UFC Undisputed 2010 review
The rise of mixed-martial arts is a fantastic trend to watch in today’s sports landscape. The popularity is among the highest charting sports as it has grown from its cult underground roots to a global phenomenon as the UFC travels across the seas to foreign lands bringing MMA to new countries every year.
THQ made an intelligent decision to pursue the sport within the video game medium and delivered an outstanding title in the form of UFC 2009 Undisputed. Now, returning to the sport with a follow-up, THQ has changed up the naming configuration (UFC Undisputed 2010) and delivered a fabulous sequel in what is turning out to be a beautiful franchise for the California-based publisher.
This year, the vast refinements and new game modes assist in creating a title that offers gigantic proportions of replay value. What has been overhauled? First, and foremost, the clinch game has been tinkered with and may end up being the poison that many gamers choose as their strategy to overcome their opponents. Similar to the ground game, the clinch game is much more about transitioning and less about finding a way into the Muay Thai clinch. In addition, players are now able to push opponents around and attempt to use the cage to their advantage.
As for the aforementioned cage, the introduction of cage work to UFC 2010 is a stupendous addition that makes the title closer to representing the sport. From the new rocked (knocking an opponent into a grey-hazed state) stage against the cage to double leg takedowns for an impactful slam, the cage now acts as it should: The third man in the 1v1 battle.
Adding more layers to the authenticity of UFC 2010, THQ has incorporated a plethora of new moves, animations, fighters, and much more to keep players amazed at the realism. The crucifix position – available to Matt Hughes, Cain Velasquez and a few other fighters – is an astounding addition that helps bring UFC 2010 full circle to representing the sport. If players have ever seen Brandon Vera’s or Anderson Silva’s victory dance, they’ll notice how lifelike the animations are.
For gamers who are into the ground game and love to submit their opponents, they’ll be infatuated with the ability to switch between submissions such as kimura to armbar. Plus, the button-smashing from last year has been replaced with clicking in the right stick to use the strength of a fighter to submit the opponent. It’s these little things that takes UFC 2010 and pushes it over the edge as one of the year’s best titles.
Where UFC 2010 disappoints is lack of realism for CPU AI. Having watched more than 60 matches through UFC’s new Event Mode, I can honestly say that I never imagined Lyoto Machida going for numerous takedowns on Mark Coleman or Shane Carwin rocking Brock Lesnar three times and not following up the attack with the kill. Matter of fact, the AI tends to make the craziest decisions when it’s paired against another AI. After watching the 60 matches previously mentioned, only seven submissions were ever attempted – none of which were match-ending – and a good percentage of them ended via KO after the opponent swayed and hit a counter punch. Of those 10 events I put together, not a single one had a Submission of the Night award to hand out. Disappointing, yes, but nothing that deterred from the excitement that was taking place.
Another factor that worked better in theory than in execution was the new swaying mechanic. Ducking in and out of incoming attacks works from time to time; and when it does, it’s usually brings forth an instant KO on the opponent who never saw it coming. It’s not game-breaking as the swaying is easy to understand and take full control of, but too many of the matches end via a sway + counter combination that it does detract away from the entertainment value when playing on an endurance run.
Besides that the gameplay additions, the career mode was revamped to the point that last year’s looks like it was created during the Stone Age. Sure, the presentation values haven’t changed too much, but the intricacies that supersede last year’s downfalls are wonderful. No longer do players select two styles and stick to their strengths – they are now able to select maneuvers à la carte and create the fighter they have always wanted. No longer do players automatically get a free pass to the UFC; instead, they’ll fight through amateur fights (optional) and through the World Fighting Alliance (required) to gain an invite to fight in the big leagues of the UFC. No longer do players have to earn invites to camps due to the fact that players can pick and choose which camps they want to train at to learn new maneuvers for their fighter. In short, no longer is the career mode a one-off mode that players avoid outside of creating a new fighter to take online (players are able create fighters outside of Career Mode with full effect).
There are also new modes such as Tournament mode (4, 8 or 16-man brackets), Title Mode (take an authentic fighter up a ladder of fights to earn the championship belt), and Title Defense Mode (run through the gauntlet of 12 fights to defend your title and earn points to use on unlockables). Heck, THQ even decided to give a face-lift to Classic Fights Mode and decided to rename it Ultimate Fights Mode, which may possibly be the mode with the most replay value. Recreating the best fights, submissions knockouts or rewriting history, the Ultimate Fights Mode was the most inviting game mode right off the bat as it provides actual footage of the fights that took place. Outside of that fact, collecting points and unlocking taunts, clothing, UFC Topps trading cards, fighter nicknames and the like is a marvelous feature to keep players coming back for more UFC greatness.
Sadly, the most important feature – online multiplayer and fight camps – of UFC 2010 wasn’t available to the press before release, so we weren’t able to test out how THQ has improved this area of the franchise.
All in all, UFC Undisputed 2010 is a force to be reckoned with. THQ has put every other fighting game on notice as UFC Undisputed 2010 has moved into the domain of one of the best games in the genre.