Last year’s UFC: Undisputed was a solid entry into this generation of hardware for the world’s premiere MMA company. A polished game engine and impressive presentation combined with the UFC’s surge in popularity to make a sales hit for publisher THQ.
As good as the original Undisputed was, there were a few niggling complaints. Complaints that would surely be fixed in the inevitable sequel. So now that UFC Undisputed 2010 has arrived it begs the question, is this a by-the-numbers yearly update or a sequel worthy of purchase?
Much like they do with the Smackdown vs Raw games, developer Yukes has really gone to town to provide ultra slick, TV style presentation from the main menu through to the arenas themselves. Everything looks so authentic, from the camera angles and on-screen graphics to the little mannerisms of ring announcer Bruce Buffer. The pre-bout build up really does capture that big fight feel that is synonymous with UFC Pay Per View events .
So it looks as sexy as Arianny Celeste in a bikini, but if the combat isn’t up to scratch then it’ll all be rather shallow. Thankfully UFC 2010 builds on the solid foundations established previously and enhances the areas where an enhancement was needed. This is a stunningly deep combat engine. So many more new movements, transitions and submissions are there to keep even the most knowledgeable MMA fans satisfied.
To become an Octagon legend will take time though. This is not a button masher in any way, considered striking and conservation of stamina are absolutely key to taking on the big names on the higher difficulties. The game’s tutorial mode is a comprehensive learning tool and an absolute must for anybody new to the series, in fact, even the most experienced players should have a quick blast through the tutorial to get acquainted with the new features.
So now you’re comfortable with the controls, had a few knockout wins in exhibition and feel like you’re ready to take on something more, well career mode is the next step. Career, quite predictably, is all about creating your own fighter from scratch and working your way up the mma ladder to the UFC title. One gripe I had with last year’s game was the fighter creation tools, namely in trying to create a unique fighter. Sadly I didn’t find this version much better. I still felt creatively stifled and most of my fighters all kind of looked the same. Disappointing, but hardly a deal breaker.
The amount of new features in Career Mode is notable. While there are few huge improvements there are plenty small tweaks that improve the experience. Juggling training camps, sparring sessions, media commitments and ample rest time before each fight is key to how your fighter performs. After a while this does become a tad tedious but never enough to completely halt progress.
Gamers who strive for the perfect run through a game (no lives lost etc.) will need to adjust expectations for their fighter’s career, rule 1: you can and will lose. There were some fights (Demian Maia, I’m looking at you) that no matter what I seemed to do, I would end up on the end of a submission or a knockout. It often feels like you’re being set up to lose in these matches. Frustrations aside, it is somewhat realistic that you can’t go a whole career undefeated, but there must be a better way to go about it.
Outside of the main career there are a few other modes available too: Title, Tournament, Event and Ultimate Fights. Title mode is a series of fights before the title fight for your chosen fighter, throwaway stuff that will entertain for a few hours at the most. Tournament is just what it says on the tin and the best mode for a quick multiplayer fix with friends, probably one for when you’re throwing that UFC 116 viewing party. Event mode allows you to become Dana White and put together your ultimate UFC card, or load a pre-made event and play it. THQ have promised the ability to download more cards as they happen, as of yet there aren’t any up for download.
Ultimate Fights mode returns from the previous game to this year’s instalment, with some marked improvements. Re-enacting classic bouts from past UFC events is awesome, especially as each is accompanied by always excellent pre-fight video packages. Winning these fights and meeting the set criteria unlocks more videos to view at your leisure. All in all, this mode is probably the biggest success of Undisputed 2010.
THQ have beefed up the multiplayer portion of the game and the presence of online fight camps, tournaments and rankings will be music to the ears of those who like to show off online. The fight camps are a novel idea, allowing players to create a custom banner and fight for their team’s pride. It adds a little more to the game even if it is just a glorified clan. There were still some issues with searching for a match but nothing as frustrating as what I experienced last year. There have been rumblings from players having problems searching for matches, I did find myself waiting for a few minutes to find a match but not anything too terrible.
One major gripe with the online mode is the timing of counters and submissions. Any kind of lag will throw off your timing and can lead to matches where blind luck determines who will weave safely and who eats fist. The nuances of the submission system learned in single player are virtually redundant with lag, meaning submissions should only really be attempted in the final round of a fight, hardly ideal in a big fight. It's sad that the effort put into the online mode is almost completely spoiled by the lag that can occur.
There are some differences between the 360 and PS3 versions of the game, most notably the exclusive classic UFC fighters each game has. In addition, the PS3 also has some exclusive movies such as St Pierre vs Penn II and Mir vs Lesnar from UFC 100. There’s also the amazing Griffin vs Bonnar fight from the Ultimate Fighter that is a must-see. When choosing a version, ultimately it will probably come down to what controller you prefer to play the game with, I found the 360’s analog sticks a little easier to perform submissions and transitions with, but not enough to make a PS3 purchase a regret.
UFC Undisputed 2010 isn’t a huge improvement over its predecessor, but with such a solid debut title all Yukes had to do was not screw up and they’d have a good game. If you’re serious about your UFC, then this is a must-buy simply for the rosters and Ultimate Fights mode. For those on the fence, it may be best to pick up last year’s instalment on the cheap and then see about upgrading at a later date, there really isn't all that much new here to make it worth the price. If this game was an Octagon fighter, it would be in about the title hunt, but sadly come up short when it came to a chance at greatness.