UFC Undisputed 2010ESRB:
Category: MMA Fighting
Developer: Yukes Media Creations
Partial Install to Memory Stick
Having had the chance to review the Xbox 360 and PS3 version of UFC Undisputed 2010, I was somewhat intrigued when the PSP version arrived on my office desk. The thought of such a deep and robust game being ported over to Sony’s handheld console was an interesting thought indeed, given the limitations of the hardware. Well, after spending some time with the final retail version I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how the game turned out.
Visually speaking, given the horsepower of the machine that Undisputed has been ported to, the game doesn’t look that bad. Menus, player information, and all the data you are exposed to, prior to and after a fight, has that UFC feel to it, just don’t expect the same level of effort that was in the home consoles. You won’t find pre-fight and post-fight interviews or the deep “Tale of the Tape” moments. There just isn’t enough room on the UMD, and not enough power in the PSP, to allow for such presentation features. That being said, when it comes to the fighters, you will be able to recognize many of the big ones. Given the number of fighters that are included in this game, the ability to get the majority of them to have any resemblance of their real-life counterparts is amazing as there are so many to render.
The fighting action itself is well represented with non-stop action in the ring. The Octagon looks pretty darn good on the PSP’s TFT LCD screen and you’ll find shadows on the ground from the bright lights, slightly animated crowds, advertising and sponsor logos where they should be (e.g. in the ring and on fighters shorts, shirts, etc), fighters moving pretty smoothly, and wounds showing up on fighters bodies (e.g. cuts, closed eyes) from continued pummeling. The main thing everyone will notice is that given that the PSP graphics capabilities is the equivalent of the PS2 there are quite a few less polygons than the bigger home console versions resulting in a lower-res experience.
Technically speaking, Undisputed does suffer now and then. You’ll find some very prevalent clipping and even some screen tearing during the fights. Punches can mysteriously pass through fighters or you’ll find a part of ring warping or tearing depending on the camera angle. The latter I found not as often as the clipping. The game moves pretty smoothly with only a hint, and I say hint very lightly, of any slowdown noted. If one keeps their expectations realistic and takes into account the game is on a much weaker console than the previous versions, most won’t be too disappointed with what they see.
The sound in Undisputed is one area where Yukes cut out a lot of what made the bigger console versions so good. The biggest omission is the in-game commentary from Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, two of the most recognized voices of the UFC. I noticed that the absence of these two colourful and very energetic commentators made a difference as the fights just seemed a little flatter and not as exciting. Add to this that the crowds are not nearly as interactive (e.g. cheering/jeering at the right time). Another thing that seemed to be missing was the impact the sound could carry when punching, striking, or getting that right counter for a knockout or submission. The sound effects just didn’t make this aspect of the game that immersive as they lacked the oomph of the bigger consoles. As with any handheld game, using headphones does make the sound a little better, but it is evident that Undisputed on the PSP seemed to cut out a lot of the audio excellence of the home console versions.
My biggest concern with THQ coming out with a portable version of Undisputed 2010 was that there was no way that it could mirror the bigger console versions, given that the game was now going to be released on a console with less control options (e.g. only one analog nub), less power, and on the UMD storage medium (smaller capacity). I actually thought that the control would be lacking, that the features would be stripped away, and that the result would get a watered down version of the original game. Well boy, was I wrong with these assumptions. If you are looking for an arcade like fighter you might as well just stop reading this review and look elsewhere.
As I sat down to give Undisputed a whirl, I was very surprised to see, and feel, how well the game controlled. Given that the PSP lacks a dual analog set-up, I thought that there would be sacrifices made here. Well low and behold, even though the control has had to be adapted to take into consideration the PSP’s single analog nub, you’ll be striking, kicking, blocking, and taking down your opponent in no time. The biggest difference many will find is that you now use the d-pad to move around the Octagon and it is the analog and shoulder buttons in conjunction with the face buttons that control many of your moves. I found it a bit awkward at first moving my thumb off the d-pad to the analog nub to pull off some of my fighting moves, but after a bit of adjustment time I came to grips with this new control scheme and found that I did not mind it at all and I don’t think many of you will mind either. Overall it just works. Yukes and THQ should be commended for being able to adjust to the control scheme of the PSP.
Undisputed for the PSP has to be one of the most feature set games that I have ever seen in this handheld category (portable fighting games). Yukes and THQ have included 100 or so UFC fighters, which is pretty much equal to the bigger console versions. The majority of gameplay modes on the home console versions have also been squeezed onto the UMD with success. As I started to write this section of this review, I pondered how to do it, given that I did a detailed analysis of the modes on the home console versions. I am definitely not going to repeat myself, given that I have gone over all of this before and you can find the previous full console review(s) here (http://www.game-boyz.com/content/node/12960) to get a full sense of what you can expect.
In terms of the gameplay modes, there is a lot to keep you busy . You will find a deep and fulfilling Career mode with a surprisingly robust Create-a-Fighter (CAF) system for you to make your own fighter. There is a Tournament mode, Title mode, Title Defence mode, and a Ultiimate Fight mode, where you relive and replay up to 15 storied UFC fights broken down into four groups (Matches, Classics, Submission, Knockouts).
The majority of your time in Undisputed for the PSP will be spent in the Career and CAF modes. Why? Well given how deep and rich these modes are, they end up being very satisfying given the involvement you will have with them. Personally, I was surprised with how deep the handheld version of these modes were and I found myself awestruck that what you could do previously on a much more powerful home console was being perfectly implemented on a handheld. Being given a chance to take my created player from the ranks of amateur fighter to the championship realm was pretty much as satisfying as playing at home. And as with the home console versions, don’t expect to wear your virtual championship belt in a short time as you will have to invest some time, and effort, to reach the top.
The biggest complaint that I have in the area of gameplay is the load times. God they are long. It really does take away from the seamless experience of the home consoles, given that you’ll be staring blankly as the game loads from option screens to actual gameplay quite often than not. There is an option to partially install the game onto your memory stick, but even this cannot take away from the lengthy load times. Having to wait just takes some of the fun away. That being said, it is really more of an annoyance rather then a deal breaker, and with patience you’ll learn to deal with it.
Finally, there is no online multiplayer, so you will only be able to play this game via adhoc with other PSP owners if you are looking for some human competition. I guess there wasn’t enough room on the UMD for this option, and I don’t think it would have been that popular of a feature either.
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