Giant Bomb Review

32 Comments

UFC 2009 Undisputed Review

4
  • X360
  • PS3

The single-player options are a little slim, but taking the fight to opponents over the Internet is absolutely awesome.

Whatever happens here will probably hurt someone.
UFC 2009 Undisputed is a great representation of the actual sport of Mixed Martial Arts fighting. It captures the hard hits and the vicious knockouts as well as the thrill of strategic ground-based combat and submission maneuvers. The fighting system is easy to understand, but offers a great, complex layer that allows different players to have their own styles and a system of moves and countermoves that makes the fights really exciting. About the only catch is that the single-player side of UFC 2009 feels a little thin. But it trains you well enough for the game's great multiplayer to still be worthwhile.

Those of you who remember the old UFC games that started appearing back on the Dreamcast will notice some similarities in this new game, but the fighting is much deeper this time around. A big part of UFC's fighting is that it can take place standing up, with one player down, and with both players on the ground in various positions. All of these positions, and the transitions between them, translate into a lot of things you'll need to learn to do well. It's easy to understand the various blocks, attacks, and counters at work, but figuring out which ones to use and when takes a lot more time to master. It's the fighting system that makes UFC so awesome, and playing against human opponents of a similar skill level offers a thrilling mix of boxing game ring position work and fighting game technicality.

When playing alone, the game offers a career mode that has you select opponents and go through training. There's a calendar that shows the weeks you have remaining, and it's up to you to balance your stamina between sparring, training, and resting to make sure you go into the fight with higher statistics while still having enough stamina to actually win the fight. Along the way you'll earn "cred" and unlock sponsors that can be placed on your trunks to earn an additional cred bonus. The trunk customization is sort of an insufferable process due to all the menus you need to slog through to get there. It takes forever just to select ten logos to slap onto your trunks, and since you're always unlocking better sponsors, you'll probably have to keep coming back to it again and again. Also, just getting from event to event takes too long. Between all the little load times between menus, the slow-going trunk customization, the slow-moving menus on the e-mail screen, and everything else, navigating your way through the career is kind of a hassle. Also, once you win the belt, the game just keeps throwing the same handful of high-ranking fighters at you over and over again without making them any tougher. After getting 15 straight wins with my light heavyweight striking-focused assassin, Ricker Stevensenson, it felt like I was just grinding away to get my stats up.

Former WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar is one of the many available UFC fighters.
Beyond just setting up one-off exhibition fights, the other single-player mode lets you relive classic match-ups. These fights are set up with video packages that provide the proper context for them, and you're given the fight's conclusion and have a goal to recreate that conclusion. Some of these are kind of tough because the AI fighters aren't very hard to beat. So trying to win a fight by decision is hard because getting knockouts can happen almost by accident. Also, getting the AI-controlled fighters to submit is way tougher than knocking them out.

But all of the flaws and hiccups in the single-player are quickly forgotten when you start taking on human opposition. Offline, two players can get into it locally in the exhibition mode. But online, the game has some interesting stuff in place to track your ranked fights. Points you earn in ranked fights go toward increasing your level, and you also earn or lose fans after each fight. You'll get more points after a fight for specific tasks, too, like getting a knockout, forcing an opponent to tap, winning quickly, or ending an opponent's win streak. Another cool feature is that the game presents a few traits on the fighter select screen that show your opponent some details about how you fight. So it might say that you prefer fighting on the ground, or that you aren't afraid to strike, and so on. It's a little thing, but it makes your fights feel more meaningful, like you're stringing together some kind of online fight career.

The character models in UFC 2009 Undisputed look great, but don't always animate that well. While specific animations look great, seeing them repeated across fighters or seeing them poorly transition from one canned animation to the next makes the game look a little awkward in spots. But the strikes hit hard, the knockouts look devastating, and the submissions look, well, like they'd probably make you tap out, too. The audio features two-man commentary that repeats itself a little too often and only has background information on the game's real-life fighters. When you're playing a ton of career mode with a created fighter, it would have been nice to hear the announcers occasionally reference the career you've made for yourself.

If you're looking for a game you can play alone, UFC 2009 Undisputed will probably get pretty boring for you. Even with multiple difficulty settings, fighting the AI doesn't stay exciting for very long. But if you're in a household with multiple UFC fans or enjoy getting online, you'll love it.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
32 Comments
Posted by Meltbrain

Sweet. I played the demo enough to have pretty much made the decision to get it, but the quick look definitely boosted that. It's a solid fighting game, despite it's occasional jankiness.

Posted by Absurd

If only they released it for PC as well :[

Posted by Kohe321

Looks cool.

Posted by Evilross

Been waiting for this game a LOOONG time now. I picked it up today and its really great.

