On Tuesday, the latest edition of the "UFC Undisputed" series was released and already the praise is being heaped upon it. I had been salivating at the chance to finally play the game since I pre-ordered it four months ago.
Each week, new facts would be released about the game culminating in the roster being revealed on ESPN.com, making the release date seem so much farther away. With everything that was being revealed, I wrote an article a while back about what I would have liked to see in the new game along with what was already announced.
From what I've seen so far in playing it, I feel THQ and the UFC have listened to what fans were upset with in the previous games and made one of the most appealing sports games in recent memory.
Here's a link to the previous article.
One of the first things players will notice is that the graphics are much better than in previous editions, fighters look life-like down to creases in the face and moles around the body.
I had mentioned in my previous article that a big difference between the last Undisputed and its chief rival, EA Sports MMA, was the lack of realism in fighters' injuries and how fights played out. In the last Undisputed, the animations were limited in how fighters showed damage or how they fell when knocked out.
In this edition, fights are much faster and much more realistic. Every bruise, swell and cut look different from one another, and blood on the canvas look like splotches and smears like in real life, not pixels on a white floor.
Fights and Fight Modes
A big change has been made to fights in order to make them more real. Damage is more brutal. Fighter animations are more varied so that you're not seeing the same thing over and over. Stamina has been made more important so that you can't always spam the same move without getting winded.
The impact detection is also vastly improved, making it seem like you're watching a live fight.
Another key element added to create realism is the “Finish the Fight” ability where fights ended almost immediately after knocking out an opponent. Now, you can dive in on a downed opponent and keep pelting him with strikes until the ref jumps in to stop the fight.
In most cases, you will have to do that because your opponent can pull a Cheick Kongo and rally back to try and beat you.
For example, during a Pride rules match I played as Georges St. Pierre taking on BJ Penn. I connected with a hook that sent Penn to the ground. I dove in for some knees to the head, landing a couple. Then, Penn sprawled out and attempted to get back up.
Do you like the new submission system?
I hit him with a soccer kick to the face before landing four head stomps, causing the ref to step in and stop the fight. As I was playing this out, I was almost grimacing at how brutal the head stomps were, as well as how life-like Penn looked as he was trying to get away from my attacks, rather than turtleing up, as was common in the last game.
This year, tournament mode is back with both UFC and Pride rules. It's a nice addition, along with being able to have UFC and Pride fighters face off against each other or even have fighters face themselves in both UFC and Pride form.
One of the biggest changes is in the submission system. In previous installments, players had to either button mash or rotate the analog stick a certain way to get a tapout, using only the TV as a clue of if you were doing it right. Now, there is a visual of an octagon that contains a red and blue bar for fans so they know which way to turn the analog stick.
The submitter has to keep their bar over their opponent's for a period of time, depending on the opponent's level of submission defense.
Another thing that has been revamped is the Ultimate Fights mode. In prior years, the player was given a list of objectives to meet in order to unlock a video clip of the fight. This year, the objectives are given in real time during the fight, and the player has a certain amount of time to meet the objective.
In my match between Mirko Cro Cop and Heath Herring from Pride, I had to block strikes from Herring for about 20 seconds using the new block controls. Then, I had to hit a certain number of body kicks and counter punches before finally winning by total knockout or knockout. The new objectives add a sense of urgency that adds to the excitement of trying to get the video clips from classic matches.
Will you buy the season pass?
While that is a great upgrade, it comes with my biggest complaint about the game. Like many sports games coming out now, UFC Undisputed has what's called a season pass. This costs $16.99 and is required if you want to have access to most of the DLC packs without having to buy them separately though you get it free if you pre-ordered the game from certain sellers.
The season pass allows you free download of most of the downloadable content (DLC) set to come out. It's unfortunate that the the norm in sports games now is you have to pay for online use after you have already bought the game.
"Undisputed 3" takes it a step further in trying to push you towards buying the pass.
The Ultimate Fights mode is separated into different categories such as best of Pride, best upsets, knockouts, submissions and more. But the only things that are available from the start are about five Pride matches, everything else is locked until certain DLC packs are downloaded.
This alienates fans who would have loved to play these matches have to fork out even more cash just to play something that may already be on the disc, but needs to be unlocked.
Perhaps the biggest changes came in the career mode. Last year, the mode was bogged down with small issues that together became a big problem for players. Instead of the many menus displayed all over in the last edition, the menus are grouped together based on whether they are fight related or customization related.
While the commentary was repetitive in the last one with in-fight commentary and post-fight interviews, this edition has no interviews and commentary is about the player's career or his training leading up to the fight.
Another big change is the prep leading up to each fight. Before, players had to manage time between training the three main attributes of strength, speed and cardio, sparring and visiting camps to learn new moves.
The need to rest was also there in order to keep your fighter healthy and his stamina up. This would all be spread over a period of eight to 14 weeks.
With the new edition, worrying about stamina is removed since the prep time for fights is now in the form of “actions” where the player chooses to either visit a gym, training using one of 14 minigames that work different stats or working on a game plan for stats to be spread out over a group of skills.
Other positive changes made to career mode is the ability to change divisions at will, either moving up or down in weight class. In the previous games, once you decided to change weight class, you were stuck in that division until the end of your career.
Now, you can go up or down in weight, unless you are a bantamweight or heavyweight.
One change that is a bit annoying is the way training camps have been revamped. In last year's edition, you had your choice of dozens of camps to train at and learn different moves and styles. Though the camps shared many of moves, it was interesting to train with different fighters.
Do you like the changes to career mode?
This year you have the choice of six gyms: AKA, American Top Team, Black House, Wolf's Lair, Sityodtong and Greg Jackson MMA.
For your first few matches, you can train at any gym to learn some moves, but eventually you have to choose one gym to be exclusive to for the rest of your career. While it's a novel idea, it makes the decision really tough as it was great being able to visit different gyms and learn different styles and make your fighter more well-rounded.
As stated before, the post-fight interviews have been removed along with the number of fans that you have. In their place is an added importance to the CRED that you receive from winning fights and having sponsors.
It has been made into the currency of career mode as you use CRED to buy training sessions and camp visits. You also use it to buy new clothes for your fighter, along with new sponsor logos.
One of the best things about the "Undisputed" games have been the amount of customization that is allowed to the player. This year is no different. Players are allowed to not only customize their fighter, but also their entrances for when they enter as a regular fighter or as a champion.
Other changes that have been made include full customization your banner by adding sponsors, accomplishment badges or your gym logo. Another nice addition is modification of your trunks. Before you were only able to put logos on in different places and change the size
Now, you're able to rotate logos in order to make them fit to maximize CRED from your sponsors.
Overall, the game is a vast improvement on the last installment of the series and is a must-own for MMA fans and gamers. Nearly everything that has been added to the game from Pride mode to the revamped career mode are fantastic and add to the fun of the game along with the replay value. The only real drawback is that some things in the game like Ultimate Fights have to be unlocked by buying a DLC pack.
Other than that the game is worth every penny. If you haven't already, go buy this game.