Undisputably the best UFC game of 2009.
UFC 2009 Undisputed is the first “next”-gen game of the franchise and exceeds the former ones by miles and miles. For those of you who –like myself up until recently– don’t know what Ultimate Fighting Championship is, it is a sport of MMA, Mixed Martial Arts. As such, there are various styles and techniques among the many fighters in the game. Some of them include boxing, kickboxing, muay thai, judo, wrestling and a few more. With that said though, it is fairly obvious that the fighting is far from stale or repetetive. And the fact that it is a ton of fun doesn’t hurt either.
This isn’t a fighting game I’m used to playing, it is far more tactical –at least right off the bat– than say.. Your Tekkens or your Street Fighters, which is what I was used to. With that said though, it’s fairly easy to learn the basics, and a bit harder to learn the more advanced controls, which will take practice upon practice to master. Luckilly there is an excellent tutorial to help you along the way, it lists all the moves and how to execute them.
What’s interesting about UFC is that the fighting can take place with both players on their feet or with both on the ground, wrestling for control over the other. In the game, some fighters are better on their feet than they are on the ground, so that’s something that you’ll have to take advantage of when you’re playing. Especially if you’re going online. Knowing your opponents weaknesses will greatly improve chances of winning, also selecting the right character for that fight is important. For example, a fighter with a very high Takedown and Submission offence isn’t someone you want to be on the floor with. Unless you have the right stats to compete with that. Of course there’s always the option of trying to keep the fight standing, but that isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Especially if you’re going in against a takedown/submission specialist. Of course the roles can be reversed or met in the middle, and this makes for very interesting fights most of the time.
When it comes to the game’s single player options it gets a little… Light. Or rather, the options are plenty but the way in which they are executed leaves some room for improvement. That’s not to say that the game is bad in it’s single player, but it’s nowhere near as fun as the multiplayer can get. Firstly, there is the Career mode, which will build you up from a nobody to eventually winning the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The way you do this is you start of with an easy match against some randomly generated dude, and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose here, you’ll still get a basic sponsorship and training facilities. From the Boot Camp you’ll receive emails about upcoming fights and activities. And you’ll have to train and rest to get your stats and stamina up for the upcoming fight. Apart from the UFC fights, you’ll also receive emails from trainers other than your own from other camps who will invite you to come and train in their camp for a week. This is a great way to improve your techniques and fighting abilities. You’ll also get various things liek photoshoots and such, where you don’t really do anything yourself, you’ll just see a picture and then you’re done for the week. As you progress through the career you’ll unlock more abilities and fight points to improve your own created fighter’s chances of winning. One thing that’s fairly annoying with the career is that the menus are kind of sluggish, it’s nothing you’ll throw your controller at, but it can be a hassle.
Apart from Career Mode, there’s the Classic Fights mode, which will show you a video of how a classic fight went down in the real UFC, and it is then up to you to recreate that fight. For example, it can be something like, George St. Pierre winning by armbar submission in the second round. If that’s the case, you’ll have to do just that. If you’re successful in this, you’ll unlock some extras. I’m guessing it’s the full fight video, but I haven’t done it yet, so I can’t say.
Online is really where the game shines. This is where you’re ranked by your skills and is most similar to the real deal. By winning and executing certain moves during online matches you’ll raise your level and you’ll get medals for some of the moves. For example, if you’re one hell of a striker and manage to knock your opponent out fast, you’ll get a one-hit special medal. Or if you’ve managed to go from being mounted to you mounting your opponent, you’ll get mount reversal medal. This system keeps it interesting between fights, making you want to progress on a personal level. The game will also keep track of your wins and loses and this will be shown to your opponent, just like it would in a real UFC fight. The game will also ‘take notes’ if you will, of how you are playing, so that when you’re at the character select screen, it will say something like “Viscious ground & pounder”, “Loves the takedown”, “Strikes hard” and so on. This will change with you as you change your tactics. This information is shown for both players so you’ll see his strengths as well. You can also see both of the fighters stats so as to better plan your choice of character for the fight. All of this put togeteher makes for some great online fighting, with the exception of one thing… Lag. The destroyer of any online enabled game. I’ve had mixed experience with this, some fights have gone smooth as hell, while others have been nearly impossible to play. Lag in a game like this, where timing is crucial, isn’t acceptable. But then there’s only so much the developers/publishers can do about it. Latency will always be there if you’re playing against someone halfway around the globe. In my experience it seems to be getting better and better though. One can only hope that there will be a patch or something out for those who can’t resolve these problems, but I can’t say anything about that at the moment.
The game obviously looks great, with a few exceptions. Most fighter models are scanned from their real-life counterparts and they look great. There are however some fighters that are built from scratch and they don’t really look the part most of the time. They lack what the scanned models have in detail. Even the cutmen and referees have highly detailed models, as do the ring girls. Sadly, while it looks great, the animations don’t always add up to that. There are plenty of reused animation across fighters, which.. You know, sucks. But even so, the game looks, feels and plays very well.
During fights you’ll hear commentaries by the same persons you’d hear it from during a live fight. Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. These are pretty good most of the time, but sometimes it can get laggy or be a bit behind. Although that doesn’t happen often, and when it does it can be easily overooked. When you’re in a fight, the commentators aren’t your main concern anyway. With that said, they can get kind of repetetive at times, but then again all the moves are covered and there are a lot of moves to do and in various combinations, so it works out well in the end.
Something that bothers me in the sound department is crowd reaction. Particularly when a fight is won. You’ll get the commentators all riled up and excited but there isn’t much of a punch in the crowd’s responce to say.. A knockout. A simple tweak like that could have made that impact so much.. Harder, if you will.
That’s not to say that they punches, kicks, hits and submissions don’t have an impact, because they really do. Landing a hard hit in the game makes you feel really good about yourself, same goes for kicks and submission. Watching a Kimura can be quite painful in itself, but executing it, or any submission really, on your opponent feels really good.
If you’re a UFC fan, this game is a definite must-have. And If you’re a fan of fighting games in general, it is definitely worth checking out.