Mixed Martial Arts has become a big sporting event in recent years, overtaking boxing as the most popular combat sport. Yet many people still don't know much about the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and fewer still know about all the nuances of the sport. That's where UFC Undisputed 3 comes in, packing a ferocious punch. Everything you could ever want to know about mixed martial arts is included in this incredibly detailed simulation and no matter what your comfort level with UFC is, you are going to enjoy what's offered here.
There is a lot to take in to understand UFC Undisputed 3 and it might scare off newcomers. But developer Yuke's have done their best to indoctrinate new players into the game with a very thorough video tutorial, telling you exactly how to make each move, from strikes to combos to sways to submissions, through the required button combinations with accompanying video of the results. A new Amateur control method has also been added to make it easier for new players to perform certain moves such as transitioning between different fighting stances. Even with all this, there's still a daunting amount of information that will be thrown at you and you'll likely not understand everything right away. But it certainly won't be because the game didn't give its best effort to ease you into it. Commit to the tutorial and the rest of the game will become more enjoyable as a result.
Once the controls are understood, the fights begin. Bouts are very strategic; launching your attacks at the right time while keeping your body defended from the opponent's onslaught is vital to survival. With all of the different maneuvers at your disposal, this can be handled in a multitude of ways, such as punching and comboing on offense, swaying to avoid blows, transitioning between standing and ground fighting, and putting your opponent into a painful submission. While fighting, you'll experience the beauty of the game's graphics, depicting the struggle for survival so accurately you might think the fight is real. Over the cheers of the fans, you can even hear your trainer give you advice on what you're doing right and wrong and what you should try doing next. The trainer's advice can be very useful in a game where it's easy to forget every possible move you can make. All of this makes the overall experience amazing.
This year's edition of the game adds in the now-defunct PRIDE fighting series. PRIDE matches are different because they encourage more brutality, such as soccer kicks and stomping downed opponents in the head. These ultra violent moves are not allowed in UFC matches, only PRIDE matches, so you'll have to adjust your strategy accordingly depending on which rule set you're fighting by.
Many real-life fighters from both UFC and PRIDE are playable in UFC Undisputed 3. Although a few are missing due to licensing issues, the roster is still enormous and you'll surely find someone you enjoy playing as, whether you like their real-life selves or just their fighting style.
Not interested in the fighter roster? Create your own fighter and take on the Career mode, where you rise up the ranks from the dregs to the ultimate champion. Previous games have relied a lot on stat tracking and various menus but UFC Undisputed 3 has toned that down while adding in training exercises that you can play through. As you progress through career mode, many memories will be created and the in-game commentary will adapt to your progress. If you suffer a hard loss in a critical match, you can bet that the commentators will bring it up to rub salt in the wound. Your career promises to be long but entertaining and reaching the top of the mountain will create a sense of pride that other video games find hard to match.
There's still plenty more, however. Fight through Title mode's numerous fights to win a championship belt, or go through the long and arduous task of 100 battles to defend your belt in Title Defense. This mode is a bit problematic because it's impossible to save during the grind, so it will take several hours to complete. It is a marathon, not a sprint; you'll need a lot of time to progress through it. Ultimate Fights asks you to recreate famous moments in UFC history, giving you a script of what happened in real life and expecting you to make it happen in-game. Certainly it will thrill those who are already fans of UFC.
Online multiplayer works well, though there were some occasional disconnect issues (THQ has said that they're addressing the problem). It includes Quick matches and Custom matches as you might expect, but there are also Fight Camps which act similarly to clans. Also, if you're not prepared, you're likely to get beat down. I learned that the hard way. Be careful if you buy this game used, because the game requires an online pass to access online features, which only comes included with new copies. Local multiplayer is also included.
UFC Undisputed 3 is not just the best MMA game on the market today. It's so detailed, lovingly crafted and accessible that it can attract both the hardcore mixed martial arts fan and the newcomer who wants to know what this MMA craze is all about. There is so much to enjoy in this package, for people of various levels of UFC fandom, that even those who are on the fence should try UFC Undisputed 3; they may just find themselves a new passion.
This review is based on a retail copy of UFC Undisputed 3 for the PlayStation 3, provided by the publisher.