The demo was a lot of fun and showed you what to expect, but getting to play as all the different fighters in the full game has really showed depth.  I haven't started career mode yet, I've been too busy using Sean Sherk to pummel BJ Penn into a coma over and over again. Knocking Penn TFO never gets boring.


Posted by KimFidler

Picked it up.  Can't wait to throw it in tonight.  Managed to snag it for $35 at Future Shop in Canada.

Edited by MeatSim

Yea I played the demo and I just whaled out the punch button and won easily so online is the only place your gonna get a challenge most likely.

Posted by ANDYx0WNEDxU

GROUND AND POUND BABY GROUND AND POUND!!!
Im not a big fan of ufc as i am very into boxing and prefer it to ufc however i found the demo of this to be a very fun and engaging game with loads of moves to keep fights interestingly different each time. Much like fight night i was very impressed with how intuitive it felt and will be picking this game up for sure.

Posted by Danishmaggot

I absolutely love this game!! I want to play against you Jeff, it would be a pretty easy win for you though.

Posted by JackiJinx

Playing with yourself: no challenge, not as fun.
Playing with others: more challenge, more fun.

So, what's new?

Posted by theMcNasty

"My name's Brock Lesnar, I have a sweet sword /brass knuckles tattoo on my chest."

Posted by HatKing

Yeah after watching that amazing Quick Look I had to go pick this up.  First game I've bought since...probably November.

Posted by matrix_hiei

I'm definitely getting this once my 360 gets back from repair.

Posted by ChrisRE

For the people thinkin' it's a knife on Brock's chest, it's not. it's a giant D*CK with veins and all, go check it out. There are tons of pics out there.

Anyways, good and fair review. Much better than what Justin did over on gamespot.

Posted by Media_Master

This sport needs a game like this to show off what they're all about!

Posted by TomA

It's still like any other fighting game, it doesn't capture the fluid motion of fighting.

Posted by TheHakku

Review video ends prematurely but I get the general idea. Looks good.

Posted by lockload

will be picking this up

Posted by eneLon

The demo seemed pretty good, the game didn't catch my eye until I played it. Really interested in the Create a Fighter aspect of the game, planning on picking it up ASAP.

Posted by John1912

Well, this looks like crap....1 min matches arent fun to me...

Posted by JerichoBlyth

This game actually looks half decent. It's fresh, fast, fun and...fexcitng.

I believe that this game will play exactly the same as the Dreamcast version, based on how easy it was to pick up and play the demo...and that was probably the best 'real world' fighting game I had played in a long time...well...until Fight Night Round 3 was released anyway!

The only thing that depresses me about the overall reception for this game is IGN's review. Why are they so hell bent on 'looking forward to future releases' instead of at least giving the game, which they have based their distant fairy-ass dreams upon, a fair score. A lot of people's opinions will be swayed by a huge site like IGN and so...I dunno - I don't want to sound like a marketting representative here lol

Posted by ocdog45

I knew it would be a good game. lsy gens consoles had no chance of truly showing off what it feels like to be in the cage. ths is a fun game to play with other people.

Posted by F1

Got it yesterday at "the Best Buy". Tons of fun! I play as my favorite fighter Mirko Cro Cop, and KO'd Brock Lesnar, Noguiera, and Eddie Sanchez all by Left Kick KO! Sucks that he isn't southpaw in the game like he is in real life, but it's fine. I also KO'd Gonzaga, just to get a little revenge, hehe.

Posted by Lotan

This game is far to laggy to enjoy online.  Even in tolerably lagy fights it's almost impossible to block.

Posted by kozzy1234

This game is so awesome, im loving it so far.

Great review!!!

I give it a 9/10... only problems i have are the menus and that KNOCKOUTS happen to often. Other then that the game is perfect!

Posted by MasterSwanny

Great review. This game will be in my 360 for a while, awesome game for local multiplayer

Posted by YoungBuck

The demo was good, but i'm not sold when I saw the quick look. It looks like every fight would end up finishing in the 1st round.

Posted by AlchemistiD

"Natural 20, you got punched in the face."

If that doesn't get meme'd...

Posted by DrLove
@YoungBuck: bump up the AI difficulty and you will have a good challenge 
Posted by RHCPfan24

It seems like a competent fighting game actually. I gave the demo a try and was surprised how it was actually good. Not my taste, but I am sure it will do well.

Posted by needforswede

I didn't think this was the game for me.  I love fighting games of all kinds but never gave a damn about UFC.  But if it's a good game it doesn't matter what it's based on.  I was thoroughly impressed with the demo...the last demo I played this much was probably the first skate. demo.  If I had money I'd buy it right now.

Posted by Merx

Reminds me of Wrestlemania 2000 on the N64, and thats no bad thing!

Posted by BumTicker

A bit late to the party here, but knowing that Jeff is down with Sakuraba is pretty effing sweet.