Since the UFC has blown up as a promotion and is a couple weeks from its biggest event in company history when it premiers on FOX for a live Heavyweight title match, I felt it was time to talk about one aspect that has helped in making the UFC a marketable product.
While the UFC had as decent following when it started and after it was acquired by Zuffa, it really broke into the mainstream with The Ultimate Fighter TV show and the fight between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. The next logical step in order to make products that fans would buy is a video game.
Now there had been UFC video games before the first UFC Undisputed, but each of those were panned by critics and fans alike. Yet, with Undisputed, everything seemed to click and it sold better than most would have expected. More importantly, though, the game was fun to play and pretty user friendly for gamers.
The sequel would come out the following year and fix most of the problems from the previous edition, but it still had a few things that could be worked on. So with the reveal of the cover of the next Undisputed game along with the roster, I wrote this article to write about what's known about the game so far, but more importantly, what could be added to make it the best game possible for us the fans.
So far, the following details are known about the new UFC game:
Pride Mode, with Pride rules, ring and fighters. Commentary will be provided by Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros.
A brand new submission system.
Two game play control options, traditional and simplified.
Additions of Featherweight and Bantamweight division.
Over 150 fighters.
Leg Kick TKO's.
New submission moves including the standing rear naked choke, standing guillotine and the flying scissor heel hook.
New KO animations.
Redone striking game emphasizing on jabs, quick strikes and combo's.
Stat decay removed in Career Mode.
Leg-break from a checking leg kicks.
Punching your way out of clinches.
New ground positions with the cage.
Using the cage to set-up submissions.
New options for fight, such as Stamina Simulation.
Reach is now a big part in striking.
Fighters are now able to sway on the ground to avoid strikes.
So from the outset, these are fantastic additions to what is already a great series. It looks like THQ really listened to what the fans were saying and added some much needed features.
Junior Dos Santos
Mirko Cro Cop
Gabriel GonzagaCheick Kongo
Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira
With 16 fighters on the list, the Heavyweight division has the most complete roster of the older UFC divisions, since its one of its smallest with 26.
Some of the most obvious omissions this year are some fan favorites or veterans like Matt Mitrione, Joey Beltran and Mark Hunt. Even lower level ranking fighters like Christian Morecraft didn't apparently make the cut.
So here's hoping that a few more names are added to the list as a couple names are on this list solely because of the new Pride mode.
Phil Davis (DLC)
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
The most fighters in any division is for the Light Heavyweight Division with 18 fighters plus one DLC fighter.
For the most part the roster is basically the same minus a couple fairly big names that were in previous editions like Stephan Bonnar and Krzysztof Soszynksi.
While they get the bulk of the division it would have been nice to see some more new blood like Aaron Rosa and Kyle Kingsbury added to the roster.
Mayhem Miller (DLC)
Brian Stann (DLC)
Another division with a fraction of its actual size, the Middleweight division is the a considerably small division in comparison to the actual roster size. Sixteen fighters is too small for a division as big and stacked as the Middleweight division is, though the DLC of Mayhem and Stann is a good start in what hopefully is a start to adding more fighters before the game comes out.
Nick Diaz (DLC)
Dong Hyun Kim
Georges St. Pierre
This is the roster list that makes me feel that THQ only released a partial list as there are only 16 fighters plus one DLC fighter.
Luckily, the rumored lists were wrong—they didn't have Jon Fitch and Chris Lytle off the list.
Another huge division that is only being represented with a fraction of its fighters is the Lightweight division. While they get the bulk of the big names in, a few notables are missing like Joe Lauzon, Cole Miller, Cody McKenzie, and Charles Oliveira.
A good amount of fighters are in the upcoming edition for one of the two new divisions. Yet expect this number to grow within the coming editions as this division and the Bantamweights are showcased more for the UFC fans.
Surprising omissions though are TUF alumni Jonathan Brookins and Nam Phan, who have a strong background in the division: Brookins for his fight against Aldo and Phan for his fights with Leonard Garcia.
Another name missing is Tyson Griffin who had made a successful debut in the Featherweight division recently and "The Korean Zombie," Chan Sung Jung, who has a strong following due to his wars with Leonard Garcia and his use of the Twister submission hold.
Like the Featherweight division, the Bantamweight division has a small number of fighters with 16. The roster is basically the most publicly known fighters with the roster maybe growing in the coming editions of the game.
The roster has just been released online and at first glance, it's disappointing. The roster is not even close the the proclaimed 150 fighter list that fans have been hearing about, and quite a few notable names are missing from the list.
So unless the released names are only a partial list, or THQ is counting fighter who fight in two weight classes as two fighters, fans are sure to be upset.
One thing that really separated EA Sports MMA from Undisputed 2010 was the collision detection between fighters and the damage that fighters showed during fights.
In MMA, the punches and kicks—especially the soccer kicks—looked incredibly vicious and lifelike. In Undisputed, there were times, especially during replays, where the strikes wouldn't even connect with an opponent as they were getting knocked out.
Apparently THQ got the message and has upped the technology here so it's working towards making the fights look more realistic.
As far as damage, the fighter damage in Undisputed was a bit cartoon-like where fighters' faces would swell and cut, but in the same places for each fighter.
