Tuesday, February 14, 2012

UFC Undisputed 3 Review

UFC is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and has been around on gaming consoles since the launch of UFC Undisputed 2009 in that year. Just over a year later THQ released UFC Undisputed 2010 and it looked like this was going to turn into an annual franchise like many EA Sports titles. While the game was good, it wasn't great and the developers realised this. Soon after UFC 2010 was released they announced that the development time would be extended to 18 months to allow a higher standard of UFC game in the future. So here we have it with a Q1 2012 release instead of a Q3 2011 title and wow, those extra 6 months have definitely allowed for UFC to become one of the great sporting franchises to this date. The UFC is back and better than ever before.


The Undisputed series has always had a step up on the competition (Mainly EA Sports MMA) with the big names of the sport and the television style presentation EA is generally known for. Previously though, the game really lacked in other areas such as quite average menus and misguided steps through the various modes. UFC Undisputed 3 cleans up the menus to make them easy to navigate as well as the revamped career mode which now has you guide through by some helpful words of advice. You are guided through the first few fights in such a way that you will instantly be able to feel comfortable continuing on by yourself.

The UFC series has always had brilliant graphics and a large roster of fighters which accurately reflect their human counterparts right down to smallest of bicep tattoos. Animations inside the octagon are immaculate and I could hardly fault them. Not once did I go in a fight and see glitches in the movements, odd body angles or the mysterious mixture of bodies in close combat fighting. It is amazing how seasoned titles such as NBA 2K will still have these graphical hitches on occasion and UFC can master it immediately. Fighting is a slick and easy experience that is limited by only your skill with the controller rather than the movement of your player in the midst of a fight, as it should be.

You could be forgiven to be mistaken for an actual UFC match when you get into this game. The same format as the television broadcast is present, right down to the opening scenes and match up statistics before a fight. Love him or hate him, Bruce Buffer is back once again in all of his incredibly loud glory introducing the best fighters in the world. One key aspect which was vital to providing a true UFC experience was accurately conveying the power behind every hit. Even when I hit someone on the head with a metal chair in WWE, I've never had one of those feelings when the pain is transferred to you. UFC has no such issues, every hit hurts. Bone crunching kicks or elbows to the face will have you cringing in pain for your fighter as you just hear the savage impact of fist on face. Rocking an opponent blurs the screen and allows for you to deliver some devastating blows which just feel completely brutal.


A large variety of choices has always graced the UFC series and this title is no different. Whether it is in game with the many fighting styles such as Muay Thai, Kickboxing and being a straight up boxer or the game modes where you can progress through a career or challenge the Title and Title Defence modes. All these modes are back and better than ever with vast improvements being made to each one, although career mode received the biggest makeover. The task of taking an unknown fighter from the bottom of the rung to being the best UFC fighter in the world was a tedious one in Undisputed 2010. The game focused on stat management more than actually fighting with degrading skills which would diminish in the blink of an eye if you didn't tend to them. The developers took the problem to heart and fixed it, removing the diminishing stats and instead putting the focus back on what should count, the fighting.

While it comes at the end of your career, you will learn early on about the exciting new addition to UFC called Pride mode. Pride is a now defunct league that had different rules to UFC and was fought in a boxing ring rather than the Octagon. The primary differences between the leagues is the sheer brutality allowed in Pride such as head stomps and soccer kicks. There is no surprise why this kind of stuff isn't allowed in real life anymore, but its great to be able to experience it here in UFC Undisputed 3.

Another new feature included in the actual gameplay is a submission mini game which leaves the previous spamming of the right thumbstick to gain a submission. Rather than putting a premature end to the life of many controllers, a new mini game pops up which requires the person who initiated the submission to move their bar over the opponents (who is trying to escape) in an octagon shaped puzzle. The more damage caused to the opponent, the bigger their bar and slower that they can move so a submission can be achieved easier. At first I didn't like it, but after going back to UFC 2010 I realised how much of an improvement it is over the constant rotation of my thumbstick.

There are two main areas to a UFC fight. The stand up game is where you will be punching and kicking your opponent, delivering powerful blows which can deliver a knockout in an instant. Attempt a takedown however you will come across the ground game which is highly technical and is arguably the most strenuous part of a real fight. Fighters experience in Muay Thai and other eastern forms of fighting will be able to attempt many submissions as well as transition into favourable positions and deliver some devastating ground and pound to the opponent. As difficult as this was in real life, it was equally as challenging to learn in previous titles as difficult controls meant that new players often found themselves over their head in mastering the control setup. Probably the biggest change for Undisputed 3 is the inclusion of an amateur control setup to go along with the classic 'pro' controls. Instead of using specific right thumbstick movements, a simple flick up or down lets you transition and left or right to counter an opponents transition. This makes it easier for first timers, as well as allowing friends to come and play without being overawed as soon as the game goes to the ground.

There is just so much to do in this game which makes it a great purchase. Once you go through the lengthy career mode, complete the title and title defence modes then test out the pride league in exhibition with a few friends, we come across online. I found previous titles laggy and it really makes such a strategic game hard and often people reverted to slug fests since the precision of the ground game couldn't be achieved. Online is now cleaner and more accessible, I didn't encounter any issues when trying to play people online. Playing against other humans which have unorthodox fighting styles compared to the AI is really interesting and provides a nice challenge. You will be fighting and continually unlocking new content all the way to UFC Undisputed 4.


It is so great to see a game that is below the bar and the developers realise this so they take the necessary steps to correct the issues present. UFC Undisputed 3 is the definitive fighting game for this generation of consoles. Finally we have a game which is inviting for newcomers while also presenting a challenge for those who are seasoned veterans of the octagon. Fighting is again at the forefront of the experience in career mode and the vast amount of modes available creates an experience which is unrivalled. This is a definite contender for sports game of the year, there is not enough praise I can give for this title which has instantly become a favourite of mine.

Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 9.5/10
Gameplay - 9.5/10
Overall - 9.5/10