Duke It Out!
Generally, when you have a sports-licensed title, you can expect good things. Whether it’s the NCAA or the NHL, sports simulators have gotten to the point where quality is almost a given. However, this has not always been the case with MMA. Last generation’s UFC-licensed titles were mediocre at best, which was a real disappointment for fans of the franchise. But it looks like UFC fans can now rejoice, as UFC 2009 Undisputed is not only a great UFC-branded title, but also a good fighting game overall.
There are three main modes in UFC 2009 Undisputed: Career, Classic Fights, and Exhibition. Although all three of these modes are deep enough to be deemed a “main” mode, the one you are most likely to check out first is the Exhibition mode. This is the standard fighter vs. fighter mode, and it allows you to fight as your favorite UFC champions. There are over 80 fighters to choose from, including the infamous Chuck Liddell and the larger-than-life Brock Lesnar.
However, there is one caveat to the exhibition mode: you can only fight against players in your own weight class. Pitting a heavyweight against a lightweight may make for an entertaining match on-screen, but the stats would largely favor the bigger player, and it would largely detract from the overall sports feel it seems like the developers were going for.
However, if you really want to get into the deep sports aspect of UFC Undisputed 2009, you can look no further than Career mode. This mode challenges you to create your own UFC fighter and then take him through seven years of UFC training. Along the way, he’ll fight UFC superstars, and earn “cred” which will lead to sponsorship deals and extended training opportunities.
One of the most interesting facets of the UFC 2009 Undisputed Career mode is the different RPG elements it employs when you are working on your character. In between fights, your character will have several weeks to train, rest, and spar. While resting will allow you to build up stamina for the fight, the training and sparring actions will allow you to increase the level of your fighter’s specific attributes. Training can improve Cardio, Speed, and Strength, and drains stamina quickly; sparring drains stamina a little slower, but it gives you points to level up specific offensive and defensive stats.
Once you have gone through all seven years of the UFC with your character or leveled up your fighter to the point where you feel they are at their personal best, you can retire them and use them in the exhibition mode or the online modes. However, if you are hoping to go into a match with your friends with all your stats maxed, you will be a little disappointed. In order to keep the playing field level, the game caps the amount of times you can level something up to a reasonable number so you can’t have an unfair advantage. This limitation is again due to the fact that UFC 2009 Undisputed really strives to capture the sports value of the world of MMA and the UFC.
The final mode, Classic Fights, is the most fan-focused of the three. Although the other three are certainly approachable by fans and non-fans, Classic Fights will really appeal to those who are avid UFC followers. This mode allows you to relive historical fights in the UFC history. Before you engage in each fight, you will see a highlight reel showing off some of the buildup to the fight as well as interviews with the participants. Your goal, of course, is to recreate the match as it actually happens. Although you don’t really get points or trophies for recreating specific moves (like in Legends of Wrestlemania), the highlight reel as well as the commentary track really bring you into the fight.
The different modes in this game all have their own intended audience, and I have to say that I was quite pleased with the breadth of this game. Although the Career mode was of most interest to me, there is plenty here for both uber-fans and non-fans to experience, which is definitely a great thing.
Technically, this game is awesome. The visuals in UFC 2009 Undisputed are unmatched in the fighting genre, and even though it might sound cheesy, watching this game from afar looks like watching the real thing. Character models are very nicely detailed, from their muscle definition to their individual tattoos and body markings.
One thing that was particularly impressive was the way that damage is handled. As each fighter gets pummeled, you will start to see bruising, and eventually cuts on areas that have been frequently hit. These injuries don’t just appear randomly; they gradually become visible as a fight wears on.
Sound in this title is also very impressive, mainly because of the commentary track. I was continually surprised at how accurate the commentary was during fights, and I rarely heard repeated phrases during my first few hours of gameplay. Although the music in the game is sort of generic, the commentary really pumps up the sound quality, and it adds to the deep immersion value of this game.
As far as control is concerned, UFC 2009 Undisputed is definitely not a title for beginners. Although the face buttons are tied to left/right kicks and left/right punches, in order to perform grappling and submission moves, you will have to perform some complex actions. Although the tutorial mode takes about a half hour to go through, it is definitely worth it, as the matches require quite a bit of strategy and advanced moves for success.
I am not a big fan of the UFC. Sure, I’ve seen a few matches here and there, but I don’t really follow the sport devoutly. I guess wrestling is more my cup of tea. Now, that said, I have to admit I love this game. UFC 2009 Undisputed takes all the things that makes the UFC sport electrifying for fans, and puts it into a cohesive and realistic game experience. Even if you are not a follower of the UFC, if you like sports games or even just fighting games, UFC 2009 Undisputed is an extraordinary title that won’t disappoint! With plenty of modes and lengthy career and classic modes, you may find yourself drawn to the octagon more than you expected!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.9 Graphics
The level of realism in both the fighter models and the animations is staggering. It is truly an amazing game to watch, and easily the best-looking fighting game so far this year. 3.9 Control
Basic controls are easy to use and responsive, but for advanced moves, you may need to practice a bit on the tutorial. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is generic, but the commentary track is amazing. Announcers talk about your moves in real-time with little to no lag, and really help to immerse you in the experience. 4.7 Play Value
The career mode is very lengthy, and the 80+ roster in exhibition mode allows for plenty of replay value. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.