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UFC Undisputed 2010 is the 2nd edition of the THQ line of UFC games and, as expected, it makes some improvements over last years game. Here's the big changes that they touted:
Encourage camaraderie by forming fight camps and leagues to participate in ranking and champion tracking systems. Join forces, train like real-life UFC fighters and go online to compete against other camps in the virtual UFC world.
Navigate a roster of more than 100 prolific UFC fighters, each fully rendered to convey a photorealistic appearance. Prominent UFC personalities, including the commentary team of Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg.
A new Sway System with full upper body and head movement allows for the dodging of attacks, while on the ground and a new Posture System delivers fight-ending strikes from every position.
Choose from an array of moves from all available disciplines, including newly added Sambo, Karate and Greco-Roman Wrestling, to become a true mixed martial artist.
The "Game Is Watching You" system tracks every action and uses this information to dictate in-game commentary and career progression. Enhance the Career Mode experience through online co-op sparring sessions.
I can tell you that they really delivered on most of those promises. However, this game has been plagued with a number of problems on the online side, so I didn't mess with that at all. For my thoughts on that parts I did play though, follow me after the jump.
One of my biggest knocks about last year's game was the fact that they made you choose a primary and secondary skill set. The moves your fighter could learn would then be based in those two sets. This year, they made the game much more true to life, allowing you to visit any camp you chose, choose any move from that camp (of course, limited to 1 move per button combo), and as long as you could garner enough points during your training session, you could learn the move and start showing it off in a live fight. This allows you to truly customize you fighter, creating him in any way you could imagine, and really allowing you to fight from your strengths as a player. I think this was the biggest and most needed change, so it was a great start.
The actual UFC fighters in the game look terrific. You really couldn't ask for much more in that department. The periphery characters though, left alot to be desired. Mike Goldberg, Joe Rogan, and Bruce Buffer looked like poor, plastic imitations of themselves. But we didn't come here to look at them.
The actual roster of fighters was interesting to me at first though. The first glaring missed fighter is Randy Couture. He's one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, how can't he be in the game? Well, he had a contract with EA a few years back (even before the first game was in development) to do voice acting in a Command and Conquer game... so he's going to be in the EA MMA game. It was also curious to see Dan Henderson and Andre Arlovski in this game. They were able to make it into the game because their previous UFC contracts signed over their image and likeness, so UFC still owned their rights. It was also good to see Clay Guida in the game. He was left out of the first one because they couldn't get his signature long hair to jive with their contact sensors. They even offered him a large sum of money to get it cut so they could include him in the first game and he declined. But he's made his way into this one.
The game play itself is really progressing well. This year, they added a sway system to help defend against punches, as well as to deliver more powerful strikes. The other big addition was grappling against the cage. Fighting and grappling against the cage is a huge part of MMA, in the UFC in particular, and it needed to be in the game.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about the game is the "Game Is Watching You" system. It was awesome having the commentators make actual comments about my fighter and his career; how I finished my last opponent, how much trash I might have talked, how my career trajectory has been. This really brings you into the game environment, making you feel like a fighter instead of a fat dude, sitting in his living room, eating chips and playing a game. You'd even get interviewed by Joe Rogan (he'd practically scream the interview at you, just like in real life!) after a big fight, allowing you to choose from some pre-set answers to his questions. Overall, the career mode was put together very well.
One of the big complaints I had, and this could simply be attributed to my lack of skill, but the game difficulty seemed a bit faulty. I'm not very good at the game, so I played on a lower level. But when I progressed through my career to get a title shot, I was steamrolling everybody, rarely making it out of the first round, but when I fought for the belt, the game became almost unbeatable. I've found people online too that played the game on Expert and had so much trouble with the championship fights that they would drop the difficulty down, play through their career again, and still have a lot of trouble with that title fight.
Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, you want the championship to be something very difficult to attain, but you should gradually increase the difficulty. Becoming the number 1 contender should also be difficult, your first time on a PPV should be difficult. It should just immediately shoot up to nearly invincible. I did end up getting the belt, but I must've restarted the game 20-25 times. And I only made it out of the first round maybe 3 or 4 times of those 20 restarts, it wasn't like I was coming close to winning but fell just short. But since I finally did get the belt, I was immediately back to steamrolling people, even though I had the belt. So it's not as if the game becomes super difficult in every championship fight, it's only when you are the contender, and that's a problem.
Also due to my lack of skill with video games, I could never really figure out the sway system, or the submissions. I've talked to a lot of people that told me about how easy submissions were and how it was just a timing thing... but I could never figure that timing out. I really wish they made that a bit easier as well, or at least had a better tutorial so that I could learn how to take advantage in that phase of the game.
The best news about this game is they really seem to acknowledge their weaknesses, and genuinely try to improve them in each addition of this game. I don't think a UFC game every year is really necessary, we don't get new up and coming fighters that frequently, but as long as they delivery a healthy helping of upgrades every year, I can't fault them too much (it's a lot more than just a roster update, I'm looking at you EA Sports). They also didn't try to nickle and dime you with a bazillion micro-transactions (again, there's a big fat bulls-eye on you EA Sports!), which was nice.
If you like fighting games, I definitely recommend giving this one a try. It's a great game for MMA fans out there, but since there'll be another one out next year, I wouldn't spend the full $60 on it if you can avoid it. But for $30-$35? This game is well worth it.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Rent/Buy: Rent, unless you can find it for $35 or less
Platform: Xbox 360 and PS3
Cost: Varies [Amazon Link]
Release date: May 25th, 2010