|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Yuke's Media||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 19, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Leon Hendrix III
March 2, 2009 - Im a sucker for success stories, but arent we all? For my money the UFC is one of the best around, and Dana White is the poster child. White is probably responsible for one of the most incredible sports franchises around. The UFC President got together the partners to form the original group that purchased the UFC from the Semaphore Entertainment Group. It was White who transformed the UFC from boxings rough and tumble cousin to the mainstream cash cow it is today.
Alas, for all the UFCs marketability and pocket-lining there has yet to be a solid entry for gamers to kick around. Despite a few attempts at a reputable treatment of the license, the best fans of the UFC have been left with are a couple of C+ entries on the PS2 and Xbox. Amidst the discussion about the UFCs catapult to fame, gamers have had little to talk about until now. Leave it to White to get the UFC back in the game.
UFC 2009 Undisputed is the first next-gen liberty taken with the license and, with any luck, the best of the group. So far the game seems well underway to heavyweight champion. Gaming giants Yukes and THQ are developing and publishing, respectively. With their previous experience partnering on the Smackdown series in the equation, business is picking up.
Having practically invented the modern brawler, the two companies are sticking all their know how into Undisputed and it shows. From screenshots, trailers, and match videos, its obvious that an incredible level of attention has gone into the games presentation. Each fighter has been meticulously and beautifully rendered from tattoos and hairstyles to specific movements and fighting styles. Cut-men, managers, and cameramen hang off the fenced edge of the octagon and authentic sponsor logos and ads adorn the ring. The result is a visual arrangement that mimics a UFC bout without the price of a ticket.
The fidelity doesnt stop there, though. Audio is also clean and memorable and establishes the atmosphere to an amazing degree. Audiences scream and cheer as fan favorites are introduced by the enthusiastic announcer, but weve seen it before. What is new could be the audiences reactions. The crowd seems to know exactly when to scream and when to mellow, and every blow has its own soundtrack. The action is observed and commentated by real life announcers Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg. Ive read the pair provided nearly 30 hours of commentary for the game. On top of that, the sound crew recorded and mixed audio from live fights and included it in the game. None of these are entirely new concepts, but they are employed impressively here.
But any UFC fan comes for the fight, and it is here in abundance. Variety and authenticity are the name of the game when it comes to the in-ring action. Players can choose fighters in any of 5 weight classes (80 fighters total so far) and all the best are here. Rich Franklin, Wanderlai Silva, Brock Lesnar, Matt Hughes, Quinton Rampage Jackson, and Forest Griffin are each represented with attention to individual appearance, fighting style, and movement patterns right down to Griffins signature auburn chest-mane.
The fighting itself seems to take inspiration from a number of THQs own efforts, but the control scheme is closer to EAs Fight Night series. The face buttons control strikes (left and right) and the shoulders are modifiers and control blocking. Grappling is handled through the right analog stick. Unlike EAs sweet science series, players will not have to choose specific strikes, only the strike itself (punch or kick) and its location (left or right, head, body, legs). The games A.I. determines the best strike (jab vs. elbow, for example) for the situation based on distance to an opponent, position, fighting style, etc. It is a stripped down system that provides gamers with the essentials without complicating the fighting too much.
Ironically, fighting seems to maintain its complexity as gamers attempt to change positions and catch enemies off guard to score something akin to a flash KO or counter strikes into submissions. The all important ground and pound is the best example. As players takedown opponents, they will have to hammer their foes while being careful to look for opportunities to squirm into more powerful positions. The give and take of the system offers a level of true UFC action absent from other titles.
Undisputed seems to be coming together nicely, but the animations (while mostly natural) become a bit more canned when transitioning between positions and switching mounts, and missed clutches smack of, well, the early Smackdown games. There hasnt been much about play options, but expect an online match mode and a title chase to figure prominently into game time. With the release date still not announced, there is much work that can be done. Well have to wait until the games release to see if its worthy of its title.
Leon Hendrix III
CCC Freelance Writer