The blood would also look pixelated as it hit the ground in small spots. MMA, on the other hand, had super realistic damage where each fighter looked unique when getting damage. As for the blood, it too looked real as it would smear on the canvas of the ring as well as the fighters themselves.
If the next Undisputed did that, it would add so many more points to its realistic appeal.
One thing that really separated Undisputed from MMA was its robust career mode. You had endless options to customize your fighter, the ability to take that fighter to almost every major MMA gym, and the ability to fight in two different weight classes.
But there were also many flaws that fans found with this option. First, it became repetitive with the sparring to increase stats, if different types of exercises were thrown in for different stats, it would help alleviate that repetition.
Another form of repetition is that once you won the title, you ended up facing the same fighters over and over again—some as many as five or six times.
Sure, this was an improvement from the previous year where it could be double those numbers, but still something needs to be done. If the computer would do a better job of picking more diverse contenders, then it will make fans want to come back for more.
Another thing that the last Undisputed's career mode lacked was that it didn't seem lifelike. In the last edition of Undisputed you started out in the WFA before moving on to the UFC. To make this edition more realistic there should be multiple paths a fighter can take. There could be a TUF path where a you start out in regional promotions, and earn your way on The Ultimate Fighter to win a UFC contract, and then continue your career in the promotion. There could be a UFC/Pride career where your fighter starts in Pride and eventually joins the UFC or you alternate between promotions like some fighters had done. Also, since players can now use roster fighters in career mode, that should follow there actual career path.
When playing the harder difficulty modes, you could end up losing a few matches in a row especially if you were facing a fighter who was a bad style match to your fighter. But the only penalty that your fighter suffered was a push down the card facing lower level opponents.
In order to make the game more lifelike, if your fighter can't maintain a strong win streak, they should get cut from the UFC and have to earn their way back by picking up wins in other promotions. Strikeforce would be a logical choice, but EA may still have a licensing deal with Strikeforce so that may be out of the question. Pride or the WFA may be good options or even a made up promotion like with what EA MMA had done.
One thing that really took away from the realism is the lack of injuries. You could train to your hearts content leading up to a fight, and the only punishment was some fatigue and a note from your trainer saying to slow down.
Also, after a fight you go right back to training no matter how much damage your character sustains in a fight. To make the game more realistic, injuries should affect your fighter in a more serious manner.
If you train too hard, you should get injured to where you have to drop out of fights which could cost you contender matches or even title shots.
If that were a possible outcome, the player would have to balance their training in order to stay in top condition. Also, it could make the career mode interesting if you're not always fighting the same people but getting surprise opponents if your original opponent gets injured.
In last year's edition of Undisputed, your created fighter was able to move up in weight class unless they were a Heavyweight in which they would move down one class.
Something that would be good to see in this edition is the option to either move up or down a division—unless it's the Heavyweight or Bantamweight division. That would open up multiple options for players who want to take their created fighters in new directions.
Also, the option of being able to change weight class whenever you want should be available because locking the player into a division really limits the player in a game that is supposed to be a sports simulator.
Last year's tournament mode for single divisions was introduced to the Undisputed series and since Pride mode is being added this year, it only makes sense that open weight tournaments are added as well. Now fans will be able to have their favorite fighters from any division duke it out to see who is the best if the option is made available for them.
Want to see GSP vs. Anderson Silva—do it. Brock Lesnar vs. Dominick Cruz—go right ahead. Point is, fans of the game would go nuts if they were able to have open weight tournaments, so please THQ make that a choice for us.
One thing that has been create about career mode is the plethora of sponsors that your fighter can get during their career. Yet one thing that THQ hasn't made done is give the player and idea about the importance of sponsors and fights.
Yes title fights are important, but you don't get a sense of what Dana White has called the "perks of carrying the strap."
To create a sense of how important matches and sponsors are, the game can incorporate an income system based on the level of opponent/match type, fight bonuses, and level of sponsor.
That way with the money you earn you can buy new entrances since those are in this edition, buy extra skill points, or buy new gym equipment/sparring partners that allows for faster skill upgrades.
In regard to the bonuses, last year's Undisputed was completely random when it came to winning fight bonuses and it was almost impossible to win any yearly awards like Fighter, KO, or Match of the Year.
I guess it was in response to how easy it was to win awards in the first Undisputed game. No kidding, I ended up winning 17 KO of the Night awards, 10 Submission of the Night awards, and 20 Fight of the Night awards, all with the same fighter.
This year there needs to be a happy medium where it isn't too easy to get bonuses, but at the same time not impossible.
For the UFC fan boy in all of us, this would be the feature for you. This would place the player in the role of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and to some extent, Dana White. You would create the matches for the events and promote the events in order to create a highly successful promotion.
You would have to set up media events and conference calls in an attempt to increase ticket sales and buy rates.
It would be like GM mode in the other sports games where success is based on how well you can make a match card. You could have the choice to either simulate the fights or play them yourself in order to alter the rankings to how you want.
Other factors you have to deal with would include fighters pulling out of fights due to injury or missing conference calls, how much you charge for merchandise and tickets, and how many events you put on each year and who fights.
And with higher difficulty levels fans can get some insight to how truly difficult Joe Silva and Dana White's job is and what they go through in order to give the fans a UFC event. It would be a great addition to the Undisputed series as last year's version allowed fans to create a custom fight card, so this is the logical expansion of that option.