Tuesday was the day UFC fans across the country have been waiting for as the first proper mixed martial arts game in years hit store shelves in the form of UFC: Undisputed 2009.
Reviews for the game have been mostly positive so far and for good reason: UFC Undisputed 2009 does a remarkable job of capturing the atmosphere and style of MMA and the sport’s top organization.
Fighters look decidedly authentic for the most part all the way down to their trunks and sponsor banners inside the Octagon, Joe Rogan, and Mike Goldberg’s commentary is convincing and spot-on, and even the popular UFC referees and ringside announcer Bruce Buffer make appearances along with famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) president Dana White.
The stand-up fighting mechanics are solid and the many flash knockout possibilities are always exciting. While the punches and kicks can sometimes look stiff and almost “canned” in action, the mechanics are good, and the controls are responsive.
The ground game isn’t quite as good or fair as the action the fighters provide on their feet, but just the fact that developer THQ was able to make it into a functioning part of the engine is a small miracle because of the complexities of jiu-jitsu and transferring it to video game controls.
That being said, THQ deserves some flak for some of the ground animations such as finishing a downed fighter. The animation is deliberate, slow, and robotic instead of capturing the adrenaline rush of a UFC fighter racing in like a shark who sees blood in a feeding frenzy and attacking with reckless abandon. Some of the escapes are also a bit unrealistic and disrupt the traditional jiu-jitsu chess matches you see in the real thing.
There are also issues with the proportions and sizes of the fighters as Brock Lesnar for example, who isn’t nearly as wide and lumbering as he is in real life and Mirko Cro Cop, who is much more top-heavy in the game than his thick-legged real life self.
As for game modes, the career mode is deep and engaging, requiring players to manage their time and to survive as a raw fighter without a whole lot of moves until they find more time to train. Create-a-fighter options are deep, with a few head-scratching flaws, like the inability to make a heavyweight weigh anything more or less than 235 pounds clouding things a little bit.
The Classic Fights mode is also a fun diversion as players are tasked with recreating results such as getting a KO or TKO in the second round against Rich Franklin with Anderson Silva in reference to their most recent title clash. Wins unlock video montages of the fights and the mode is worth playing simply to see which new outfit video host Rachelle Leah will show up in next to introduce the fight clips.
Overall, UFC Undisputed achieved exactly what it set out to do and then some, creating the blueprint for what is a beautifully playable and authentic (for the most part) MMA video game franchise.
Some hardcore UFC fans might be a bit disappointed at some of its rough edges, but consider a purchase or a down payment on an even better version of the game next year, as well as a chance to enjoy what has to be the finest MMA game that’s ever been made.