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February 25, 2012
UFC Undisputed 3 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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UFC Undisputed 3's fighter models are fantastic.
UFC Undisputed is back for its third iteration and the excitement around the Futuregamez office is palpable. We're all fans of the UFC in real life as well as its PS3 incarnations, and we love a good excuse to thump each other upside the head – on the PS3 that is. In a couple of weeks I’ll be attending my very first live UFC event in Sydney and I can think of no better way to pass the time and build up the anticipation that playing THQ’s latest release. The previous games in the series have been excellent; can UFC Undisputed 3 live up to, or improve upon them? Read on...

Improving the game’s accessibility is high on the agenda for Undisputed this time around, and a couple of new features work towards that. First off the submission system, which previously had you rotating the right-analog stick as fast as you could to land or defend a submission, has been overhauled. Now any time a submission is initiated an octagon-shaped HUD appears with a bar representing each of the combatants on the outside edge of the octagon HUD. A cat and mouse minigame ensues, with the aggressor trying to get their bar to overlap their opponents for long enough to complete the submission, while the defender tries to keep the bars apart until the timer runs out. There is a meter on-screen that shows how close the submission is to completion which gives a clear and precise visual representation of success and failure.

To go along with the new submission system, players can now choose between Pro and Amateur controls for transitions in the clinch and ground game. In the past minor and major transitions were done with quarter and half rotations of the right-analog stick, and this remains the case if you select Pro controls. Anyone who found that too challenging can now select Amateur controls which simply require you to press up or down on the right-analog stick to perform transitions.

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Corporate sponsors are in the game for realism.
The majority of other controls are the same as in previous titles; the face buttons are mapped to a limb of your fighter, while L1 and L2 are technique and body modifiers respectively. R1 and R2 block high and low, while R2 and forward on the right-analog attempts a takedown. You can run with L3, take quick steps with a flick of the left-analog stick and use R3 on the feet to switch between orthodox and southpaw stances. On the ground R3 initiates submissions, and if your fighter is capable of it you can now change from one submission to another with a second press of R3.

There are heaps of other moves and techniques to learn but newcomers shouldn’t feel overwhelmed as there is a comprehensive tutorial that both explains and shows you what to do. There are sixty-two tasks all up, ranging from beginner to expert, and spending the required half an hour to complete the tutorial is highly recommended. You’ll learn things like how to sway out of the way of attacks, how to catch punches and kicks, how to use the octagon to your advantage as well as how to feint moves or target one-hit knockouts among other things.

All game modes from UFC Undisputed 2010 return so you can participate in exhibitions, career, online, Ultimate Fights, title mode, title defense mode, tournaments and event mode. The biggest change here is the addition of Pride FC. For those unfamiliar with Pride FC, it was a separate fighting organization that ran out of Japan up until a few years ago. The UFC bought it out when it ran into financial difficulties, and many of the fighters from Pride made their way to the UFC in the process. Pride differed from UFC in that it took place in a ring and had ropes instead of a cage. Also some of the fighting rules differ – in Pride you can’t elbow opponents but you can blast downed opponents with knees, or use the soccer kick to separate their head from their shoulders if the opportunity presents itself. There were subtle differences to judge’s scoring in Pride, and the first round went for ten minutes rather than the five minutes the UFC uses.

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UFC Undipusted 3 includes UFC and Pride FC now.
In career mode you once again start out with an amateur fighter who must work his way up from the WFA organization, into the UFC and Pride. There have been some changes to the career, making it more about fighting and training, and less about stat juggling, and that has to be viewed as a positive. You no longer have to rest or perform promotional activities, and instead of having 8-12 weeks between fights, you now have either one or two activities between fights. An activity is anything from training and sparring, to heading out to a fight camp to learn or level up new moves, or working on a game plan for your upcoming opponent.

Training drills improve your attributes (strength, cardio, footwork and speed), while sparring drills improve your individual skills. There are seven training drills and seven sparring drills to choose from, and while that sounds like a lot you’re probably going to get sick of some of them by the end of your 48-fight career. As in the past you learn new moves by going to fight camps, but unlike past years you’re locked into one specific camp after a certain point in your career, making your choice more important. The game plan feature is more useful now because you can scout your upcoming opponent pre-fight. If you successfully stick to your game plan in the fight you’ll gain permanent skill increases (and decreases) for your fighter.

A few other neat features added to career this time include real-life fighter interviews when you reach certain checkpoints in your career, such as first win, first loss and your first title shot. As mentioned above you can now fight in Pride, but only occasionally and only in the Pride GP, which ties you up for three fights. Be aware that Pride doesn’t have divisions below welterweight so if you’re in a lower weight-class you won’t get the chance to fight in Pride. One other change (that’s present in other game modes as well) is your corner will give you comments on what you’re doing well and where you can improve in between rounds. I like that this was included in the game, but to be honest it’s not always that useful.

