ultimate Fights, where you get to re-create some classic UFC fights of the past. This year's create-a-fighter has a few notable changes, including the ability to 'buy' whichever moves you want. After you've selected your fighting style your fighter is allocated a bunch of standard moves, each of which is worth a certain number of points. If you don't like any of these moves, or prefer others, you can 'sell' those moves and use the points gained to purchase the moves you really want. It's a fun, if time-consuming way to build the fighter of your dreams. There are also a number of first and last names to choose from, which Bruce Buffer will announce before each fight. MMA fans will appreciate the ability to select 'Fyodor' as their first name, and 'Emilianenko' as their last name, as well as being able to unlock 'The Last Emperor' as a nickname...
|Even the cameraman makes it into the game.|
Event mode allows you to select up to eight fights to put on a fight card, and then watch or play the whole thing with perfect UFC pay-per view (PPV) presentation. In a normal UFC PPV there is an intro which features a few quotes from the participants in the main event, explaining why they are going to win. Event mode does the exact same thing, and it's cool to see your created fighter (or one of the UFC regulars) pop up during the intro explaining why he is going to win. The presentation here is great, and really is just like watching a UFC PPV. If you don't want to put together your own fight card, you can opt to play some of the UFC cards of the past, or to download upcoming or recent UFC events.
Ultimate Fights mode has twenty classic past UFC fights and asks you to recreate them. The intro to each fight is the same stuff they showed on the PPV broadcast at the time of the fight, so you get interviews with each fighter, and experience the build-up for each bout. During the fights you'll have certain objectives to achieve (such as winning by rear-naked choke in round one, or not being cut), and for each one you achieve you'll earn points that unlock more video footage from the fight; be it interviews from after the fight, or the fight itself. The PS3 version of Undisputed 2010 also comes with five PS3 exclusive fights, aired in their entirety. The selected fights, which include GSP vs BJ Penn II, Lesnar vs Mir II and Griffin vs Bonnar from The Ultimate Fighter season one finale, are very entertaining, especially if you've never seen them before.
|He's got his leg!!|
Multiplayer in Undisputed 2010 is a lot of fun locally, but not much fun online due primarily to lagging. Any game, but especially fighting games which rely on precision timing, is a lot less fun with lag. Hopefully the server performance will improve in future, but in its current form the online modes aren't going to bring you back often.
Whilst there's no doubt UFC Undisputed 2010 is a very good game, it does have a few issues. The most noticeable of these is the fact that career mode can quickly become tedious; outside of your actual fights there's simply not much fun to be had. You'll often have between eight and twelve weeks between fights, during which time you'll have a couple of sparring sessions and maybe a camp invite as well. The scoring system when sparring is flawed enough that the best way to earn points is to secure a takedown and then land as many rabbit-punches (i.e. extremely weak punches) from guard, before your opponent is able to get back to his feet. This gets tedious quickly, and the realisation that this is a necessary component two to three times a fight for however many years your career lasts can be very disheartening indeed. There is the option to automate your sparring, but the amount of points you're given won't be enough to sufficiently build your fighter, whilst staving off point deterioration.
|Fighter models are superbly detailed.|
Another issue with the game is the submissions. To secure a submission or to resist one, you have to rotate the right-analog stick as fast as you can. This seemed to work reasonably well in multiplayer matches, but against the AI of the game it doesn't seem to work as well. My AI-opponents were able to submit my UFC fighter with relative ease, regardless of which ground position they were in. On the other hand when I controlled submission-specialist Demien Maia, on the easiest difficulty, after reducing my opponents health to pretty much zero (i.e. they were rocked after any hit landed), got to mount, side-control or even north-south, I could not complete a submission. It's also not clear why a submission doesn't work – there is no commentary feedback, no different animation, nothing. This basically led me to ignoring submissions entirely, which is a real shame.
Most of my other issues are minor; judges give poor decisions (though this does happen in real-life), cuts and bruises seem to disappear between rounds, there's no way to scout an opponent in career mode, which is pain in the first place, but also greatly reduces the usefulness of the new “game plan” feature unless you know your opponent well. You can ask your trainer for advice on upcoming fights but his advice is always generic and never specific making it largely useless. It's annoying that you can't organise fights outside of weight divisions too. I mean if I want to use Shane Carwin to pound Anderson Silva's head in, I think there should be a place for that. And finally, fighters often don't fight to their supposed strengths. Accomplished ground fighters don't always look for takedowns or submissions, whilst some of the weaker stand up fighters will become untouchable during career and Title Defence modes, whilst landing crisp strikes with regularity. I'm sorry, but Karo Parisyan is not going to stick it to anyone on their feet, let alone someone like Thiago Alves or BJ Penn.
|Note the UFC coverage on the big screen.|
Graphically the game is very impressive, with almost all of the fighters looking very close to their real-life counterparts. Matt Hamill's bald patch, Dan Hardy's red Mohawk, the tattoo on the back Wanderlei Silva's head – they're all there. Somewhat surprisingly hosts Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg don't look particularly good, but they're not as big a focal point as the fighters themselves, so this is easily overlooked. It's still possible to cut your opponent, and doing so will definitely cause the blood to flow. Subsequent punches to the affected area spurts blood each time, and by the end of the round both fighters usually have their fair share. It's not overly gratuitous, but it's definitely cool. Fighters also have their own mannerisms, celebrations and taunts in the game. Have you seen the little dance Anderson Silva does when he wins a fight? It's in the game. Touches like this make the game feel that little bit more authentic which is a plus.
In terms of sound, UFC Undisputed 2010 is a lot like it was last year. The commentary hasn't changed a whole lot, and there's still a few too many 'wow!' and 'oh's thrown in there. It will also get repetitive after a while and you'll certainly be hearing the same lines many times in a single sitting. That said, the commentary is generally accurate, and it can be interesting; especially at the beginning of a fight when they talk about each fighter. Special mention must go to the commentary the Ultimate Fights mode fights, which unlike last year are relevant to the fighters at that point in their career – no longer will the commentators discuss the real-life result of the fight you're participating in, instead they spend time talking about how the fight came about, each fighter's recent results etc, making the bouts that much more authentic.
|UFC Undisputed 2010 is sure to be a big seller.|
Overall there's no doubt that UFC Undisputed 2010 is a better game than its predecessor. The inclusion of new (and more engaging) fight modes, more fighters, extra fight disciplines as well as the ability to sway and dodge incoming attacks are all welcome additions. A few niggles from last year's game persist, most notably the tedious elements of career mode, a flawed submission system and the disconnect between the skills displayed in-game by some fighters to their real life abilities, but these by no means stop UFC Undisputed 2010 from being a thoroughly entertaining game, one worthy of being added to your collection.
Review By: Mike Allison
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|GRAPHICS||Almost all of the real-life fighters look picture perfect, whilst the blood and sweat effects still look good. The animations are spot on too.||91%|
|SOUND||The commentary is accurate, but can get a bit repetitive. Much improved commentary for the classic fights are a big plus, whilst the fight sounds are decent enough.||86%|
|GAMEPLAY||The controls are complex, but MMA demands that for it to be an accurate portrayal of the sport. Submissions can be very difficult to pull off, and AI-controlled opponents become superhuman at times, but for the most part it's all spot on.||88%|
|VALUE||The fact that there are engaging game modes outside of career mode adds a lot to the longevity. Online is too laggy to add long-term enjoyment though.||85%|
|OVERALL||Superior to last year's title in many ways, but unfortunately it still retains a few of the niggles. Don't let that stop you from picking this game up though, as it is still a cracking fight game, and the best MMA game on the market.||88%|