UFC 2009: Undisputed Review

ChiCitySports .ComCorrespondent IMay 25, 2009

So, you think you got what it takes to play a video game?

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Let's be realistic here for a second. Forget that climbing a flight of stairs almost makes you pass out, forget that you can't bench press a hockey stick or curl a deck of cards, and forget about that double-decker sandwich you just ate and its adverse effects on your circulation. YOU have what it takes to fight in the UFC.

That’s right, you.

Minus a few wrong turns here and there, it could very well be you lining up across George St. Pierre for the welterweight title. Or maybe in your case, lining up across Brock Lesnar for the heavyweight title (since they don’t make a super-ultra-heavyweight division).

So what went wrong?

Besides the motivation, training, and constant nagging from a man that’s half your size, you simply never got the chance to showcase your skills.

Surely if the opportunity presented itself, you would’ve knocked your opponent out in the clinch, connected on a spinning back fist, or performed a triangle choke to gain your reputation as a fighter and eventually have a shot at the title.

But since things never work out the way you want (sorry dreamers), there’s always UFC 2009: Undisputed to fall back on. And what you lack in physical ability, you make up for with an uncanny ability to develop a reliable plan-B.

The gameplay in Undisputedis really what it’s all about. The graphics are sharp with very few—if any—graphical nuances (things like punches going through your opponent or a foot getting lost under the mat), the commentary from Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg is smooth, and the controls—although there’s a bit of a learning curve—are fairly simple and “fit” well with the game.

The 80 fighters to choose from all have their own unique styles, shapes and skills, and each fighter has their own distinctive feel when fighting. This is no doubt a bright spot in the game, as you’re not just picking a fighter’s name and getting the same results time after time from different guys; you’re picking a certain style and size as well.

Gone are the days of button mashing, 60-button combinations, and fire-ball power-ups. You now must master an extremely deep button control system to give yourself a chance in most fights. When to kick, when to shoot, when to transition, when to submit, when to attack, when to yield, when to block and when to reverse.

All of these factors are based on what your fighter specializes in, how close you are to the opponent or what position you’re in, and how much knowledge you have of your controller. Failing to execute at any time in a fight could be the end of your days on top, even if it’s the first punch of the match.

That’s right; without a health bar, Undisputedis based solely on “sweet spots” and how your fighter looks. If he’s hanging his arms or his strikes look slow, you better believe he’s tired.

If you catch a guy on the button with your first strike of the fight, you better believe he’ll get knocked out. It’s a scary element of the game, but real life is pretty scary too, and you’re supposed to be cut out for this UFC thing, right?

The only kidney shot that Undisputeddelivers to its fans is the lack of cage interaction. It is unfortunate that you can’t use the fence to your advantage—or at all—during any fight, since it is so important in real UFC action.

The juice of the game is the career mode, where you create a fighter, have him fight in...fights, and work your way up the rankings until eventually, and hopefully, you become a champion within your seven-year contract.

The create-a-fighter mode is very in depth, and you create everything from the name to how good he is at ground transitions. You can develop your own strengths and weaknesses, or you can make everything even-steven and work everything up simultaneously. The choice is completely up to you.

Once in career mode, you’ll be faced with a daunting calendar and a couple of options for how to prepare for your upcoming fights. Unfortunately, the “training” is nothing more than the click of a button, but you get to compete against another trainer when you spar.

Use the skills earned in these tasks towards your fighters skills, stamina, strength and speed—the better you do in the sparring, the more points you get to use—all the while maintaining your stamina and staying in shape for your upcoming fight.

It would be cool to have seen more features involved with this, but at the same time, those could get repetitive and boring over time, so it was probably a good move by THQ to leave them out. Win your fights and you’ll earn sponsorships and a chance to spar with other fighters already in the UFC to further develop your skills.

Prepare for fight, fight in fight, move in rankings, and repeat. Mix in a few newsletters from your opponent saying how you’re as weak as his grandmother, along with a couple on-line interviews and photo-shoots (which you don’t personally participate in *sigh*), and you’ve got yourself the bread and butter of the game.

The on-line portion of the game delivers as well. There is almost no lag, and certainly not enough to affect the outcome of a fight. And the only thing better than serving up a punishing high kick to knock out your best friend, is to serve up a punishing high kick to knock out somebody you don’t know on-line.

The tutorial/practice, exhibition and classic fights wrap up the final game modes of Undisputed. Classic fights are surprisingly enjoyable, although sometimes it’s a bit tough to get a fight to go to decision. Exhibition mode is fun, but they could’ve spiced it up a bit more by letting you fight between weight classes. How about a trophy for beating a heavyweight with a lightweight?

With exciting gameplay, a solid career mode and a strong on-line aspect, UFC 2009: Undisputedis easily the best installment in the MMA video game library. Now go create your virtual-life counterpart and do what your real-life counterpart couldn’t: win the championship belt.


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