Thursday, 10 June 2010

Game Review: UFC 2010 Undisputed

It is undeniable that the popularity of mixed martial arts and the UFC has risen substantially in the past few years. Thanks to the UFC President Dana White, the contact sport has branched out and become a very serious contender for one of the most popular franchises in current sports. Indeed with the release of UFC 2009 Undisputed, the franchise broke into the video game world and was undoubtedly better than the WWE/NWO style of wrestling games. The real, dangerous action of MMA fighting transitioned into the video game world well, so it is impressive in itself that this instalment in the series is even better than the predecessor. Prepare yourself for bone crunching, adrenaline pumping entertainment with great in game mechanics, alongside plenty of additional modes and game-types to get involved with. It certainly isn’t a perfect package and has a fair share of lapses, but overall, UFC Undisputed 2010 is an accessible and entertaining experience.

Just like the real world equivalent, UFC 2010 is a technical game, one that perhaps, is not so easy to simply pick up and play. For a gamer looking for quick fun, this could provide an issue, nothing however, that the in game tutorial cannot fix. To brawl inside an Octagon full of various martial arts styles and techniques and be competitive in a game that regards technical striking and grappling game-play, one should not avoid the tutorial. Saying this, it takes no more than five fights from past experience to begin to really understand what you are doing and before you know it, you will be a competitive fighter. The controls are simple enough, the four face buttons mapped to your limbs, the triggers and bumpers block and alter strike damage and where the hit will land, and the most important button, the right joystick, attempts grapples, clinches and takedowns. The most difficult part of UFC 2010 comes from perhaps not understanding body positioning. Those who are knew to MMA fighting will have to experiment to understand what position your fighter has to have be in on the floor or grappling standing, to land certain blows. For example, if your opponent is on top of you in full mount, rotating the right joystick moves your character in an attempt to free yourself and gain momentum to get back up. To newcomers, this will seem like a desperate struggle to spin the joystick until something happens, while a veteran gamer or one who follows wrestling, Brazilian jujitsu and watched the UFC will understand that you must watch your opponent and move when he moves to gain leverage. For those who enjoy the sport, this is absolutely incredible realism and implemented very well, for those who do not, ground game will take a little longer to get used to as opposed to standing and landing blows.

Fortunately the ground game is not as broken as it was in last year’s game. Now it is a lot easier to get an opponent off of you and heavy blows will only be landed if the player successfully mounts and gets the correct posture to unleash ground n’ pound. At this point however, it is possible to block and easiest to escape, so it really is a trial and error type of scenario, work out what is most effective and less damaging. Of course there is the option of attempting a submission hold that can succeed by spinning the right joystick while your opponent also spins in an attempt to reverse the hold. This I find pretty pointless because as soon as your opponent breaks free, you are vulnerable to some serious punishment on the ground. When player’s endurance begins to fade in the ring, then it is worth considering throwing in a submission in an attempt to win the match. A cool addition to UFC 2010 is the ability to change submission holds in attempt to fool your opponent into spinning the joystick in the wrong direction, given you certain victory.

UFC 2010 does a fantastic job taking what its predecessor achieved, and building upon the foundations to create an even more impressive experience. On top of a massive roster to choose from, the game now for added realism, includes the physics of the cage surrounding you. This to be honest was a massive problem in the original as the cage walls play a huge roll in the sport, especially when fighters grapple each other and use the cage to gain position. This can also be seen during take downs as the cage gets in the way and allows players to use it to try and push off from and get up from grapples. UFC 2010 has also included a fantastic sway system that allows fighters to duck and dodge against oncoming attacks in attempt to land a counter blow and finish the fight. This is certainly a risk-reward scenario because dodging is not the same as blocking and if you duck down and end up coming face to face with your opponent’s knee, its lights out for you.

