UFC 09: UndisputedESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer – Yuke’s
Publisher - THQ
Players: 1-2 (2 player online)
9MB to Save Game
Online Multiplayer: 2-18
In-Game Dolby Digital
Just last month I had the chance to head to Montreal to check out THQ’s much anticipated UFC 2009: Undisputed. Not only did I get the chance to check out the game but I also had a chance to chat with Dana White (President of the UFC), George St. Pierre (UFC Welterweight Champion), and Neven Dravinski (Lead Producer for UFC 2009 Undisputed). To top off the weekend, THQ invited us to check out UFC 97 at the Bell Center where my beloved Montreal Canadians call home. The weekend was fantastic and the game left me with some positive impressions. Fast forward to the present and UFC 09: Undisputed has finally arrived and UFC fans who have long awaited a quality MMA game have been granted their wish. After some extended playtime with the game one thing is for certain, UFC fans will enjoy Undisputed. That is fine and dandy but how about the casual gamer, or any other gamer for that matter of fact, who may just be looking to play a decent fighting game? Will UFC 2009: Undisputed capture those casual fight fans like Fight Night Round 3 did a few years ago? Only time will tell but I certainly have good feeling about this one.
UFC 2009: Undisputed is a good looking and wonderfully presented game. For starters, the fighters look very similar to their real-life counterparts. All their mannerisms, signature moves and fighting styles are accurately reflected in the game. The way the fighters move when they strike, kick and grapple is very well done. I was amazed that I never saw any clipping issues arise, which is something I felt would be inevitable considering the close proximities of the fighters when they are engaged in battle. That being said, I did however notice quite a few phantom punches and kicks. What I mean by this is often fighters would not connect with a kick or punch, yet the opponent would react as if he had been struck with a blow. This becomes quite noticeable during the some of the replays. Not a major issue but it can be very annoying when you are on the receiving end of one of these phantom kicks or punches.
Something that I have to mention was that I was amazed with the way the fighters perspired as the fight wore-on. It was definitely slick. As they moved around the Octagon sweat beads would reflect from the lighting around the ring giving you a true to life experience. Not to mention, the cuts and bruises also become increasingly more noticeable as the fight wears on. Some of the cuts across the fighters face look gruesome and actually left me cringing on more than a few occasions. Even the way the blood dripped from the fighters faces and onto the mat was very cool.
I was also impressed with how much detail was put into the games environments, the look of the octagon, and the overall presentation of the game. The octagon is an exact replica of a real life UFC ring. From the advertisements on the mat to the cage like surroundings itself, the look of the octagon is impressive. The fans are equally impressive as well as are the various venues from Mandalay Bay to MSG. All of the settings for each fight are nicely presented. That being said, I would have liked to have seen a few more, but hey, there is always the sequel.
I should also mention the menus are also easy to navigate and the overall presentation of the game is everything you have come to expect from the UFC. That is with the exception of having the fighters walk down the aisle to their favourite tunes. I have to admit I was looking forward to this aspect of the UFC experience but unfortunately it was not included in the game. Last but not least, Undisputed does have some of the nicest looking ring-girls we have seen in a next-generation fighting game to date.
As with the graphics the sound in the game is also very good. Some of the music is very similar to some of the tunes in EA Sports Fight Night Round 3 but this is not bad thing as I loved the soundtrack in FNR3. Undisputed is no exception as the game’s soundtrack is very good, very authentic and left me humming the tunes even hours after playing the game. The music is primarily hardcore metal which totally immerses you into the game and they are true to the UFC brand.
Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg set the stage for the commentary and they are perfect for the game’s atmosphere. It really feels like a pay-per-view UFC event with these two at the helm. Rarely are they repetitive and they sound fantastic. Producer Neven Dravinski at the UFC event in Montreal even mentioned some of the famous calls from previous UFC events were cut and inserted into the game giving players an even more realistic and authentic feel to the game.
The in-game punching and kicking sounds are also sound pretty good but I have to admit nothing we haven't heard before. That being said, when watching a real life UFC fight the punching and kicking sounds are rarely heard with all the noise from the fans in the background and commentating from Joe and Mike. As a result, one cannot really punish the game for lacklustre punching and kicking sounds.
The biggest question many had, including me, was how does Undisputed play? Being an MMA game with all the complexities that come along with the fighting styles of the sport, my first thought was this was going to be a complex game with complex controls. Fortunately, you can all breathe a sigh of relief as Undisputed is a fun game and is not too hard for anyone to pick-up and play. That being said, if you want to progress in the game, and actually become a champion in your weight division, you will have to spend some time learning the various fighting controls.
