UFC undisputed 3 review
|REVIEWS - VIDEOGAME REVIEWS|
Smell my foot! It smells ... of victory!!
UFC Undisputed 3 is the first game in the THQ mixed martial arts series to be released since moving away from a yearly release cycle. Does this mean that UFC Undisputed 3 returns fresh from its time away from the Octagon, ready to go toe to toe with more mainstream fighters? Or is it an also-ran, destined never to get to the top of the pile?
THQ have pushed UFC Undisputed 3 in a direction that they believe means traditional beat ‘em up enthusiasts will make the switch to the somewhat complex world of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. While those unfamiliar with the sport may just see it as two well muscled men attempting to beat each other to a pulp inside a cage, a wide range of fighting, martial arts and wrestling styles means UFC is more sophisticated than it seems. Of course, you CAN win a fight by beating on your opponent until they can’t stand up anymore, but there’s also victories through submissions, and if a fight goes the full number of rounds, it comes down to a judge’s decision. The variety of combat styles and means of victory means you’ll have to think your way through fights which can quickly become overwhelming for beginners.
It’s because of the steep learning curve of previous titles in the series that THQ have introduced an optional ‘Amateur’ control system that makes performing grapple moves theoretically simpler than that of the more advanced ‘Professional’ version. The result is that while Amateur controls make fights against A.I. a little easier to deal with, if you’re up against a human opponent using the Professional controls, you’re going to be at a disadvantage. And while the additional control system does make it somewhat easier for beginners to play UFC Undisputed 3, there’s definitely still a difficulty spike when it comes to playing the grappling game. Too often the casual player will find themselves frantically trying to push the sticks in any direction in order to escape a hold, and sometimes, despite all the stick twiddling, defence or movement never comes and it’s a fight to mark up on the ‘lost’ tally. While UFC fans or fans of the series will be right at home, the controls still aren’t friendly to newcomers, even if they’re fighting game veterans.
At least there’s an in depth tutorial amongst UFC Undisputed 3’s plethora different modes, with exhibition, various single player and Online modes, but it’s arguably Career Mode that’s the bread and butter of the title. Here you take a fighter from the huge 150 strong roster, or your own created competitor, taking them from being an unknown rookie to, potentially, a multiple time champion and Hall of Famer. Of course, by starting at rock bottom, it’s your responsibility to train your fighter, organise and win fights to get them up to championship level material; because as good as you may be at UFC Undisputed 3, it’s unlikely a fighter with skill statistics of 60 is going to have enough to go toe-to-toe in the Octagon against a champion with almost perfect stats.
You’re therefore presented with a variety of ways in which to improve your fighter, most predominantly through Training Sessions and Game Plans. The training sessions consist of two-minute long mini-games in which you need to perform certain goals; the better you perform the more benefits the training session has to your stats. Unfortunately, the confusing control system rears its head in training, meaning that as within fights, it’s possible to flounder around flicking sticks in the hope that something will happen. The training sessions, while varied amongst themselves, do also get quite repetitive and boring, despite the incentives to get to the top of the leader board. Game plans are a riskier, but rewarding way to boost stats in which the player chooses a certain plan for a fight, and if they stick to it, they’ll be rewarded with permanent stat boosts. However, less-experienced players will quickly find these plans go out the window as their opponent seems to go out of their way to put a spanner in works.
The introduction of PRIDE, a now defunct Japanese MMA organisation into the mix of Career Mode and other matches does add some variety to UFC Undisputed 3, where the different roster of fighters battle it out in combat featuring a different set of rules. While the basic gameplay remains the same as the rest of UFC Undisputed 3, it adds a feeling of freshness to the title.
THQ have put in a lot of effort when it comes to UFC Undisputed 3’s presentation, with the full roster of fighters looking fantastic thanks to a modelling system that begins with taking their photos from every angle. Of course, these realistic looking models take a beating during fights, with flesh convincingly reacting be you punched in the face, the body or anywhere else. The cuts, bruises, black eyes and blood tend to follow generic patterns, but for the most part, the presentation is flawless.
It’s very much helped along by the fact that each fight feels like it’s an actual TV broadcast, with fighter entrances, announcements by Bruce Buffer and some excellent commentary. Repetition from the commentators is a rare thing, and not only do they accurately call the fights and offer analysis of replays between rounds, but they also discuss tips and strategy that could help you turn a fight around. THQ’s WWE games could learn a lot from the commentary of UFC Undisputed 3.
UFC Undisputed 3 presented very well indeed but the complicated nature of the controls is likely to put many newcomers off. Combine that with a Career Mode that can feel a bit stilted thanks to repetitive training mini-games, and you get the feeling this exhibition of MMA doesn’t live up to its true potential. While fans of the sport will undoubtedly enjoy UFC Undisputed 3, it’s not likely to keep many others attention long enough to draw fight fans away from other titles in the long term.
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