UFC Undisputed 3 (XBOX 360)
Mixed martial arts, or MMA, have come a long way since its days as a somewhat shady underground sport. Now MMA pay-per-views make millions and it has all the glitz and glamour of the biggest boxing matches or American pro wrestling.
Much of this shift in perception is down to the Ultimate Fighting Championship or UFC for short. UFC have pushed the profile of MMA straight to the top, and along with the increased popularity of the sport we have seen a couple of very decent MMA video games carrying the UFC brand.
Released on the 14th of February in North America, and the 17th of February in Europe, UFC Undisputed 3 features UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva on the front cover of the box after he won a fan vote to grace the cover of the new game. We will be taking a look at the newest release in the series, UFC Undisputed 3 which is developed by Yuke's and published by THQ, the team behind the previous UFC Undisputed titles. UFC Undisputed 3 will be available on the PlayStation 3 and the XBOX 360 and looks to expand on the gameplay from previous games.
UFC Undisputed 3 offers us a wide variety of gameplay options. First up is the exhibition mode, which is the standard jump in with both feet option that some players love. We are able to select fighters from either the UFC roster or the PRIDE roster, more on PRIDE in a moment. The UFC roster is massive, with over 150 fighters, and covers all the weight divisions from Heavyweights to Bantamweights. To wage war in we have a great selection of arenas to pick from, all featuring the classic UFC octagon.
As well as the UFC roster we also have the chance to select fighters from the PRIDE roster. PRIDE is Japanese no holds barred MMA Company and offers us quite a different experience to fighting in UFC. PRIDE mode opens up a whole new move set, which is banned in UFC... Fancy stomping on the face of a downed opponent, or launching a massive soccer kick to their head, then PRIDE is the mode for you. We are also able to swap fighters between the two rosters and play in either mode. So if we ever wanted to take our favourite UFC star and see what they can do when anything goes, then we can.
As well as the exhibition mode, UFC Undisputed 3 gives us a number of other game modes that we can use. First up is career mode, which allows us to create our own fighter and take him from a novice fighter trying to make a name in the World Fighting Alliance through to the heights of UFC or PRIDE.
Career mode has great depth, from the fully customisable fighter that we can create at the beginning through the training and sponsorship that we can get by winning fights. Along the way we get great video packages for the milestones in our career, such as our first professional fight, with UFC stars sharing their own experiences with us.
Next we have a title mode, and a title defence mode. This allows us to focus on going for a single title, fighting our way to the top. There is also a tournament mode where we can fight in an individual tournament.
Finally there is an Ultimate Fight mode. This mode allows us to participate in the greatest fights in UFC or PRIDE history. Before the fight we get a video package showing the history behind the fight and why it is considered one of the greats. We can replay the fight as it happened or we can re-write history. During the ultimate fights the game will challenge us to complete tasks, such as 5 strong punches in a row, within a certain time frame. If we manage to complete all the tasks for a particular fight then we get access to an excellent video package showing the real fight.
For any new players to the UFC world the game provides a complete tutorial that walks us through the basics of the game as well the more advanced move sets. Although we have played UFC Undisputed before it was really helpfully to complete the tutorial to remind us how best to play the game.
Finally there will be a multiplayer online mode; however as this was an advanced preview copy this option was not available for playtest.
The graphics in UFC Undisputed 3 are excellent. The player models are really good and the collision detection between the fighters is crisp, we didn't see any clipping during our gameplay. Damage dished out is nicely replicated on the fighter models, with cuts/bruises and swellings looking very realistic.
The model animation is also very good. The movement of the fighters is fluid and looks very natural. Movement capture has been utilised for some of the more popular UFC fighters, however even the archetype model movements look really good.
The arenas are very well presented in game, both for the UFC and PRIDE brands. For UFC we get the classic octagon along with a baying crowd. Occasionally we catch sight of one of the large video replay screens which are synonymous with UFC events, and we see TV footage of the fight are currently involved with, a very cool effect.
For the PRIDE arenas we have the standard boxing ring, however being Japanese we get a full on remake from UFC, including Japanese ring announcer and referee.
UFC Undisputed 3 offers a great many in game video packages and these are all produced to a very high standard.
Audio in UFC is great. The in fight audio is very good, with the punches and kicks really coming across well. The in fight commentary is also good, with appropriate comments that don't seem to repeat themselves too often.
For the PRIDE events we get proper Japanese introductions, which comes with English translation if our Japanese isn't up to scratch.
The menu and in game music is very rock orientated, which suits the game very well but might not be to everyone's taste. It is also quite loud, and highlights our only gripe with the game. The audio can only be switched on or off, there isn't a volume level control. We liked the music and would have left it playing if we could have reduced the volume just a touch.
User Experience and Conclusion
In ring action for UFC Undisputed 3 is really tight. Previous versions for the UFC game have been lauded for their fighting playability and with this release it seems Yuke's have stuck with a winning formula. Strikes are controlled via the buttons, while the ground game is controlled using the right analogue stick. Combination shots are encouraged, as is playing intelligently. UFC games have never been simple button bashers, as just like in the real sport one mistimed move and we could find ourselves knocked out cold.
Yuke's have made some changes in gameplay from the previous versions, such as including a new submission system. We found this works really well, quite simple to pick up however hard to master. There are also new KO animations and new submission moves.
Overall UFC Undisputed 3 delivers all we could ask for in a MMA fighting game. A great roster of fighters from two great organisations, get to slug it out for all the glory. The career mode has great depth to it and the other modes provide longevity of gameplay. The overall presentation of the game is excellent, and for players new to the world of UFC there is plenty of guidance offered to keep us on the right path.