As I just mentioned I was a little concerned that the controls would be much too complicated. Much to my surprise the basics are easy to pick up if you are looking to quickly jump into a game to start punching and kicking, but being a proficient striker will only take you so far. As a result it is essential for those picking up the game to invest some time in learning the nuances of the game’s controls, such as learning how to grapple and defend against submissions, etc. Fortunately the game features a comprehensive tutorial unlike I have seen before. The tutorial mode gives you a step-by-step guide of how to pull off the various grappling moves, takedowns, ground strikes, etc. It is a good little tutorial but also something I wish the developers included in the game’s training modes. Do not get me wrong, the tutorial mode is great, but it is not long before you start fighting and you start to forget some of the games controls. For instance, on one occasion a fighter attempted a submission move. As I frantically button mashed, I was clueless how to defend myself as I just plain forgot how to defend. In no time flat, the fight was over.
Nevertheless Undisputed is a game that any casual gamer can pick up and play, but I cannot stress the importance of investing the time to learn all the various moves in order to progress through the single player career mode. The controls still come across as intimidating given the complex nature of the sport which features many fighting styles including boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Kickboxing, Muay Thai and wrestling. Yet at the end of the day I was surprised I was able to go in, play a game, and actually win my first fight.
The basic and advanced controls are obviously a huge aspect to Undisputed. The control scheme not only utilizes the face buttons for basic kicking and punching but also uses the thumb sticks for the ground game. Going toe-to-toe with another fighter is not an overwhelming task as merely hammering away at the punching and kicking buttons may land you some success. However, for those who want to become more competitive, and ultimately do well in the career mode, you will have to spend some time to learn the ground game controls. For instance, rotating the right analog stick while on top of a fighter allows you to gain better position as you try for a submission move. The way the game utilizes both button pressing and stick controls gives Undisputed a more realistic feel to the game and captures some of the complexities we see in MMA fighting.
I spent the majority of my time in the career mode which is truly a delight. You start off by creating a fighter with all the customizable options you could ever want. From tattoos to scars on your face, the game does a nice job of giving you plenty of customizable options. After you create your fighter it is not too long before you jump into your first fight. Each fight awards you credibility points which unlocks better sponsors and gives your fighter access to some of the best trainers in the world. In between fights you will spend your time in the calendar menu area. Here you check your e-mail, train for upcoming fights, check out your sponsors, spar and essentially do everything your typical UFC fighter would do. Sparing and training leads to increased skills, stamina, strength and speed. This aspect of the game is well done and it gives the career mode plenty of replay value. After every fight I would identify several areas which needed improvement and I would work towards upgrading those skills in between fights. Bottomline, the training aspects of the game do not interfere with the overall enjoyment of the whole experience. There are no cheesy mini-games or any other in-between fight annoyances as most of your time is spent fighting inside the octagon.
All in all, the career mode is fabulous and realistic as well. Most UFC fighters do not go through their career undefeated and neither will you. Granted, I got on a roll at times winning 5-fights in a row on two separate occasions; however many will find the career mode challenging. Hence the importance of training and ranking up your skills. The only downside with the career mode is the fact that you cannot chose your favourite UFC fighter and proceed through the career mode with him. I would have loved to have been able to go through the career mode as GSP. Unfortunately, you cannot do so in Undisputed. On the flip side, there is nothing stopping you from creating a close replica of your favourite fighter.
In addition to the career mode, Undisputed features several other modes. For starters, the game features an online mode which allows two players to go head to head in an exhibition match using any of the 80+ fighters featured in the game. The online mode of the game was an area I admittedly did not spend too much time in; however the time I did spend was enjoyable even if I got my ass kicked. In addition to the online play there are also your typical exhibition type match-ups seen in nearly every sports game to date. There is also a classic match mode where you can relive some of the all time best fights in UFC history. The following is a list of some of the great classic fights you can play in the game:
Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale: Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar
Ultimate Fight Night 6: Diego Sanchez vs. Karo Parisyan
UFC 66: Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz
UFC 71: Chuck Liddell vs. Rampage Jackson
UFC 76: Forrest Griffin vs. Shogun Rua
UFC 77: Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin
UFC 79: Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva
UFC 79: Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes
UFC 80: B.J. Penn vs. Joe Stevenson
UFC 82: Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson
UFC 83: Matt Serra vs. Georges St. Pierre
UFC 84: B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk
As you can see, it is a great list and the game does a wonderful job with the build-up to these fights. Interviews and highlights from the real life fights are all part of the package. Adding a unique twist and challenge to the fights is the goal of trying to replicate the fight as it actually played out. If you are successful in replicating the fight you get an unlockable montage of the fight itself. Overall, the classic fight mode is cool and something that will have me coming back for months on end.
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