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They are modern day gladiators as fans cheer for knockout blows and bone breaking submissions. It is the fastest growing sport in America and is wowing fans with both the technical precision and sheer brutality its athletes need in order to just be competitive, never mind to try to reach superstar status. Of course, I am talking about MMA and its premiere league, the UFC. As with every sport in modern America though, you haven’t really made the full impact your capable of on the popular culture until you have a successful video game franchise. With that, I present to you the second video game installment of the UFC: UFC Undisputed 2010 from THQ.
The first thing you notice as soon as you pop in UFC Undisputed 2010 are the near-flawless graphics. Accurate facial designs and tattoos of every UFC fighter through every division makes you feel as if you are watching a live Pay-Per-View event at times. Cuts gushing open, blood splattering and staining the canvas, and bruised ribs shine as highlights of a great visual package. Add in live movies of the UFC ring girls (I love Arianny Celeste) introducing the Classic Matches mode and the game is as beautiful as all those girls.
The audio is spectacular as well. Great, fluid play-by-play and analysis by Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan that even takes your previous matches into account when commenting, something no other sports game really does. Include Bruce Buffer as the ring announcer and quality audio clips from every fighter for pre- and post-match interviews, including UFC President Dana White, and the audio is well played all around.
As with every other sports sim, the storyline is really determined by the results of your own play as you try to write your own story in career mode. If you keep winning, you’ll get title shots and be able to change weight classes and maybe even become a hall-of-famer. If you keep losing, you’ll wallow in the depths of the unknown and remain a nobody.
The biggest questions I had with UFC Undisputed 2010 came with the decisions made about gameplay. I understand how difficult MMA is. It’s not something you can just pick up and play. You can’t just go outside, tape up your ankles, and start trying to choke out your brother whereas most other sports you just need a ball. Video games though should be something you can just pick up and play and you cannot do that at all with this game. The tutorial is something you’ll probably need to go through three or four times before you can even begin to understand how to perform basic techniques like throws and submission maneuvers and the amount of countering down by the computer can become frustrating even on easier game modes. If you don’t put your time in to learn the basic moves this will turn into a old school button masher for you very quickly.
This lack of pick up and play is a tremendous negative in terms of trying to draw in casual fans. The hardcore fans though will appreciate the work that has to go into making your created fighter the best he can be. The deep, detailed career mode that can follow you from being a scrub to a superstar, including what sponsors take an interest in you as you customize your own gear, is probably the greatest individual career mode I’ve ever seen in a sports game. Include sim modes where you can use an already existing fighter, ranging from Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir to Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and BJ Penn, to go after their respective weight classes’ title, to a gauntlet like title defense mode where you have to whittle away twelve competitors in a row and there is enough depth to this game to keep the hardcore fan coming back. But there’s even more! The Classic Matches mode where you relive and, in some cases, rewrite classic UFC matches to earn customization rewards, gives you a rarely seen total amount of depth from a fighting game.
And you can’t forget about the online play. Not only can you take your favorite fighters, real or created, up against other people, you can even join or start your own MMA camp. You can invite your friends to train with you and hone your skills for online play as you try to let people know that you are not only the ultimate fighter, you’re the ultimate trainer as well.
After devoting much of my Memorial Day weekend to this game, I can say that if you are a fan of the UFC, you’re going to love this game. If not, the difficult control schemes could leave you frustrated enough that you might not want to pick it up again, even with the glowing positives that you’ll notice from the second you get to the title screen. If you are on the fence about this game, not being able to just pick up and play is a big enough negative that might make you want to rent this before you make it a full-blown purchase.
UFC Undisputed 2010 is available now for PS3, Xbox 360, and PSP.