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Yes it's... Flying punch!!
As far as other game modes go, in Title mode you take any fighter, including created fighters, and attempt to win the division. Doing so requires you to win seven fights but you’re allowed to lose up to three times before your title hopes are squashed. Once you’ve won Title mode you can use that fighter in Title Defense mode where you attempt to defend your belt up to one-hundred times in a row. Some damage carries over from one fight to the next, so eventually you’ll find yourself with quite a handicap heading into the next fight. Tournament mode lets you participate in a four, eight or sixteen man tournament in either the UFC or Pride. In UFC tournaments damage doesn’t carry over between fights, but in Pride tournaments it does. That’s realistic because Pride used to have fighters fight multiple times on the same night in their tournaments.

Event mode lets you put together the fight card of your dreams with up to eight fights on the card. Alternatively you can download previous or upcoming pay-per-views if you’re not feeling very creative. Ultimate Fights lets you recreate or rewrite history in some of the greatest fights of all time. You can control either fighter and you’re given a list of objectives to complete during the fight. In the past you could complete these at any point during the fight, but now you have to complete them in order and within a specific time-frame. This ensures that fights play out closely to the real thing and can make for exciting races against the clock.

As far as multiplayer goes you can play locally or online. Local games against friends are heaps of fun and run as smoothly as you’d expect. In a perfect world online play would be much the same, but as at the time of writing this is not the case. Currently there are major disconnection issues in both the lobby and during fights. It is possible to complete a fight, but at present, based on my experience, that’s a less than 50-50 proposition. THQ is aware of the problems and is working on a fix so hopefully things will improve soon, but currently online play has major problems. If the online service sorts itself out you’ll be able to compete in exhibition fights, join or create an online fight camp with up to fifteen other friends and share created content with the online community.

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Pride FC plays a large part in this game.
Along with the broken online play, another major issue I have with UFC Undisputed 3 is the loading and auto-save times. Whether you’re booting the game up or playing in any of the game modes, loading is a constant. In career mode the loading time for drills is almost as long as the drills themselves, and when you throw in the auto-save after a drill, you’re lucky if you’re spending even 40% of your time actually playing. This makes career mode tedious after a while and genuinely hurts long-term interest in playing. This is despite the HDD install of over 3GB.

Disappointingly Title Defense mode, which could be an epic battle against one-hundred consecutive fighters, is plagued by the same problem. The issue here is compounded by the presentation which includes fighter introductions, tale of the tape and ring entrances before every fight. After playing the game for any length of time you’ll definitely be skipping as much as possible, but the time it takes to do so is galling. One-hundred fights with three minutes loading/saving between each fight is no-one’s idea of fun.

Title Defense has the potential to be awesome, but they need to cut the presentation down to a minimum and make it more arcadey in the sense that fights happens straight after one another. I’d also prefer it if fighters didn’t repeat in this mode – once you clear out a division you should start fighting people from the next division up. Also, the fact that you can’t save your progress in Title Defense is silly. Who in their right mind is going to play one-hundred straight fights? You’d need somewhere between eight and ten hours to have a chance at completing it. Having safe spots every twenty-odd fights makes a lot of sense – in its current form Title Defense simply isn’t a mode people will attempt to complete.

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Back for some cage fighting in UFC Undisputed 3.
Graphically, just like past games in the series, UFC Undisputed 3 looks great. The player models are accurate in the vast majority of cases and the commitment to nailing the tattoos, hairstyles and move-set of each fighter is very impressive. Fighters move fluidly and transition from one position to another seamlessly. Collision detection isn’t always perfect and you’ll see the odd punch deal damage when it clearly missed, or a strike go through an opponent without dealing damage, but such moments are rare enough not to be an issue. Cuts look nasty up close, as they should, and that adds another level of realism.

The sound is solid but by no means spectacular. There’s not much music beyond the theme songs of the UFC and Pride, but they’re perfectly recreated. Crowd noise is noticeably quieter here than in other sports games, with the developers preferring you to hear the corner-men shouting out advice as well as the commentary. Speaking of the commentary, having Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros back in the booth for Pride fights is fantastic. They’re funny and interesting in a way Mike Goldberg will never be able to rival. Listening to Bas and Quadros makes me want to petition Dana White to get them back in the booth for UFC fights. The Pride commentary is great but also limited, so you’ll be hearing many of the same stories before long.

UFC Undisputed 3 improves on its predecessors by making the game more accessible, improving the submission game and career mode as well as adding Pride fights. Unfortunately there are problems to go along with the improvements – online play is nearly broken (which THQ are working on), long load times significantly affect the flow of most game modes and Title Defense is poorly conceived this time around. During fights UFC Undisputed 3 is the best game in the series so far, it’s just too bad that the flaws overshadow that.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSNot a leap forward from the last game but still very polished. Great attention to detail in recreating fighters’ appearance and moves.
SOUNDBas and Stephen Quadros are awesome and make the commentary better. The sound effects are decent too.
GAMEPLAYThe new submission system is a huge upgrade. Loading times and excessive pre-fight build-up hurt the flow of most game modes though.
VALUECareer will keep you busy, and it takes a while to get tired of Pride tournaments. Broken online play hurts though, and Title Defense is a missed opportunity.
OVERALLUFC Undisputed 3 is the best UFC game so far in many ways, but a couple of major flaws hold it back. With some subtle but significant improvements the next game in the series could be off the charts.

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