They say that Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport in the world and judging by the number of organizations springing up everywhere it is hard to dispute that claim. But what exactly is the appeal of MMA? At its core MMA is a brutal male soap opera like wrestling, except that the outcome isn’t ever pre-determined.
Out of the various organizations to feature Mixed Martial Arts the Ultimate Fighting Championship is the most recognizable. The letters UFC are known the world over and it is because they are known for being the best. The have the best fighters, best production value, and provide the best overall experience. The UFC actually has a video game lineage dating all the way back to the Sega Dreamcast, if you can believe it. The reason that you probably didn’t realize that is because the games have been pretty bad. But last year THQ managed to score an upset victory with UFC 2009 Undisputed. The game was good, albeit a bit lacking in several areas such as fighters, features, and polish. This year with UFC Undisputed 2010 THQ is gunning for the championship.
Picking up the game for the first time you are treated to a pretty thorough and detailed tutorial on all of the games moves. A few new additions to this year’s title included the ability to sway back and forth to dodge strikes and the posture system which allows your fighter to deliver fight ending strikes from every position. There are new/more strikes, submissions, transitions and cage interaction. One of the flaws in the first game was the lack of certain disciplines such as Sambo, Karate and Greco-Roman Wrestling (which are all featured in this game) making the game feel limited in terms of what you were able to do.
The control scheme itself is not “overly” complicated, but it definitely forces you to think about what buttons you are pressing and when. As a button masher, you will not do well in this game in the long run. You might have slight success in the beginning but once the game adapts to your play style you will have a much harder time being successful. So do yourself a favor and learn the control scheme up and down side to side over and over. It’s like the saying goes: “You want to be a fighter? Well it’s going to take a lot of practice.”
Practicing the various holds/techniques will allow you to go from being a one-dimensional fighter to an actual contender. As for the fights themselves they have a tendency to mimic their real life counterparts pretty well, running the gamut from short 1 round KOs to 3 round decisions and everything in-between. An issue that bothered a lot of people last year was the prevalence of “Flash KOs”; which is where either you or your opponent get knocked out instantaneously seemingly out of no where. The complaints about this were so bad that THQ was said to be toning it down for this year’s version. However from my experience with the game they are just as frequent as before. You have no idea how unbelievably frustrating it is to be kicking someone’s ass just for them to land one good counter punch and put your fighter to sleep on the canvas. It is really annoying. (And just as a side note: Submissions are really “wtf-inducing” sometimes as well.)
The career mode is beefed up this year with a multitude of options available to the player such as sponsors and checking what the UFC brass thinks about different fighters. The main aspect of career mode is your created fighter and the character creation system in 2010 is more robust. There are a lot more options available to customize your unique fighter such as character names for the announcer to say during introductions. One huge irk was the lack of “Matthew” or “Matt” whatsoever. They put in names like “MUHAMMED” but not “Matthew”, what the hell UFC/THQ? When you have fighters NAMED Matt (Matt Huges/Serra/Hamill) in the game, how hard would it have been to add that name to the list of ones available to choose from? Sheer laziness on someone’s part for sure. Another thing I noticed about the character creation is that the sideburns don’t match up with the rest of the hairline. Huh? So much for creating a decent virtual representation of myself, thanks THQ. Hopefully others of you out there will have a better opportunity.
Once you actually do create someone, the career mode is actually pretty good. The game starts you off in the World Fighting Alliance and you make a name for yourself there before moving on up to the big leagues. When Dana White comes calling, you know that you are going to fight some guys whose names you might actually recognize. Another great addition to the game is the ability to take part in the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan after beating one of these superstars. The interview lets you choose from a couple of different responses (a la Mass Effect) that boost your popularity or give you more sponsors or both.
Additions to the game like Tournament and Ultimate Fights mode increase the replayability of the game but Title Defense mode is where I want to spend a little bit of time. In Title Defense mode you are tasked with defending the title that you won in Title Mode. This is one of the hardest things you will do in the entire game, if you manage to pull it off. Why? No ability to save progress and continue later on. You are forced to play about 12 fights in a row with a line-up of opponents that usually gets smarter and more in-tuned to your play style, and that makes this mode exceedingly difficult. You lose any one fight and the mode is over. Not “replay that fight and don’t lose this time” type of over but the “you have to re-start the whole damn mode” type of over. Lame.
This brings me to another frustrating aspect of the game: the difference in difficulty between each difficulty mode feels TOO great. There is no easing into it, it’s either winning big or being dominated. Anything above advanced and you are definitely going to be in for a challenge.
Planning to fight online? Well brace yourself for having to download a code. THQ is trying to fight used game sales, and this is one way of doing it. Not going to say it is the right way, but only time will tell if they are successful. By emphasizing the code aspect, THQ placed a lot onto the online aspect of Undisputed 2010. The online aspect allows you to join fight camps and leagues to participate in ranking and champion tracking systems. Unfortunately the online still needs some work. Even when hosting the game I experience a bunch of lag. Plus finding a match outside of quick match takes a while, not exactly encouraging someone who impatiently wants to pound someone’s face in. Visually the presentation is almost spot-on to any real UFC event. There’s the “tale of the tape”, detailed fighter intros, the ref’s instructions, etc. The brutality looks amazing and the level of detail is damn near impeccable. Two really great players could probably play this game on a projector screen in a theater and charge people to watch, it really is that great.
Commentary in the game is good, if not repetitive once you spend some time with the game. My fighter of choice, Wanderlei Silva, is great at delivering head kicks and so I was KO-ing guys left and right with them. The first time I heard Joe Rogan say that it was a “perfectly timed and well placed head kick” I felt like a bad ass. After the 300th time of hearing him say it, it got pretty stale and even downright annoying. But as long as you aren’t a one trick pony like me, you probably won’t be hearing the same thing over and over again as there are so many fighters and options available to the player.
UFC Undisputed 2010 aims for the Knock-Out victory, but only manages to earn a decision. It is a fun but sometimes flawed experience. I recommend this game if you enjoy playing with your friends because there is a lot of entertainment to be had with it. But as a solo gamer you will more than likely become frustrated with the game at some point. So while Undisputed 2010 currently holds the championship for being the best MMA game, it is only a matter of time before someone is going to come along and
Flash KO it to take the belt.
- Matt W.