reviews\ May 9, 2004 at 8:00 pm

UFC: Sudden Impact - PS2 - Review

The world is filled with a number of fighting championships.  From mortal kombating to iron fist tournaments, the late 80s and early 90s were all about stellar fighting games.  Sure, there were other titles released at the time, but for multiplayer action, fighting games were the superior option.  (Back then, online first-person shooters didn't exist, and consoles couldn't produce split-screen gameplay for four players.)

Fighting games aren't what they used to be, but Namco and Midway are still able to produce games that sell two million (Deadly Alliance) and five million (Soul Calibur 2) worldwide.  Name alone couldn't sell these games – Tekken 4 proved that.  It was the quality that DA and SC2 brought to gamers that made their appeal impossible to resist.

There is, however, one thing that both of those games lack: realism.  They've got realistic graphics (to a point), but the gravity-defying moves are not possible in the real world.  The projectiles aren't either, but that's a whole other story.  To me, the less realistic aspects are a turn-on, not a turn-off, but some gamers don't like that over-the-top stuff.  They'd rather have a fighting game that's as true to the sport as Madden is to football.

The only game available to fulfill such a desire is Ultimate Fighting Championship: Sudden Impact.  This game is for the fighting purist, or for the UFC fan that just can't get enough.  You can't go into this game and expect to jump ten feet off the ground, kick your opponent in the head, and watch him jump back several feet.  That's the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat kind of thing you won't find here.  Uppercuts are present, but the impact is much less outrageous.  That's true of all the moves in the game, both in form and in execution.

Sudden Impact includes 36 real UFC fighters.  Disappointingly, that lineup sounds a little more impressive than it actually is.  You'll enjoy being able to use your favorite UFC contender, but if you're like me you won't be too happy about the lack of attack variety.

Every fighter is equipped with a similar collection of combos and attacks.  Most of them are performed by pressing one or two buttons.  For the new guy, the person that's never played a fighting game before, this isn't going to be a major issue.  I don't think it'll be an issue for wrestling fans either, since the game is slower and controls more like a wrestling game than a typical fighter.

But if you know fighting games, even just a little, you're going to go into this game and wonder why there isn't more attack depth and variety.

That doesn't mean the game isn't fun.  I liked how the game incorporated the various grab moves, and how you could pin an opponent to the ground and beat him till his meter drained.  It's cool being able to reverse the moves and defeat an opponent that's pinned you to the ground, or forced you into another tricky situation.  Some gamers will use these opportunities to button-mash -- and I've heard many gamers say that a game isn't fun if you can button-mash your way through it.  But to be honest I haven't played a fighting game I couldn't button-mash my way through in more than 10 years.  It's the nature of the genre.  Whenever you have combos you create a risk for cheap gameplay tactics.

For fans dedicated to their favorite athletes, there's a [fictitious?] story mode.  And for those of you wanting more than 36 real-world fighters, there's a mode that'll let you create your own butt-kicking fighter.  Train him for three years and work your way to becoming the Ultimate Fighting Champion.  Obviously the years are not in real-time, so you won't really be training for 36 months.

Sudden Impact's graphics are much more impressive than the average $20 game.  Face detail isn't perfect but it's certainly impressive.  Animations are fluid and appear to be pretty realistic.  The backgrounds are plain, but that's an aspect of the sport that can't be changed without moving the fighters to a location that the UFC does not use (like a bridge with a spike pit below – only MK can do that!).

UFC: Sudden Impact will have a long-lasting impact on UFC fans.  Will Soul Calibur junkies love it?  If my review didn't already make that point clear, the answer is no.  When Opus Studio began developing Sudden Impact, I doubt they thought of Soul Calibur or its fans.  Sudden Impact is a different kind of game for a different audience.  It has more in common with wrestling games than fighters.  That's likely due to the real-life fighters, many of which have a background in wrestling, or at the very least choose to use grab moves in combat.  At $19.99, this game is the price of a DVD.  UFC fans shouldn't miss it. 

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7
Two-button combos and a lot of grappling moves make up the majority of the game.

Graphics: 7.9
It's all about the faces.  I honestly couldn't tell you if the bodies are in correct proportion, but when you can recognize faces, you know the developers did things right.

Sound: 6

Difficulty: Easy/Medium
Two-button combos?  Come 'on guys, this isn't Virtua Fighter 1...

Concept: 7
Closer to the real thing, with a few liberties taken here and there to keep the game from losing its entertainment value.

Multiplayer: 7
For up to two-players, offline only.  The value of the multiplayer depends on how much you value and your friends value the single-player gameplay.  If you love playing it, and your friends love playing it, you’ll have hours of fun playing it together.

Overall: 7
Are ready?  Okay – let's get it on!  (Moving to the left, I show signs of evasiveness.  I want my opponent to think I'm on the move.)  He takes the bait and lunges forward.  His attack is caught in my grab, and before you know, I'm taking him down.  Tapout, I'm the winner, yeah!!

UFC: Sudden Impact won't throw you into the ring to battle against the world's greatest fighters, but it is the closest you can get without actually being there.  It's a simpler fighting game, but I think that the UFC followers will really get into it.  The cheap price doesn't hurt either.


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