UFC Undisputed 3 review
Founded in 1993, Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) has become one of the most recognized sports in today's culture. The intense action began with likes of Rorion Gracie and John Milius mixing several different fighting styles into one heart-throbbing competition. Its popularity has skyrocketed since, reaching all sorts of demographics, including gamers. The UFC Undisputed series has cashed in on the sport's success, and despite 2010's disappointment, UFC Undisputed 3 was anticipated by many to be the next "big thing" in videogames. Insane knockouts and bone-crushing submissions are back, but do they coexist with a fantastic title, or another dud by THQ?
For those unfamiliar with the sport, its vicious style is mixed with a Hollywood type build up; spontaneous intros, threats during weigh-ins, and trainers who like to talk big for their profession. The first thing you notice when firing up UFC Undisputed 3 is its extraordinary ability to capture what you see on TV. The game's cinematics, which include impressive graphics, highlights the look and feel of UFC. From your fighter walking into the arena to his reaction after a win or loss, you'll appreciate just how accurate the game is to the actual sport.
The cinematic approach reveals itself wonderfully, though, in career mode - just one of the several fantastic modes available. Throughout your fighter's rise to the top, documentaries from actual UFC fighters play in coordination with your current situation. For example, after your first loss at the UFC level, a video from one fighter plays where he explains his feelings after the loss, and how to deal with it. In addition, UFC history videos play, revealing some interesting tidbits about the sport. Whether you're a newcomer to UFC or a veteran, you'll definitely find these videos worthwhile and interesting.
Surprisingly, the cinematic appeal compliments itself best with the title's controls and gameplay. THQ has created a successful system with the past UFC titles, but it wasn't as fluent as people wished it could be. UFC Undisputed 3, though, plays incredibly well. The controls tailor to both new players and hardcore fans, and unlike Mortal Kombat, the game actually teaches you how to utilize moves to compete at high levels. The biggest improvement over 2010, in terms of gameplay, is undoubtedly ground game. Transitions to ground fighting is fantastic and smooth, which allows you many more options from bottom or top. Ground fighting also sets up the game's biggest change: submissions.
UFC Undisputed 2010's submission system was awful, and I'm being generous. Thankfully, the system has been scraped and replaced with an outstanding, fair "mini-game" (yes, mini-game). Now, when a player goes for any type of submission, the game brings up an octagon with two sliders, one for you, and one for your opponent. The goal is simple: If you're going for a submission, try and cover up your opponent's slider until your bar fills up. If you're defending yourself from a submission finish, keep your slider from being covered up. The entire overhaul is brilliant and satisfying, even if it's difficult to complete on Xbox Live/PSN.
This year's game satisfies in every way, but there are still some nagging problems. Load times are, lets just say, horrifying. Some last up to 30 seconds, and only lead to more load times. In addition, Xbox Live/PSN matches can take a substantial amount of time to find, even on fast Internet. You'll always find an opponent, but it may take you awhile. Blood reactions to hits can be a little late, which can look a bit silly at times, though it's hardly noticeable in the heat of battle. These are minor problems, but are apparent, and are negative towards the entire experience.
With an impressive line-up of fighters, numerous modes (online and offline), and the introduction of PRIDE fights, UFC Undisputed 3 offers a hefty amount of content. Every detail with this year's game is a step forward for the series, and it's evident that moving it away from yearly releases has helped. Whether or not you're into UFC or fighting games, Undisputed 3 deserves your attention. THQ has crafted an authentic UFC experience which delivers the knockout punch.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]