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UFC Undisputed 2010

 

UFC Undisputed 2010

Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Fighting
 
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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has picked up a lot of attention over the past couple of years. Not only has the sport itself grown, but there have been lots of other aspects that have been developed in order to further its' appeal. From reality shows to licensed merchandise, there is a large amount of stuff out there for fans of the sport to buy. If there is one name that is synonymous with the sport of MMA it is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) name that first comes to peoples minds. UFC is really what MMA is all about, especially given the exposure that comes along with the name.

Last year THQ released their first fighting game based on the UFC franchise; UFC Undisputed 2009. This virtual version of the sport garnered a lot of attention, and overall it was a pretty solid game. Last week I got a chance to sit down with the next instalment of this franchise, UFC Undisputed 2010, slated to be released on May 25th. THQ hosted a preview event in Las Vegas, which is home to Dana White, Zuffa Productions, and of course the UFC and its' training center. Things are different this year given that EA has stepped up to the ring so to speak as they are offering up their first MMA game, so there is a new challenger in town looking to take away from THQ's premier MMA fighting game in 2010. The preview event focused on the new and improved Career Mode as well as multiplayer play, specifically the new tournament mode. I spent most of the evening messing around with Create-a-Fighter mode and playing the Career mode as I was really interested to see what improvements were made at this point. I should also note that I was assigned the PS3 version of the game.

There have been quite a few changes made in the Create-a-Fighter mode, and although I would love to touch on them all, I just don't have the time, nor room, in this preview. That being said, I do note a few of the changes that will make this area of the game better. Fans will notice that they can truly make a fighter that looks the way they want him too look. Tattoos and logos can be placed anywhere this time around and there are more names (100 first and 100 last names) for you to choose from. There are also more custom introductions and celebrations allowing you to have your own look as your custom fighter enters the ring and celebrates a knockdown. There are also 50% more Create-a-Fighter parts for more customization of your personally made fighter as well as new sponsors and post fight clothing. Overall, visually speaking, you can make a UFC fighter that looks like you, or you can make one that looks like anyone else you can think of. There is a lot more flexibility in the ability to custom design your fighter this time around.

I found the menu system to make your own fighter quite intuitive, but if I had any complaint it was that there was a bit of lag when each specific item (e.g. hair, eyebrow, clothing, etc.) loaded up and was placed onto your character. I think that as gamers we have been spoiled by another THQ game with a deep Create-a-Fighter type mode, and that would be the one found in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010. The create a wrestler mode is flawless with virtually no loading times when you pick items for your wrestler. It is my hope that Undisputed 2010's Create-a-Fighter mode becomes a little more speedier like the one found in SmackDown vs. Raw 2010.

So after making my own UFC fighter it was off to the Career mode I went. Again, just like the Create-a-Fighter mode, there are quite a few changes to be found here. First off is that the Career mode stretches out over 12 years whereas last year's Career mode stretched over 7 years. You'll find that your fighters skills and attributes will be affected by age using a new Stat Decay System. You have to maintain your characters stats in order to keep them up. Also new this time around is that you start our as an amateur fighter before you start your professional career. You can compete in up to five fights prior to joining the pro-ranks. Once you are in the pro-ranks you will fight in the World Fighting Alliance (WFA) where you will try to attract the attention of the UFC by winning as many fights as possible. During my time with the game I had a rough start and was 1 and 4, however I was able to turn this around to 5 and 4 before I took some time to watch the multiplayer tournament that was being ran that night. As I started to win more my coach indicated that the UFC was starting to keep their eye on me and I was starting to attract more attention.

Something new this year, which plays a paramount role, is your popularity and CRED levels. Popularity will dictate the unlocking of sponsors in Undisputed 2010 (as opposed to CRED last year). You earn popularity by winning fights or by participating in media type events (e.g. interviews or press workouts). If anyone played the 2009 version of Undisputed, you will remember that you had to wait until the end of your career before opening up the really great sponsor stuff; well this time around you can unlock these types of items much earlier. CRED returns this year, but its main focus is on your fighter's progression based on items like sparring partners and training programs which improves your skills and attributes. The more CRED you have the more points you will earn towards your progression of skills and/or attributes that, unlike last year, you can decide on where to focus them and not have to rely on the game itself to do the assigning.

