It’s time! That’s right, it is time to strap on your gloves and get right into some mixed martial arts (MMA) action with UFC Undisputed 3. The now famous UFC Octagon awaits you, but this time mixed in with some classic ring action from its Japanese predecessor, Pride. So let us welcome in the dawn of foot stomps and soccer kicks as well as some old fan favorites and entrances from the Pride days of MMA. Does the title provide enough bone crunching, blood splattering, throw you to the matt action or does it fall on its face begging for mercy? Read on to find out.
You can start UFC Undipsuted 3 by going through an extensive tutorial, which I highly recommend in order to become familiar with or at least refreshed with what is going on during a fight. Transitions, strikes, new moves and pretty much all areas are reviewed during the tutorial. There are a total of 62 different exercises for you to work/fight through with the veteran voice of the Octagon, Mike Goldberg, explaining what is going on and why you are doing it. UFC Undisputed 3 works hard to mimic a real MMA fight, and, as such, forces you to know how to fight in all areas of the cage, as well as being able to handle yourself offensively and defensively, which makes the game very deep. UFC Unidsputed 3 forces the player to learn all of the different positions, styles, defenses and intricacies that make MMA such a deep and entertaining sport. This is not a slugfest and trying to turn fights into one will get you submitted.
We first got a look at UFC Undisputed 3 during a hands-on preview and were thoroughly impressed, but there are plenty of things that we did not see during the preview that continued to impress us. Now you can use the Octagon to work your offense and defense, you can use it to press opponents against to land viscous strikes or even use it to wall walk or spin out of different positions. The cage now adds to your strategy and driving an opponent into the cage will open up different options like dragging them down to the matt or punishing them with strikes.
Ground sways were also added to avoid TKOs on the ground, so now you can actually move your head and avoid taking punishing shots while in the mount or guard. Sways help you defend while not feeling helpless in a fetal position and deter the referee from stopping a fight via strikes. Also added is in between rounds you get advice from your corner as to how you did the previous round and they will dissect what you are doing well and poorly, as well as what you should be correcting for the next round.
Submissions have been completely reworked from the previous games. The new graphics-based submission system is intuitive for everyone and boils down to a mini game where the attacker tries to cover the opponents’ bar. The longer the attacker keeps the bars lined up will allow them to finish the submission, this makes submissions very visual now, and it is clear who is winning and losing the submission battle, unlike previous games where you were just rotating the analog stick and hoping.
Submission transitions have also been added allowing fighters that are skilled in submissions to switch between different submissions if they are losing the original one they were going for. Submissions also take into account how much damage a limb has taken and the fatigue of the opponent, so a rocked opponent is at a big disadvantage when a submission is being applied to them. At first the new system is a bit tough to get a hang of, but the more you attempt it and get used to it, the more fun and gratifying it becomes when you choke someone out or break their arm.
Career mode has also been completely over hauled and it serves as a great way to learn/master the game from the ground up while taking a new fighter and crafting him into a champion. You are tested before starting a career to see what difficulty you should fight at, which is nice if this is your first time playing. You will start your career as an unknown fighter in a minor league with very basic skills and moves and try to work your way up to stardom.
During career mode you are invited to take part in fights in different weight classes as well as in Pride where you can take a shot at winning the Grand Prix. Fighting in different weight classes will give you the opportunity to try and win the UFC title in two different weight classes, which adds realism and depth to the game. A typical career will last around 40 fights, and then your fighter will be forced to retire from the fight game. Career mode has been streamlined considerably to focus more on fighting and less on stats. This shift really makes things enjoyable and less calculated. You now collect Creds to buy new sparring partners and abilities while participating in different mini games to improve your overall stats in different areas, and you can even work on game plans for certain fights (i.e. will you ground and pound or be aggressive?). Successfully completing a gameplan will increase your stats and also provide you with certain things that you will need to do during the fight in order to complete the gameplan well. You also have the option to take an existing fighter through a run through career mode as well. As you play through career you get a great feel for what a fighter goes through leading up to a fight and you can craft a fighter that you want to use, a knockout specialist or a submission master, with strengths and weaknesses that you will have to learn to fight with.
UFC Undisputed 3 worked hard to improve upon itself and add as much content as possible to make this as authentic an experience as possible. There are a ton of modes including Title Defense mode, Ultimate Fights mode and of course Career mode. Tons of fighters have been added as well as ring entrances for each fighter; there are new sponsors and even a customizable fight banner to be shown off in the Octagon. Small things have been added like trainers entering the Octagon with you and celebrating after key wins and even silly things like confetti flying when you win in Pride. I could not help but smile when I heard my first techno filled Pride entrance and saw Rampage Jackson walk into the ring wearing his patented American flag boxers and looking younger than his UFC counterpart. It is this level of detail and plethora of content are exactly what fans are looking for in this game, and I commend the developers for taking this project to the limit.
Amateur versus Professional grappling control increases accessibility for all skill level of players. Using Pro controls will require you to rotate the right analog in order to perform major and minor transitions while the simplified Amateur Control scheme only requires you to flick the right analog up or down. This was a huge complaint of newer players trying to break into the series, a Pro player would destroy a novice player on the ground easily and the addition of Amateur controls at least gives new players a fighting chance.
I still prefer the Pro controls as it allows you to choose directions during transitions and when you want to pull off major versus minor transitions, Amateur controls will not. Taking a fight to the ground now is at least a bit fairer for those just learning how to play. If you really want to challenge yourself or get very angry at the AI and really test your MMA skills, the basic difficulties are good enough for you to walk through, but when you start getting to Advanced and beyond it will separate the men from the boys quickly and I warn you the computer does not mess around.
Graphically the game looks phenomenal; at times it becomes hard to differentiate the video game fights from a real one. The hard work that the developers put in to scan fighters and get small details correct, like the referees, down to the fighter’s mouth guards is impressive. The body scans of fighters really are great and the addition of different fighter scans and stats for their older Pride versions is a very nice touch. Not only do the nice graphics play into the feel of the game they are actually functional, as damage inflicted to an opponent and yourself is visible and will give you hints as to where you should continue to attack or defend. You will see you ribs get bruised from body shots and over time your character will crumble if he takes enough damage, the same goes for cuts and bruises to a fighters face. The addition of movie cut scenes really give you a sense of what fighters go through at different points of their career, first win, first title, first UFC fight and retiring while taking you down memory lane.
Online play is good when it works well, unfortunately at the time of this review there is some connectivity issues popping up and causing online matches to disconnect. Online allows you to play both ranked and unranked matches as well as join player created gyms. Online typically works smooth and allows you to fight against all of the Pride and UFC characters as well as the DLC and crated characters. Lag really was not much of an issue during my matches but, unfortunately, disconnections were typically when I was in the process of winning. It seems rage quitting is still rearing its ugly head and I can only hope that THQ will be working on patching this quickly as it sullies the online experience. Winning only gives you points and in turns ups your rank which changes who your potential opponents may be online.
This title took all of its rough spots from preceding version and polished them up to make an overall well rounded fighting experience that provides the best MMA game to date, hands down. It is must buy for any MMA or UFC fan and will provide quite a few great moments for the hardcore fan. So, you want to be a fighter? It’s time!! UFC Undisputed 3 makes a run for best and deepest fighting game to date because there are so many facets of the game to master and being good at one will not ensure you a win.