I finally received my copy of UFC Undisputed 2010 for the Xbox 360 on Thursday (so much for paying for "guaranteed street-release date delivery").
Although I have very little spare time, I have managed to play around with most of the different game modes that 2010 has to offer.
So has THQ been able to trump the 2009 Fighting Game of the Year with their sophomore edition of the series?
While there have been some great improvements made, there are still areas in which the game lacks, and there is an addition that will have gamers, and used video game stores, all sorts of mad.
First, I would like to start off with the good.
The graphics have improved greatly from 2009's addition.
The fighters look more life-like, the audience is more animated, and the ring-card girls don't looked deformed. I'm very impressed by the level of detail that went into each of the game's fighters, especially the tattoos.
Now I can not say with 100-percent certainty that the graphics are as greatly improved as I say they are; I upgraded from a 1080p DLP to a 240HZ 1080P LED LCD TV since the last time I played 2009.
It may just be the TV, but I doubt it.
Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan do an even better job this year calling the play-by-play action. Last year, the announcing got very repetitive, very quickly.
I have played about 30 fights so far, and I have not found the commentary to be repetitive...yet.
Now I did notice that they did steal a few lines from last year's edition. Joe Rogan confusing half and side control was the first I noticed.
But nonetheless, it shows that THQ put some effort in making the commentary better, and I feel they succeeded.
When playing the game, it has the feel that you are not only playing, but you are watching a UFC event. The pre-fight remains mainly unchanged, but there are some in-fight changes that are a welcomed addition.
The most notable is the way cuts are handled.
Last year, cuts and swollen eyes just affected your ability to block incoming strikes. This year, they can actually cause the fight to be stopped.
In 2009, the striking styles were fairly generic as you had a handful of different "cookie cutter" ways of striking. This time around, the fighters actually throw strikes they do in real life.
For instance, I have yet to be able to throw a jab or a straight punch while playing as Wanderlei Silva. I'm not saying it's not possible, but I haven't managed to be able to do it yet.
Another welcomed addition is the ability to recover when you are rocked. You could last year, but it was much more difficult that it is this year. Last year, if you hit the ground while your screen was gray, you were done for.
Now, you can actually cover up and recover if you're rocked on the ground, get up, and fight on.
And this may be minor, but I found it to be pretty cool: Depending on the ending of the fight, the losing fighter may be standing with the ref in the middle of the octagon or they may be on the ground being looked at by the doctors.
I know it's a little change, but it all adds in to the overall authentic feel of the game.
Added Game Modes
THQ added in a few modes that adds to the "pick up and play" value of the game.
The first is Tournament Mode. I know that this will appeal to all of the fans that long for the old school tournament days.
The name of it says it all. You set up an eight-man bracket, pick out which fighter(s) you want to control, and fight your way toward the title. I could see this being tons of fun when you have some friends over for and want to be able to play something where everyone can get in to the action.
The next mode is Title Mode. Here, you pick your fighter, and fight through 8, 10, or 12 fights in way of winning the Championship. This has the arcade fighting game feel. If you lose, it's no big deal. You just pick "rematch" and you can pick up where you left off.
After beating Title Mode, you unlock Title Defense Mode. You play as the fighter you won the Championship with and fight through four three-man brackets, which each bracket increasing in difficulty.
To be honest, I'm not sure what happens when you defeat this game mode; I haven't made it past the third bracket.
Unfortunately, now I have to talk about the bad parts of the game.
This was my biggest gripe about the first game, and they didn't do much to improve it this time around.
The interface is still mostly calender based, where you pick what stat you want to improve on.
The addition of learning new techniques by training with different camps, fighter relationships, and "Champion vs. Champion" fights are nice—but they're not enough to keep me engaged enough to grind through the menus more than you fight.
Now I'm not sure if this is a bad part of the game or something that just bugs the crap out of me, but I was unable to escape anytime Anderson Silva got me in the Muay Thai Plum.
While fighting against him using Wanderlei Silva, I tried to get out of it 43 to no avail. I just kept eating knees to the face until I eventually got knocked out.
While THQ did add an online feature called "Xbox Live Fight Camps", I am unable to access this feature because "my family settings do not allow to access game modes with user created content."
After spending almost a hour on the phone with Microsoft, I gave up.
Speaking of online play, this is an issue that either THQ or Microsoft needs to seriously address. Whoever is hosting the match has a major advantage over the guest.
I won every match I hosted while I lost every match I joined.
Whenever I was the guest in a match, my punches always lagged behind those of the host, and vise versa. I even got submitted before I had a chance to defend it.
I know it has nothing to do with my 20MB Internet connection, so it must have something to do on Xbox Live's end.
Whatever the deal is, it needs to be fixed.
Now here is where things get very, very ugly.
You don't have to pay to play it online, but Xbox Live makes you think you do
So I put the game in for the first time and a message popped up that said something along the lines of, "You will need to download additional content in order to play this game on Xbox Live."
Ok, no problem.
So I went ahead and downloaded it without paying much attention.
This was a mistake on my part.
After the download was finished, I noticed 400 Microsoft Points—or $5 to PS3 players—missing from my account.
WHISKY TANGO FOXTROT?
After consulting the Oracle (Google), I found out that there is a code on the back of the instruction manual that you redeem instead of paying the 400 Microsoft Points—or $5—to play online.
Wow, that would have been nice to know BEFORE they suckered me in to spending $5 for no reason.
That was mighty nice of you THQ and Microsoft.
Also this code, if you use it, is only good for one Xbox 360.
Well this sucks for me.
I have a Xbox in my living room, my bedroom, and in my daughter's bedroom. So I can play online from my living room (since I paid $5) and my bedroom (using the code), but my daughter can not play it online on her Xbox.
But that's not a big deal since I can't get her to stop playing Left 4 Dead 2.
I see three big problems with this.
Say you want to take it over to a friend's house: You'll have to cough up $5 to play it online there.
Say you rent it: Too bad, so sad.
Say you buy it used: Well, add another $5 if you want online play.
I realize that micro-transactions are a great way for video game developers to add to their bottom line (I have well over $100 in downloaded game extras), but paying for online play—especially when you already pay $50 a year to play on Xbox Live—is just going a little too far.
I might be willing to listen to an argument for charging for online play on the PS3 since the Playstation Network is free, but I still feel it's a little bush league on THQ's end.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Now that I'm done griping about a $5 fee, UFC Undisputed 2010 is a solid game.
The added game modes, along with the ones carried over from 2009 make the game very fun if you just want to just want to play for a few minutes or if you have the motivation to grind through the career mode.
If the online issues can be fixed, I could see that part of the game being a blast as well.
If you haven't played a UFC game yet, this is a good time to start.
If you have 2009, trade it in and get 2010.
If you have more than one Xbox, welcome to my world...
Check out our show on BlogtalkRadio.com at Midnight, right after UFC 114, as Robert Gardner, Joe Schafer, and I break down the event and listen as Robert and Joe go to verbal war over current events in the sport in "5 Rounds". Click here to listen and call (646) 381-4225 to get in on the conversation!
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