When I turned on UFC Undisputed 2010 for the first time, I thought I was hooked. I got to pick my fighter's interview responses in career mode, I had a sexy UFC lady wanting to stop by and film my workout, and Joe Rogan was remembering what had happened in my last fight and was talking about it. The game seemed like it had improved on the one thing the last version was missing – the UFC presentation that makes it feel like you're watching the sport you love.
However, over the course of the hours I poured into UFC Undisputed 2010, the seams began to show and the presentation actually began to annoy me a bit. I started hearing my fighter say the same things in interviews, the lady kept e-mailing me every frickin' week, and Joe Rogan's commentary was the same again and again.
Is the game fun? Yes. Is it the knockout fans were hoping for? No.
UFC is of course Ultimate Fighting Championship, the premier mixed martial arts organization in the world. Here, competitors from all sorts of fighting disciplines – wrestling, boxing, jiu jitsu, and so on – come together to test their skills in the Octagon, an eight-sided mat surrounded by chain-link walls. If you want to win in the UFC, you have to be able to knock your opponent out, get him to submit, or win via the judge's scorecard. Outside of the fingerless gloves, there are no pads.
Sounds rad, right? For millions of fans, it is, and living out the action on their favorite videogame console is a no brainer. There's no doubt that when things are clicking, UFC Undisputed 2010 is fun. For me, being evenly matched in a fight, covered in blood, and pulling off that one sick punch to lay out an opponent – there are few things better in the game. You get the victory celebration in the ring, the ref raises you hand, and you get to see your victory again and again in instant replay form. It's awesome.
Still, getting to that fun isn't going to be super-easy for everyone. For better or worse, UFC Undisputed 2010 keeps the same complicated control scheme from last year. If you're a seasoned vet, you'll just need to get the new sways, moves, and ability to press folks up against the cage before you're right at home in the Octagon. If you're not pro, you're in for a long haul. The face buttons punch and kick, there are height modifiers to get down, reversal systems for both the ground and the standup game, and so much more.
It took me hours to feel comfortable in UFC Undisputed 2010. This isn't a huge knock as the sport is extremely complicated, but it is an issue worth noting. There is a tutorial in the game, but it's so cumbersome and unintuitive that I really didn't learn what I needed to know in any kind of context. The game tells you the left stick moves you, shows a video of a guy moving, and then has you move. However, it never shows you what each ground position is, when to use it, or how to intelligently get out of it. This lack of direction is one of the game's biggest failings.
Career mode is a good idea. You create a fighter, choose where he's from, and set out on a 12-year career that's filled with sponsors, interviews and championships. Unlike last year, your fighter isn't stuck with a preset archetype, so you can go to fight camps if you like and learn whatever move you feel suits your contender. This is great. When I was creating my fighter – a hardened boxer who was always looking for a knockout – I was thrilled to be able to pop into gyms around the country and learn the most devastating punches.
Each week leading up to a fight, you can perform one action such as going to a fight camp, training, and so on. These actions play into your stats as well as conditioning and fatigue with the idea to have a high conditioning level and a low fatigue level when it's fight night. However, if you decide to spar, you'll earn attribute points that you can assign to your various strikes, grappling techniques, and defense. This is really where you assemble your character – where you pour on the points and make your kicks devastating or what have you. Trouble is, there's no solid tutorial to walk you through this. You're tossed into a career mode that's menu heavy and asked to sort it all out on your own.
The career mode is fun – I loved hearing Rogan talk about my last match, I enjoyed assembling my fighter once I figured out how the stats worked, and knocking people out never gets old – but its spreadsheet layout and repetition knock some of the coolness out of it. Would I recommend playing it if you dig UFC? Of course. Having a coach, going to weigh-ins, and starting rivalries is great, but even something as cool as being awarded the honor of Knockout of the Year is deflated when you have to dig through menus to find out which of your matches won you the honor and that the game has no recorded video of the feat.
PS3 vs. Xbox 360
Although UFC Undisputed 2010 is nearly identical on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, there are a couple of differences. If you pick up the PS3 version of the game, you're going to get three exclusive fighters (Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Jens Pulver), five additional fights in the Ultimate Fights Mode, and a handful of real UFC matches to watch on the Blu-ray. Although the 360 doesn't have that content, the game is sharper than its PS3 counterpart.
The career's fun, but you have to do the work to make it that way.
Outside of the career, you have a number of options, but most are just variations of exhibition matches – that's not bad, but it's not necessarily exciting. You can have 16-player tournaments, go through a gauntlet of fighters in a Title Mode, and jump into classic fights packing specific objectives in Ultimate Fights Mode. Tournaments are fine, Title Mode is just a bunch of matches, and I preferred to just go at it in Ultimate Fights and not really worry about the in-game objectives like using a specific move in a specific place. Each of these modes has its place, but none is all that different from the last.
Online is mostly the same as last year – a bit laggy at times, go out and fight for an awesome leaderboard spot, earn medals, etc. – but UFC Undisputed 2010 does include Fight Camps. These are basically clans for you and your buddies to get into so that you're fighting under a unified camp flag online. The mode sounds cool, but it's a bit shallow. You name the club and pick a logo, but then you're kind of done. You could modify the message of the day or chat with your members, but there's not really a draw to pop into the mode. You can train with your club members, but this is either another hazy challenge where the game just lists moves at the bottom of the screen and isn't that fun or a chance to try moves without worrying about getting knocked out.
Perhaps the biggest change to UFC's online mode is that this year you'll need to have a code
to access the features. Each new copy of the game comes with a code to unlock the online features, but if you were to borrow the game or rent it and the code had been redeemed, you'd need to purchase the privilege to play online from either the PlayStation Store or Xbox Live Marketplace.
©2010-05-25, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved