One of the most anticipated titles of the year, THQ’s ‘UFC 2010 Undisputed’ punches, kicks and shoots for the takedown on consoles everywhere. But do Chuck Liddell and his Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) buddies live up to their octagon-based hype?
In all fairness, writing this review is akin to closely watching a baby through its final trimester toward birth. Only weeks earlier, a terrific preview event (link) for ‘UFC 2010 Undisputed’ (UFC 2010) enabled: a) a very close look at what was to come in finished product; likewise b) a golden opportunity for developer insights on value adds between ‘UFC 2009 Undisputed’ (UFC 2009) and the recently released sophomore year version.
Related – and in write-up of said preview event – I confessed to being both a television and console-based MMA neophyte. To remedy these oversights and in advance of UFC 2010, I absorbed several hours of UFC 2009 for the PS3 combined with a fair amount of match viewing. I do this for you, people.
UFC noob no longer and comparison data obtained, I can safely say that UFC 2010 did – in fact – cross the finish line as intended while noticeably better than its 2009 iteration.
Let me explain.
Perhaps the most glaring upgrade to UFC 2010 is its most obvious: the graphics in this game are nothing short of amazing. While 2009 was certainly pretty in its own right, 2010’s character models are simply stunning.
Live damage representations are arguably the best I’ve seen to date on a console, in specific interactions between physical manifestations (blood, bruising, and sweat) and battle dynamics. UFC fighter modeling likewise received a noticeable upgrade, with the sport’s superstars – backed a more robust roster – even prettier than in UFC 2009. By ‘prettier,’ I mean ‘exponentially greater links between pixilated greatness and on-screen kickass.’
Related, THQ’s developers touted upgrades to television style presentation and commentary, both now eerily lifelike to live MMC events. Updated cut scenes, sponsors, venues and referees add additional MMA visual flair. Simply put, these guys nailed the UFC experience. It’s eerily difficult to split hairs on where videogame and live presentation begins and ends.
Arguably most important, UFC 2010 features noticeable gameplay improvements to include a sway dynamic plus faster button press to strike timing. A trio of new fighting styles combined with even more grappling techniques round out what is a significantly more playable UFC title versus the 2009 offering. This is not to say that UFC 2009 was drunken whack-a-mole. Rather, a tale of making the already good…better.
To elaborate, reckless button mashing produces fatigued fighters…evidenced through increased sweat and labored lunges. Grappling and groundstrikes create tangible momentum shifts, as fighter tactics much change accordingly. Mirroring its real life counterpart, forcing standup fighters into ground and pound fests is a surefire recipe for quick tapout. Versus UFC 2009, clinching appears a more viable battle strategy, capable of turning the octagon tide through strategic rib strikes and accompanying transitions. I learned this lesson quickly and often. Ouch and more ouch.
Many hours in, UFC 2010’s deep engine continues to surprise in its robustness. Even sticking solely to Exhibition Mode will continuously yield new gameplay experiences, with each fighting style a unique journey into MMA tactics. The AI is a beast…in a good way. Marrying UFC 2010 to live matches (with several of the sport’s finest featured in the PS3 version I reviewed) further highlighted this pleasant reality.
This is not to say, however, that redundancy does not settle in along the way. Akin to UFC 2009, UFC 2010 heavily favors combo punch-kick strikes to heads in both Exhibition and early stages of Career Modes, with submission best left for a small number of UFC fighters and/or very carefully developed player characters. Reversal and transitions are a bit too drawn out for my liking, as it can take dozens of right stick twirls to produce even the subtlest of positioning shifts.
On the topic of Career Mode, UFC 2010 places a premium on micro-management of skills development while putting an end to growing fighter skills through the game’s easiest levels. In recognizing this cheat within UFC 2009, developers self-admittedly tethered Career Mode and advancement capabilities to selected difficulty setting. Meaning, beginner level remains at beginner level (damn it!), with possibilities for fighter growth significantly lower on easier forays than on the game’s more advanced difficulty settings. This is noticeably evident in career progression through UFC 2010’s new development fighter league.
The same constraints appear in automated versus manual training, where the latter produces faster and more customized skills advancement. While I admire this preference toward actual versus simulated advancement, a happier medium would’ve been welcome. See you in UFC 2011, I suppose.
Moreover and through a provided code (used buyers beware), a new online camp features supplements standard training camps and accompanying move development, with your fighting buddies the world over now partners in career development crime. (Editor’s Note: we were unable to attempt this mode due to release timing limitations.)
Worth noting is that my review copy – the PS3 version – featured several PS3-exclusive fighters and five memorable UFC matches. Victory in the latter produces accompanying actual footage from the event it was based on. Ring girls provide intros and outros to the playable segments, a bit cheesy but at least evidence of effort to what could’ve been a simple throw-in.
Now before this review is deemed a shameless love-fest, there’s – quite frankly – little to criticize in a title that improves on an already strong representation of a difficult to pixelate sport. ‘UFC 2010 Undisputed’ delivered as promised at its preview event, a very strong title for a somewhat newcomer to MMA, likely a stellar one for a true fan. As a self professed gaming pragmatist, this is as advertised, folks.
‘UFC 2010 Undisputed’ improves on an already impressive 2009 offering thorough additional fighting styles, an online camp mode, and updated gameplay and presentation. While a preference seems to favor standup fighters and micro-management, the title’s robust engine more than compensates. In short, ‘UFC 2010 Undisputed’ is one of the best PS3 titles of the year to date.
Reviewed by Paul Stuart | 05.25.10
- gorgeous graphics and UFC experience
- updated gameplay, fighting styles and modes
- console exclusive freebies
- preference toward standup fighting
- several similarities to ‘UFC 2009 Undisputed’
- I’m grasping at straws to generate three negatives
Similar Articles: UFC2010 Preview Event | UFC 2009: Undisputed (8.2) | UFC Undisputed 2010 PSP (8.5)