So you want to be a fighter...
The success of last year's UFC 2009 Undsiputed was something of surprise. Not that the game itself was lacking: in fact, its thoughtful, exciting representation of mixed martial arts was well-realised and enjoyable. But many doubted the game could make much of a splash in the realistic fighting genre, dominated by heavyweights such as EA's Fight Night and Yuke's own vast numbers of wrestling titles.
However, sales of the game were sufficient to not only inspire this sequel, UFC 2010 Undisputed, but also to turn the opinion of EA the giant publisher who had previously turned down the UFC's offer to make an MMA title.
Now, as EA's own MMA title nears release, Yuke's puts out its own sequel, making full use of the license that EA shunned by including over 100 fighters from around the globe. Despite the WWE presentation, all 20 foot-high gold lettering, lithe female assistants and bombastic hip-hop soundtrack, the underlying sport is brutal and uninterested in showy entertainment.
Kick, Punch, it's all in the Mind
Rather, two men trained with a mixture of different combat styles from Tae Kwon Do to Karate to boxing to Brazilian Ju Jitsu face off against one another with one aim: to see who can make the other unconscious first. For that reason the game is unpredictable and reactive: for every three bout match featuring a merry-go-round of roundhouse kicks, rapid fire punches and complicated transition on the mat, there's a match that ends in a knock out three punches in thanks to a well-timed sway and counter.
Combat in UFC Undisputed 2010 takes place either standing or on the ground. As in Tekken, each of the face buttons controls a different limb. By holding down the left trigger or bumped you can add modifiers to these stock punches and kicks, which can all be strung into combos. Blocks are either high, to cover your face, or low to protect your torso.
However, it's in the reversals and counters that most of the technical play occurs. Flicking the right analogue stick will cause your fighter to grab hold of an incoming opponent's punch of kick, allowing that to then be turned into a throw to the mat, or a clinch. When on the ground the game style changes to wrestling, with a series of chess-like transitions between the two combatants as they vie for a dominant position. Manoeuvre yourself into an advantageous hold and you'll be able to go for a submission hold, which, if maintained will cause your opponent to tap out.
As well as being careful to manage your character's health, you'll also need to watch their stamina, which quickly depletes with repeated moves and whiffed attacks. You'll have to quickly learn the rhythm of attack and recovery else risk opening yourself up to a stun from a well-timed opponent's hit. It's a smart system that discourages button mashing and asks that players consider every strike carefully before wading in
Fight for your Right
A slew of game modes flesh out the package, with the main meat of the experience to be found in the expansive career mode. Here you create a fighter and take them on the long road through the amateur circuit through the World Fighting Alliance and into the UFC itself. While you set your initial character's setting at first touch - specifying their name, weight, height and lead fist - it's not until you start training in between your scheduled fights that you begin to diversify their moves.
Different martial arts houses (based on real life outfits) can be visited, each one offering a set of moves, which can be learned and incorporated into your fighter's palette of moves. By mixing and matching moves pulled from karate, judo, Brazilian ju-jitsu, Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai and Sambo your fighter has the potential to become a multi-discipline fighter, the perfect embodiment of the mixed martial arts approach.
Career mode demonstrates the huge variety of different fighting styles on offer in UFC 2010, and with over 100 characters to play as, and some of the best commentary seen in any videogame, the game is a dream package for the MMA aficionado. There are rough edges such as the long load times, convoluted menu system and the need to enter a code if you want to access the multiplayer features (or buy a new one if you bought the game second hand).
But despite this, UFC Undisputed 2010 is the best entry to the small MMA genre at this point, exciting, diverse and full to the brim with knock out moments.
- Comprehensive roster.
- Exciting, unpredictable matches.
- Deep fighter customisation.
- Rough edges.
- Convoluted menus.
- Long loading.