Although you can create your own fighter there are over 100 UFC fighters in the game should you just want to get right down to it. There are also unlockables on top of the roster available when you first play the game. PS3 owners get three exclusive fighters that are not available on any other console too including Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Jenz Pulver. So, to say there in not a lot of choice in fighters is like saying that water is not wet.

Along with the aforementioned changes listed above one must consider the most important part of the game: the gameplay itself. Undisputed 2010 does not disappoint here and I found a few things really stood out for me in this area.

First off was the new Dynamic Combo System. Last years version of the game allowed you to combine attacks, but this year you can combine any kind of move such as sways, attacks, blocks, etc. Here your moves will flow into one another. As I learned new moves from the "invite camp" section of the game, I started to incorporate them into those that I already had a general knowledge of. As the fight progressed on the screen in front of me I was pretty amazed by how good the fighting looked, and how fluidly I could string things together. It gave the game a sense of realism as you know that the real UFC fighters string together all kinds of moves on the fly when involved in a heated battle in the octagon.

Another area that I found to be very well implemented was the new and improved ground game. New is the adoption of a Posturing System and Seesaw Submission redesign. In terms of the Posturing System, the ground game really does focus on a risk vs. reward system. You will learn, as I had to, when to use your posturing, which actually gives up a bit of the ability to hold your opponent on the mat, in order to deliver harder and potentially match ending strikes. As for the Seesaw Submission, this is a new visual representation of when a struggle for submission ensues and the whole action of such is plays out in real time. In last years game submissions used a static (pre-canned) animation to communicate the steps to submissions, but in this years version you will play them out from step one right down to when your opponent escapes or taps out. This seesaw battle is very realistic and you will need to utilize 'The Shine' (UFC Undisputed's circular rotations on the right analog) in order to move closer to, or escape the submission move. It took me a while to get the hang of this aspect of the game (hey, my virtual ground game sucks) but it really did add to the whole virtual UFC experience.

As I played through the evening, I have to admit that I didn't have a great start. As mentioned earlier in this preview my custom fighter went 1 and 4 in my first 5 fights. It was at this time that I learned more on how to manage my skills and attributes, as well as when to train, when to rest, and when to focus on specific things. I began to learn new moves, changed up my strategy when fighting, and started doing things that I did not do in my first five fights. As I did these things I won my next 4 fights in a row, and the rewards started to come in. From new sponsors, to levelling up, to being noticed by the UFC, my career was starting to improve dramatically in the game. This only hits home how deep the career mode in the game really is. The work that you put in your career can come back twofold in your career results. It is really quite rewarding to say the least and something that should satisfy most gamers out there.

With all the praise that I have for the game at this stage, there were a couple of things that bothered me.

The first is that the speed of the game later on into one's career, or when using the actual UFC fighters, can be almost too fast. It is like the speed represents the challenge the better you get. That being said, I really don't remember any UFC Pay-Per-Views being this fast in terms of how the fighters looked or moved. Sure, in real life they are good and fast at what they do, but they don't look like they are on some sort of speed enhancing drug, and the game at times looks like this. This could be attributed to the fact that this game is just wrapping up development and that the last bit of fine tuning is on its way.

The other thing that was a bit disheartening, but in a somewhat positive way, was how deep this game is. To the casual gamer this game has almost way too much too offer. From the moves, to the amount of fighting styles, to the amount of fighters, if you don't know the UFC, or you don't follow MMA at all, these aspects of the game can be intimidating. That being said, I am not the most avid UFC fan, as I only dabble in Pay-Per-Views and occasionally follow MMA news, but I was able to fully enjoy the depth and features that this UFC branded game offers. Bottomline, this game is pretty darn deep.

I have to say that the time I spent with the preview build showed me that THQ really does love and respect this franchise and that the changes they have made seem to have been for the best. The fighting engine that is offered up in UFC Undisputed 2010 is incredible with a level of depth and fighting styles being unparalleled to date. Even with the very few concerns noted above, I would have to venture to say that THQ has thrown down the gauntlet in this new MMA video game war and that EA has a lot of work ahead of them if they remotely stand a chance to match the effort that Undisputed 2010 has put forth.

Watch for our review of the final retail build in the next few weeks for a further in-depth analysis of all the features and what we think of the final product.

- Kirby Y












 
 

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