UFC Undisputed 3
Publisher: THQ / Yuke's
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Fighting, Sports
It's been a long time since I watched anything related to MMA and the opening video was quick to remind me that I know basically nothing about this sport anymore. Yuke's make no apologies that this is a game for dedicated fans and everyone else can either catch up fast or give up. It's not absolutely necessary to know the life story of the guy whose teeth you're knocking out but the depth is really there for someone who wants it.
Previous UFC games have always felt kind of clunky and slow to me and serious improvements have been made here. Everything works really well, punches and kicks are fluid, throws and groundstriking have real weight behind them. The submission system is easily the best I've seen. When you put your opponent in a submission an octagon appears on screen with a submission bar for each opponent, and the attacker attempts to overlap their submission bar with the defender. It really works and really benefits training your submission skills and timing when you go for the hold. Moves from the clinch are still a bit jerky and strange looking, changing position from the clinch is a bit of a mess for the novice since from casual inspection one position and another are so close as to not matter. Still it's a massive improvement and makes the game extremely accessible.
The game roster is huge, something like 150 fighters across the different weight divisions but the attention to detail swings back & forth. Some character models look perfect others look like they've been made out of play-doh, badly. I did notice more attention being paid to the heavier weight classes over the lighter ones. Differences in skill sets between striking or submission specialists are clear and applied well and if you're only relying on one trick like a takedown the AI will learn and punish you for it. Differences in weight classes are detailed as well, I found Heavyweights to be sluggish heavy hitters able to take more of a beating whereas the bantamweights at the other end of the scale could throw flurries of punches without getting tired but were more prone to losing to one big hit.
Not being especially interested in reliving some classic fight I never saw I spent most of my time in career mode with created fighters and it was time well spent. The character creation system itself is pretty slim and there's not a whole lot of options there. You start of in the now defunct World Fighting Alliance (an early competitor to the UFC that was bought out years ago by the UFCs parent company) and work your way up to getting an offer to fight in the UFC and occassionally in the PRIDE Grand Prix tournament (a Japanese MMA promotion with different rules that was purchased by the UFCs parent company). You're given up to 48 fights to improve your skills and become a legend in MMA. I'd highly recommend this mode to people without much experience in UFC games. You start off relatively inexperienced, so depending on the background you chose just getting the hang of the basics outside of tutorials is a fairly easy task and the training modes let you build up skills. There's a massive number of controls but the steady learning curve means you can start with the basics and improve your technique. Real rivalries build up over time, I was beaten twice by the same guy and when I finally beat him (with 30 seconds to go in the third round) after an absolute war the relief was incredible. The training system is quick and accessible, giving you the options to improve raw stats, individual techniques or focusing on a game plan that can give you stat bonuses if you achieve certain victory conditions. My only problem with the career mode is it's too short and I wanted to continue far longer than the 48 fights I was allowed.
So great career system, fun controls and good gameplay. And every single one of them has the rug pulled out from under it by the load times. This is a game where you can press a button and then go make a sandwich confident nothing has happened. You will easily spend 5 minutes or more going through menus and load screens to change your postfight t-shirt for the few extra credits to spend on unlockables and then go into a fight that lasts less then 5 minutes, and then it's another minute minimum before you're back to the screen where you can pick another fight. It absolutely cripples the flow of the game to have the stop to listen to product placement after product placement after cutscene. This is a fighting game, I want to hit things, I don't care who is sponsoring this match.
I'm genuinely suprised by how good this game actually was. It hasn't made me an MMA fan or anything but it's a game I'll start playing when I've got 20 minutes, even if that means 15 minutes of load screens and one fight. Highly recommended.
Rent or Buy: Buy
Reviewed by: Tony O'Hare
Story by entertainment.ie | 16:01 | Tuesday 14th February 2012 | Games
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