During the demo appointments leading up to Undisputed’s release, we knew we were seeing something good. The tactical, yet undeniably brutal sport (if it’s recognized by many state athletic commissions then yes, it is a sport) is rendered the best it’s ever been in digital form. From the striking to the grapple contests, Exhibition to Career mode, UFC 2009 Undisputed is a great game for sports and fighting fans alike.
What we mean is that the controls are simple AND complex enough to feel like an arcade AND sports sim. Fans of Fight Night Round 3 should love the lack of HUD, the realistic bruising, the bloody cuts, the way the mouthpiece flies after a fierce superman punch, the incredibly detailed fighters and the spot-on controls. And while Undisputed lacks cheesy sparks that emit after a punch and stupid anime intros, there is certainly enough in the way of straight brawling and complex grappling to satisfy even the combo-obsessed fighter enthusiast.
Above: How non-fans see UFC (sans Wolverine, of course)
Above: How actual fans see UFC
We’ve gone in-depth on how the controls work on our last preview, but let’s give you a quick refresher. On the 360, the left trigger and bumper modify head and body strikes, while the right trigger and bumper block for the head and body respectively. Face buttons correspond to each limb (X for a left punch, B for a right kick), with the modifiers indicating how you throw the strikes. Body shots and quick strikes wear down the opponent by injuring him or lessening his stamina and power. High attacks can knock him the f*ck out.
Add to that the grapple controls, initiated with flicking the right stick. Grappling or clinch holds are triggered with a tap towards the opponent. Flicking up or down counters your opponent’s clinch and flicking away at the right time will block your opponent as he shoots towards you. Used in combination with the modifier buttons and you can either attempt a takedown or clinch (which looks like hugging), but really means you have a grasp on your opponent and try to wear him down with knees and elbows. Of course, your goal is to get the other guy on the mat, get in and control him through a series of transitions and hopefully make him submit.
Above: Do you understand the controls yet?
We haven’t even begun to discuss the minor and major transition controls (requiring quarter-circle right stick gestures) to gain control over your opponent, but that serves to highlight how overwhelming the controls can feel. Like our preview appointments, it was difficult to wrap our head around blocks, reversals, transitions, clinching, when to strike the body, when to block our face from getting rocked and more. Quite simply, there is a shit-ton to keep track of. But no matter, these worries fall away the more you play. And soundly beating the crap out of another guy will be a walk in the park.
We recommend the following to get used to UFC: please for the love of god, go through the tutorial mode when you start the game. Tutorial will go through all various controls, moves and situations. Next, play some exhibition matches, get your ass kicked, go through Practice mode and wail on some dummy, before doing a couple more exhibition matches. You’ll feel your skills improving and gain more confidence. Maybe you’re knocking guys out quicker? Maybe your mat game looks less like a homoerotic dance of sweaty tickles and more like an intense chess game of reversals. Once you get your game up, then you’re ready for the big time, kid.