The UFC and MMA have taken the world by storm and are in the highest level of popularity now, which makes perfect sense why they decided to make a video game. In UFC 2009 Undisputed, THQ teams up with Yuke’s to bring the fast paced action of mixed martial arts to your home console. Since I am a huge fan of the UFC and MMA in general I held this title to a very high standard especially after seeing past iterations on the Dreamcast and Xbox fall short.
Undisputed provides us classic MMA action as true to real life as possible. It sports a full roster of fighters from the UFC, ranging from Brock Lesnar and George St. Pierre to new comers Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonner. The fighters are split into different weight classes to make matches fair so you will have to pick from light heavyweight, heavyweight, welterweight, middleweight and lightweight. Aside from the standard fighters you can also create your own fighter and have them compete online or offline.
The game shines in its gameplay and collision detection. Undisputed has perhaps the best collision detection in any fighting game to date, which is excellent since the game is based solely off of striking and grappling. In general there are three striking styles: kickboxing, boxing and Muay Thai as well as three grappling styles: wrestling, Judo and BJJ. Each fighter has one striking style and a grappling style, which is nice since this will help keep things fresh when playing. The different styles will also force you to adapt to different moves and make up different strategies in order to dominate other players. Knowing about mixed martial arts and ven the terminology will prove to be very beneficial in playing Undisputed as you will understand different transitions and ways to perform moves.
Undisputed is the fighting game that provides many different opportunities for players to enjoy a fight. They can choose to stand and trade punches or take the fight to the ground and transition to different positions in order to pound out opponents or catch them in a submission. The game plays different than Fight Night in that you can always take a fighter to the ground in order to catch your breath or break up a combo. The most important thing to remember in Undisputed is to never get too tired as this will make being knocked out or submitted much easier. It is very important in the game to conserve your energy and never over exert yourself by throwing too many haymakers as an experienced player will quickly turn the tables on you.
Undisputed is one game where you need to sit through the tutorial sessions and go through the career in order to get a good feel for the game. There are many different moves and transitions that can be carried out by moving the right stick in certain ways and these need to be practiced. The worst thing you can try is going online without having practiced as playing against an experienced player will be not be a contest. The controls in UFC Undisputed are slick and intuitive but are very difficult to master. Once you play through a few matches you will get a hang of the striking and then you will need to master submissions, transitions, reversals, blocks and a myriad of other things. The most important thing to remember when playing is that this game is far from a button masher and will require a strategy and lots of technique to win.
There is a decent career mode where you can create your own fighter and make a run for the title. You get to choose different things to do every week between fights like public appearances to increase your street cred and unlock sponsors or spar to increase your stats. There is a balance you have to do between sparring and resting as each sparring session uses up your energy and you can take a fight while not being at 100%. In the career mode you can customize your trunks with different sponsor logos as you unlock them by fighting and building your reputation. The only thing that I did not like in career mode is that it is very linear and you really don’t have to do anything but spar and rest, Dana White will occasionally ask you to take a fight on short notice but these are not necessary and neither are the public appearances. My other gripe with the career is that the ability to customize your character is fairly limited and aside from customizing your trunks there really isn’t anything else to customize.
There is also a classic fight mode in which you get to re-create popular matches. If you re-create the fight correctly by winning in the same manner the real fight ended you will unlock a movie of clips form that fight. This is a nice add on but unfortunately is limited to a dozen or so fights.
Online play is both fun and frustrating for a few different reasons. Once you take your skills online you will quickly realize that the computer AI is nothing like a real player, but then again that can be a bad thing also. Online play has two big pitfalls: jerks who quit out of games because they are about to lose in order to not get a loss and bouts of lag that slow down matches. Aside from the two pitfalls the game plays identically online and provides a solid ranking system that rewards players for wins and certain achievements during fights like not taking damage or reversing an opponent. There is a complete record of all of your fights in different weight classes as well as how many KO’s, TKO’s and submissions you have compiled through your online career.
The game plays silky smooth with no framerate issues to speak of and does a good job of showing damage on fighters as fights go on. Damage is also localized to the areas you strike such as many punches to the face will lead to a knockout and many kicks to the body will result in a knockdown. The game does a good job for the most part of balancing fights, but in some instances you can knock an opponent out of nowhere with a counter punch or kick. Fights typically will be decided in the first two rounds or so, normally fights just like in real life do not go a full 3 rounds or 5 rounds for a title fight.
The sounds in the game are spot on, from the fighters celebrating to the ring announcer’s commentary. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg are present and do a pretty good job of describing the action until it becomes too fast paced and they are a move or so behind. The soundtrack in the game is pretty much all hard rock that is pretty decent until you play through 200 plus matches like I did and then you really get tired of Puddle of Mudd. The best sound clip of the game is when Rampage wins a fight and howls, classic!
Undisputed is a great mix of fast paced action and strategy fighting game, which is easy to pick up but hard to master. The game will provide many hours of career matches, online play and just good old fashioned exhibition fights with friends. This is a definite pick up for any fan of the UFC or anyone looking to get a fighting game that requires more than just button mashing to win.