The Ultimate Fighting brand has taken a lot of turns over years from its conception in 1993, to its current status in 2009. Even though some question the UFC's stand as the number on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) orginzation in the world, it is hard to argue with the fact that the UFC has never been more popular. As it stands UFC is on top of MMA world which makes it the perfect opportunity for THQ to launch a Ultimate Fighting game. Featuring everything fans have come to love about the highly competitive sport, UFC 2009: Undisputed is looking to be the on top of the gaming world as the premier fighting game. To help promote the game THQ and UFC sent us an invitation to visit Montreal, Quebec, Canada to get some hands-on time with THQ's upcoming release. Along with the associated events with the game, THQ and UFC have made arrangements to treat the selected press to UFC 97: Redemption Live at the Montreal Canadian's home, the Bell Centre.
Starting the weekend off reporters gathered in the Bell Centre’s 9-4-10 restaurant for a presentation of UFC 2009: Undisputed. The presentation started off with producer Neven Dravinski demonstrating the in-and-outs of the upcoming game featuring the demo builds that will be available in the next few days. The demo featured a small look into the character statistics section, and a match between UFC veteran Chuck “Iceman” Liddell and his Redemption opponent, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
In this presentation, Neven explained how UFC Undisputed focuses its combat in two directions, the stand-up game, or striking game, to the ground-and-pound, ground submission game. The combat is set to be deeper then your average fighting game by moving beyond the punches simply punching and kicking to incorporate all the different styles of fighting that make up the dynamic UFC roster. The challenge with having a dynamic roster of considerable size, talent, and fighting styles, along with the multi-oriented combat is creating a solid gameplay mechanic and control scheme... and THQ steps up with an interesting, creative solution.
UFC 2009: Undisputed handles the diversity of the UFC roster by incorporating a innovative analog thumbstick control for the ground game, and the simple face-button outline for the strikers. The control scheme was balanced out to capture the feel and momentum of battling on the ground and the quick motions of standing up battles. Grappling and takedowns require the player to rotate the analog stick to jostle for the upper hand on the mat, slipping in and out of each others grip to land some devastating shots, or make them tap out for a submission win. The decision to use the analog stick to control part of the action was done to match the real-life dynamics of a UFC bout. By allowing the player to get a sense of motion while rotating the analog stick, they will be able to "feel" the game in a more realistic manor.
The natural extension control scheme is helped out by behind the scenes calculations that take the in-game maneuvers, the fighters multi-attribute statistics, and the distance and positioning between the two fighters. Undisputed tallies up all this data and relays into what you see on the screen. Bringing in all these factors for ever single move your fighter does makes turns UFC Undisputed into a tactical game as much as a straight-up fighter. Besides wildly attacking your opponent you will have to worry about your own spot in the action and your fighters fatigue level. The approach should be taken that "every punch matters", and depending on the magic of the match, it’s quite easy to throw out that one knockout move that wins you victory. This makes UFC Undisputed thinking man's fighter that perfectly aligns with the real sport. UFC 2009: Undisputed also gives chance a factoring role which matches the UFC's unpredictable nature.
Capturing the appearance of the sport was important to THQ, as Neven explains why Undisputed by default runs without the HUB. This is done in the hopes that it can make the player become more methodical as they learn how to think and feel like a real fighter. You have to watch for physical signs of damage and fatigue on yourself and the opponent as you look for opportunities inside of the ring. The announcers will also help you out by giving you clues to the status of the fight. If you’re can’t hit and knockout blow, or make your opponent tap out, the winning decision comes by the way of the judges. Speaking of judges, Undisputed has all the real talent that make up the sport from the official refs, to the "physics" of the ring-girls. This means commentary will be handled by Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, and Neven explained how the commentary was approached by inputted it into the game in real-time by calling virtual matches. This was done to make the commentary have more of a natural flow, one problem that can hit up a lot of sports titles.
Aside from the in-game mechanics, the online mode was breezed over, and unfortunately sounds like it will be a bare-bones affair with the standard exhibition run only. This is a little disappointing, but in their first run other having the main mechanics nailed is much more important. UFC Undisputed's create-a-fighter mode sounds more promising that is filled with lots of options and statistics to tweak. Lastly, No major details where announced about the career mode, I assume they are setting it up for big things with the standard work up the ranks story.
Finishing up the press conference was an in prompted multiplayer game match between UFC president Dana White and Welterweight Champion George St-Pierre (GSP). Dana White spoke about how he was the games current champion, and George in typical fashion humbly stepped up to take on White in this one-on-one encounter. In what probably would mirror a real-life fight between the two the hometown hero GSP took out Dana White with a knockout blow. It was a good moment that gave a little taste of what the next night would consist of. Although GSP wasn’t fighting in UFC 97 it was good to see him out to promote the UFC brand, and THQ’s upcoming game. Expect to see a lot of GSP as he is featured on the cover of Canadian sold copies of UFC 2009 Undisputed.