UFC Undisputed 3 – The PS3 Attitude Review
Since its first release in 2009, the UFC Undisputed franchise has been at the forefront of stellar fighting game experiences on the PlayStation 3. This week sees the release of the third game in the mixed martial arts series, after an almost two year hiatus; so, is UFC Undisputed 3 worth the wait for MMA fans?
UFC’s gameplay is much more strategic than most other fighting games. Button bashing simply isn’t going to work, particularly on the game’s brutal higher difficulties. The AI fighters are smart, so you constantly have to adapt to their styles of play, which helps keep things fresh and means no two fights are ever exactly the same.
Punching and kicking is simple, as each of the four face buttons match a particular limb, but things get a lot more complicated when you add in moves such as blocking, clinching, grappling and transitions. UFC Undisputed veterans will no doubt feel right at home very quickly, but newcomers may struggle to remember everything at first.
Fortunately, the game has an incredibly in-depth Guided Tutorial to talk you through everything you could ever want to know. As you’d expect there are numerous minor changes from previous UFC games, so even regular fighters should probably brush up before they enter the Octagon.
Once you’ve got to grips with the basic gameplay, most of your time in singleplayer will probably be spent in the absorbing Career mode, in which you create your own fighter and rise from an up-and-coming combatant to becoming UFC champion. Alternatively, you can also play in Roster Career mode, which allows you to play through the career with a real-life UFC or Pride fighter.
Mike Goldberg, lead announcer for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is back for Undisputed 3, and he does an excellent job guiding you through the Career mode and the various tutorials. You’ll also unlock real-life videos as you progress, which feature various UFC stars such as Sean Sherk and Mike Swick, revealing their own memories of UFC.
During your career, you’ll not only be participating in fights, but also completing training sessions to level up your fighter’s attributes, as well as attending camps to learn new moves and level up those moves you use most. There’s nothing completely revolutionary here, but it’s still incredibly deep, ridiculously customisable and insanely addictive.
As well as Career, other singleplayer modes include Title, an arcade-style mode which tasks you with rising through the ranks to become UFC champion, and Title Defense, a variant in which you must defend your title against other fighters. You can also set your own parameters in Tournament mode and even create your own events from scratch in Event mode.
Of particular interest to MMA fans is the returning Ultimate Fights mode, in which you can relive or even rewrite historic UFC and Pride matches. To make things more interesting, during the fight the game will cycle through a list of objectives, many of which are easier said than done, so it’ll take a while to get 100% for both fighters on all fights.
At this point we should also give a special mention to the game’s fighter roster. Yuke’s and the UFC have done an fantastic job including as many fighters as possible, with a massive 150 UFC and Pride fighters on the disc with more to come as DLC, from Anderson Silva to Brad Pickett, Quinton Jackson to Mirko Cro Cop – you’ll find them all in UFC Undisputed 3.
For everything good you do in UFC Undisputed 3, you’ll be rewarded with Shop Points, which can be spent to unlock various items such as clothing, movies, extra fighters and much more. There’s a crazy amount of stuff to experience in UFC undisputed 3, so even dedicated players will struggle to see absolutely everything the game has to offer.
UFC Undisputed 3’s singleplayer modes might be challenging on the harder difficulties, but if you really want to test your skills, you’ll have to fight against other players. Unfortunately local multiplayer is very thin on the ground, with just a standard Exhibition mode, but the game’s online component is much more robust.
As you’d expect, both Ranked and Player matches are available, and you can even set up your own fight camps (UFC’s equivalent of clans), where you can train and spar with your friends and even take on other camps. As well as matches, there are extensive online leaderboards that keep track of all kinds of statistics, such as your highest win streak, number of KOs, and fastest win.
You can even create your own content and share it with the world (and, of course, download other players’ content), such as custom fighters, logo designs, event cards and highlight reels (smart video replays you can choose to record at the end of any fight). Between the singleplayer and online modes, UFC has a ton of stuff to keep fans busy for a very long time.
The game’s presentation is strong throughout with visuals that are extremely impressive; there’s obviously a limit to how good a fighting arena or gym can look, but to that end, Yuke’s has surely maxed out what’s possible on current hardware. During fights, there’s very little by way of an HUD, so nothing distracts you from your goal.
The developer has clearly put a lot of work into making the game feel like a real UFC show; Mike Goldberg introduces the fights, the fighters walk into the arena while loud music plays and the fights themselves have full commentary. You could potentially lose hours to the game simply by watching fights, rather than playing them yourself.
One of the reasons why fights between AI opponents are worth watching is because it allows you to truly appreciate the game’s detailed animations, with fighters flawlessly transitioning between various stances with ease. The UFC series has always had a strong emphasis on realism and in that regard UFC Undisputed 3 sets a new benchmark.
Never is that realism more apparent than when a fighter is on the receiving end of a particularly weighty punch or kick. Strikes feel heavy and satisfying, so you can almost feel the pain when an opponent gets knocked out, and as sweat trickles down the victor’s back, you know they’ve just given it everything they’ve got.
The game’s performance is mostly seamless, but we did have one slight gripe with the loading screens, which is that there are simply so many of them. Admittedly, in isolation they aren’t particularly long, but it’s somewhat annoying for a loading screen to pop up at all when the only thing you want to do is check your records and statistics.
When it comes down to it though, we’re clutching at straws to try and think of things we didn’t like about this game, because it genuinely is a fantastic technical achievement. We’d never go as far as saying a game was perfect, but UFC Undisputed 3 is just about as close to perfect as an MMA game can get… that is, at least until the next UFC game comes out.
What with all the rumours over THQ’s alleged financial trouble, UFC Undisputed 3 is an extremely important release for the company. We’re therefore delighted to say that the team at Yuke’s has delivered a fantastic game, which should not only be an essential purchase for UFC enthusiasts, but also fans of other fighting games.
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