UFC Undisputed 3 Review
The UFC has taught us that a knockout punch can come out of the blue at any given moment, so – let’s get straight to the heart of the matter in case one suddenly turns up [shifts eyes across room nervously]… We here at GM love the UFC Undisputed series. THQ‘s tactical brawler perfectly recreates not only the ebb and flow of mixed martial arts fights, but also their fragility.
A single mistake or a lucky blow can end a match in an instant and UFC‘s sophisticated game engine does an excellent job of recreating this thrill without ever leaving the player feeling hard done by. From a standing position it’s a classic game of catch-as-catch-can boxing, with each move having to be carefully risk assessed before you pull the trigger on it. You can be pummelling your opponent seven shades of blue, but just one clumsy haymaker can leave you wide open for a retaliatory kick to the head – game over. To this end, matches are on a constant knife edge and never stick feel processional. It’s an utterly absorbing mental challenge.
Striking feels more convincing than it did in UFC 2010 and the difference between light and heavy blows is more pronounced, with hefty collisions greeted with a Fight Night-esque slow motion effect. Swaying also felt more fluid, but that might have been us getting better with age (probably not). On the ground, things aren’t so clear cut. The idea is that you move the right analogue stick around to jockey for position, before choosing your moment to go for a submission. UFC Undisputed‘s mat game has always been the weakest part of its arsenal and to that end Yuke’s have made a couple of changes in an attempt to get themselves off their back.
Firstly, there’s an optional amateur control scheme that swaps out quarter-circle commands for simple up or down stick flicks. Although well-meaning, this addition is of little consequence as 20 minutes of graft in the tutorials is all you need to get your head around the controls. In contrast, the new submission system constitutes a sea change; once a move has been initiated a mini-game flashes up on screen, in which the aggressor chases the defender around on an octagonal grid. The more beaten up you are, the smaller and slower your icon is, and thus easier to catch. Although it’s weirder than Chris Leben’s choice of entrance music, it does make some semblance of sense (and it beats just sitting there watching hands down), but don’t be surprised if THQ ring the changes again for UFC 4.
For hardcore MMA fans, UFC 3‘s main draw is the inclusion of Pride, a defunct Japanese promotion that was famed for its viciousness. In truth, despite a differently shaped ring and a laxer rulebook, it’s the same action with a change of scenery. But what a change of scenery!
Yuke’s has got Pride’s unique atmosphere and lighting effects down pat, and it’s a great buzz to see the fighters from yesteryear reunited and doing what they do best: giving each other concussions.
UFC Undisputed is a series that improves considerably with each new entry, and this year’s UFC 3 is no exception. Although the Pride stuff impresses, it’s the little details that make this the best MMA game yet – the stiffer punches, the fluid motions, the more convincing tussles on the ground.