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UFC Undisputed 2010 (X360)

UFC Undisputed 2010 (X360)

UFC Undisputed 2010

UFC Undisputed 2010

The rise of the UFC is no accident. Sports fans have grown weary of the toothless aggression handed out to them by the overbloated and greedy boxers that hang around long after they are capable in the hope of one last payday. Soccer has become virtually a non-contact sport and even rugby has people feigning injuries with blood capsules so obviously fake they belong in a Hammer Horror movie. Even wrestling, which was unashamedly fake, has lost some of its shine as the rules of what shows can and can’t do on American network TV seem to have been tightened.

Those who want to see what true sport is all about have gravitated to the showcase of mixed martial arts, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The average fight card has all the sense of occasion of a cup final, the glitz and glamour of the races, the slick packaging of WWE and at the heart of it all two combatants who will put their bodies on the line to show who is better. The fights are every bit as engaging as they are brutal and its popularity is still on the up. It was something ripe for a computer game tie-in but few predicted just how good UFC Undisputed would be. THQ delivered an experience that stood shoulder to shoulder with any fighter released in 2009, a mix of technical know-how, realism and exciting action.

Where the first game had been an unexpected surprise there was a lot of expectation surrounding the sequel. In this climate would THQ be able to deliver another knockout or would it instead be slogging its way to a disappointing split decision?

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The good news is they haven’t tinkered too much with the control system. A huge plus point of the first game, the controls were detailed, utilising every part of the control pad, yet intuitive enough that after a while even a novice gamer could be stringing strike combos and ground transitions together without having to think about it. This time around there is a little bit more detail to take in but nothing that would feel “alien” to existing players and nothing that would make it feel too challenging for those fresh to the series.

In fact the new depth in the control system is entirely welcome. The ground game and clinches were oversimplified in the first game if anything and here that has been resolved. Now rather than just jostling for a few set positions there are a lot more options from these positions. A particularly nasty way to submit an opponent is by using a submission transmission, which the hold the aggressor has locked in against the defending players is suddenly changed to another one and the method of escape – rotating the stick clockwise – reverses in time with the change. The disruption this brings to the rhythm and timing required for a successful escape or reversal adds a new degree of challenge that will undoubtedly catch some players off guard.

The same can be said for the improved environmental controls which now make it possible to use the cage to our advantage. Using strength and timing an opponent can be pushed into a corner and then successfully teed off against, a volley of blows connecting while they desperately try to escape or absorb as much as they can. The inability to use the cage was something strangely absent from the first game and here it is a welcome addition, something the fans asked for and got.

The physics engine also feels greatly improved with the animations feeling a lot more fluid and the connections from blows, especially the knockout punches that lead to the rag-doll collapses, are a lot more realistic. Even though this is just a game, be under no illusion that anyone playing it will be wincing at some of the contacts even after a hundred matches.

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Another welcome tweak is that UFC is now less forgiving when it comes to dealing out the punishment. Fighters become “gassed” – the industry preferred term for knackered – a lot quicker than they used to meaning that true mastery of the game revolves around picking when to deal out strikes and when to elect for more devastating blows. Counter-punching too yields better results than before and with the perfect timing unlikely flash knock outs can occur with just once punch.

This is of course all mechanical and likely of little interest to the casual button basher or people who are dipping their toe into UFC waters after seeing the rave reviews of the older game. Well, everything anyone would want from a fighting game is here too. Over 100 different fighters across a range of weight classes, even stars from yesteryear, are all here with accurate fight records and styles. There is also the option to create up to forty fighters for use in the games flagship career mode or just as stand-alone fighters for exhibition only fights, thus giving players the option to create some hilarious celebrity mismatches if they so desire, or put themselves into the game.

The amount of game modes are too incredibly satisfying and all come with a wide range of unlocks and rewards. Exhibition fights are exactly that, one off sojourns into a world of mixed martial arts fantasy and with so many different fighters that will take plenty of time to get bored of, with MMA aficionados unlikely to ever do so. However there are also new ways to frame these fantasy fights, each one providing its own rewards. Event mode enables players to have a full fight card of anyone they like and play through their dream line-up. Title mode allows players to pick a fighter and string victories together to claim the belt and then have to defend them, each time providing points that can be spent in the virtual shop unlocking new clothes, nicknames and fighter animations.