In addition to fantastic character roster, UFC 2010 also offers a pretty extensive ‘create your own fighter mode’. This unfortunately I feel, is not one of the games highlight modes. Once again, this mode really shines for those who understand MMA, because customisation your characters looks is simple, but then combining variations and segments from different martial arts styles to create a personal fighter, can become incredibly complicated and tedious. Thankfully there are template models, but that sort of beats the character customisation doesn’t it? Perhaps I am being very critical as the last game I reviewed, Modnation Racer, was a highlight in user creation tools, but nevertheless, it is still worth the mention. You can create a character that is ready to fight in the big leagues, or really bring a grub to the scene and have him develop and go through career mode to become a champion. Another niggling issue is on the character select screen, there is little to be said about the fighters, making it once again for those who do not follow the sport, pretty difficult to select a character because you do not know what style of fighting they are best at. I watched one guy pick up a fighter known for his extensive groundwork, and during a 3 round fight, not go for a takedown once. You can press triangle or the Y button, which brings up certain stats and most fighters are pretty well rounded, but still a bit of extra information would not have hurt.

A massive improvement over UFC 2009 comes in the career mode. This is not to say however, that it is a great game mode however. Last year saw a frustrating, menu driven career that was painful to sit through. This year you spend a lot more time fighting, which is obviously a great thing, but also a lot of time training, which is boring and feels like a chore. Another absolutely ridiculous addition to the career mode is the attribute enhancement section where you spend skill points as you earn them to become a better fighter. This seems pretty self explanatory, but the game decides to drop skill points in sections of your fighter that you don’t often upgrade. This seems realistic say if you omit training your grappling game, your skill will drop, but this ends up being horrifically tedious and irritating as you are often required to spend at least one point on every single skill to ensure they do not deteriorate, meaning enhancing your strong assets takes forever. It also doesn’t help that you only earn skill points in training and nothing is gained from main event fights, which doesn’t make sense as you learn from every encounter in the ring, making career mode tedious and irritating.

That aside, there is some pretty cool additions in UFC 2010’s career mode, including visiting specialist martial arts camps where your character can learn new moves and fighting styles. You are also forced to get involved with the media, even rest and try to keep your conditioning high while your fatigue levels down. All of this really makes you feel like a proper fighter and although there are annoying issues in career mode, this all kind of gets ignored when you finally step into the ring of the UFC and experience what the game is best at, letting you pummel opponents.

The most impressive content on UFC 2010 is definitely the stuff you can just jump straight into it, be it by yourself, or preferably against a friend. Regardless, Title mode allows you to pit your strength against tough opponent AI to try and win the belt of your chosen weight class, Title defence then lets you defend that hard earned title and Event mode lets you create your own fight card and play through it. A very cool addition to UFC 2010 is the Ultimate Fight mode that allows you to relive some of the highlight moments of massive fights throughout UFC history. You will be required to complete certain challenges to make the fights end how they did in real life and this unlocks cool content including actual videos from those fights. It is at this point, that there is significant difference between the 360 and PS3 versions of the game. In terms of technicality, both games feel and play the same, but the PS3 version includes 5 full-length HD UFC fights and the videos you unlock in Ultimate Fight look stunning as opposed to the compressed versions on the Xbox 360. This is because the PS3 uses Blu-ray discs and can store more data. Also it is worth noting that the PS3 version has certain extra fighters available to fight with.

Sadly, while playing against a friend in the ring is a lot of fun on the same console, online it is frustrating and not enjoyable. This is a massive let down for UFC 2010 as the online modes suffer from lag, no interesting content and almost no incentive to actually get online and play in the first place. Miniscule experience points are offered and a pointless leaderboard hangs scores that are simply not worth the frustration that the online mode forces you to put up with.

This is a classic example of a game that does what it needs to do, very well. Yes in-between fights there are numerous issues surrounding different modes in the game, and this is a problem granted. When you step into the ring however, the game flows well, moves are executed perfectly and there is very little to fault in terms of game-play. UFC 2010 Undisputed is let down by its poor campaign mode and pretty awful online game-play, but inside the Octagon it does nothing but impress, both technically and visually.

Technical presentation – 6.0

Graphics – 8.0

Game-play – 8.0

Replay value – 7.0

Final score – 7 / 10

CeX (UK) Contributor

Igor Kharin

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