There’s also the opportunity to relive history by re-enacting some of the classic fights from UFC’s long history as well as some of the best from the last year or so. Each one of these is introduced by a scantily clad woman, making it feel like one of those British adult channels we would know nothing about, and comes with video footage from the pre-match interview and training segments. A nice touch, however these are certainly the most challenging parts of the game with their victory conditions seeming extremely rigid. For example, if a fighter has won a match by a decision, then the player is expected to emulate that. However three, or sometimes five, rounds in a tired fighter can be all too prone to being knocked out cold from even a delicate seeming punch. What is the option? Not throw anything at all? Still, getting an unlock of the complete fight – all of them extremely entertaining and ones true fans will remember – is a fair reward for the effort put in.

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The other huge improvement is in the games career mode. Whereas before there was a lack of detail, variety and options, a lot has been tweaked to make each career feel unique. The range of “create a fighter” options have been greatly expanded and this coupled with potential unlocks does give a reason to keep plugging away at different weights. It has to be said too that fighters can now get into feuds with rivals, curry favour with the fans through engaging in PR activities and the option to move up a weight if competition is becoming stale is another new development that will add longevity to the game.

Customising the fighter is now not just about the looks but also their moves. Visiting training camps before was a way to earn a stats boost but now it is where signature moves are learned and refined. A starting fighter will begin with a standard set of moves based on their default discipline. However, it is possible, with frequent visits to these camps, to learn more moves that individualise a fighter’s armoury. Again, it is something that ensures that no career need ever be the same, which is an improvement on the first game.

Again the graphics have been vastly improved over last year’s entry. The fighter’s likenesses are a lot more accurate and lifelike, the skin textures in particular looking more realistic and adding an extra dimension of believability to the combat in the ring. Those textures are quickly replaced with welts and cuts as blows are landed and it is worryingly satisfying to see blood pumping from a cut to an opponent’s head, or see them clutching a huge, purple bruise likely indicating broken ribs. For some reason the only character in the game that seems to look nothing like his real life counterpart is the UFC Supremo Dana White.

The animations are also a lot smoother and the gaps and glitches between blows landing and registering have almost all been ironed out, with only the occasional one visible in slow motion replays. The ground game animations in particular look a lot more convincing and have a lot more detail added to them.

How fights are presented is also incredibly accurate and completely mirrors what viewers would watch in a real life event. The same graphics are used in the “tale of the tape” introductions and everywhere are real life sponsor logos and products that exist outside of the game world.

All in all it is a great looking fighting game, avoiding any cartoony clichés that would have jarred in a game that really wants to ram home the harsh reality of life as a modern gladiator.

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In fighting games the sound can often be overlooked and here it is clear special attention has been paid to making sure the sound enhances the gaming experience. The blows all make accurate sounding thuds and slaps depending on where they connect and the big hits are given that cinematic “boom” for extra impact. This is most apparent when a fighter becomes rocked from a blow and is fighting to stay in the match, their shallow breathing becoming louder and everything else seeming muffled and distorted.

The music is the same as what has gone before, a mix of generic heavy rock tunes and that which is used in UFC programming. Casual fans will recognise the introductory theme for the fight night events but the more dedicated fans will hear music used in The Ultimate Fighter reality show and many more besides. Still, a game like this doesn’t really need that much of a soundtrack and the music just hangs in the background only jumping forward to fill in gaps between the action.

The voice acting ticks all the boxes with the exception again of Mr. White’s contribution, which at times is fairly cringe worthy. The first time a fighter is asked to join the UFC in career mode and he turns to the screen and says “That’s right bitches!” Is a particular highlight. The English accent as well is particularly atrocious sounding exactly like the kind adopted by every English hooligan in American movies. Everyone else has done a sterling job and the extra excitement it adds to the game when players actually hear the likes of Chuck Liddell hyping their own fights and talking about gameplans before the big fights can’t be downplayed.

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THQ did what needed to be done by following exactly the same model that the UFC itself did. Bigger, louder, faster and more detailed than its predecessor, the game has grown in a way that really makes the first title seem dated and rusty by comparison. In the same way anyone can watch the fights of yesteryear with a genuine fondness equally it is clear they can’t be compared to the all-round athletes of today and so it is with this game. The fight game of 2010? No doubt and it looks set to hold that title both undefeated and undisputed.

Gameplay 94/100 A great control system that is both detailed and intuitive makes for an almost instant understanding yet the game rewards those who practice and broaden their skill-set.
Graphics 93/100 Looks great and the fights have a genuine sense of physicality to them. Authentic presentation also adds to the overall experience.
Audio 88/100 The fight sounds are perfect and generate a genuine atmosphere when in fight. With all the top names contributing voice acting material too it is a very polished package.
Value 93/100 Loads to do, loads to unlock and loads to learn, the game will occupy plenty of time and knows how to reward time invested.
(Not an Average)
93/100 A true champion in a genre full of brash pretenders the game has improved in every way over the last year and stands toe to toe with any of the classics.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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