GAME NAME: UFC Undisputed 3
RELEASE DATE(S): 17 February 2012
The UFC Undisputed franchise launched with two swift jabs in 2009 and 2010 – perhaps too swift as the 2010 sequel saw very little in the way of improvement over the critically acclaimed launch title. THQ promised to remedy this by not releasing annual entries to the franchise in an attempt to avoid franchise fatigue and the inevitable sales slump that goes hand-in-hand with it. The philosophy has definitely paid off as UFC Undisputed 3 proves to be an impressive MMA fighter, honed and toned to near-perfection by the YUKEs Co. development team.
Featuring more than 150 fighters from both UFC and Pride, Undisputed 3 is a title packed to the brim with content. The addition of Pride means that in some instances you’ll be able to play as the same fighter as your opponent if they featured in both UFC and Pride. The combatants may be the same person but they will be from different eras, complete with changes to the stats and in-game models to differentiate between the two versions.
Other more noticeable changes are the Highlight Reels – a feature that lets you automatically save highlights from up to 50 fights in order to create a personalized highlight reel and upload those videos to YouTube. A new submission system, personalized fighter entrances and the option to take an existing fighter through career mode make up the remainder of the alterations. While these changes, along with crisper looking visuals, may not seem like a whole lot the most important changes are not of the aesthetic variety.
It’s the smaller changes to the gameplay that’s the biggest hitter here, offering subtle nuances that, at simulation level, offer deep, strategic gameplay. Button mash, and you’ll lose. More than ever, this latest entry is the closest you’ll currently get in polygon form to experiencing the tactical think-on-your-feet mentality these fighters need to apply for their fights. It’s a constant exercise in timing, gauging an opening and countering kicks and punches.
Playing with simulation energy means fighters get gassed more easily and your losses are never cheap – if you lose it will more often than not be either a mistake in your approach, or a lapse in concentration. All the additions to the gameplay, from the reworked sway mechanism that allows you to sway against the cage or on the ground to the leg kick TKO’s and the removal of auto-block, make for an incredibly engrossing and demanding experience that can easily jump from ecstasy to agony within the space of a single round. Clinches have also been reworked, translating into more options – whether against the cage or on the floor – to reverse a clinch, allowing for some much needed breathing space with which to hit your opponent.
Not all is perfect though. While the new submission system is definitely an improvement over the 2010 model, a more tactical approach to executing a successful submission would be preferred rather than the “race-around-the-Octagon” mini-game it currently triggers. The load times are another blemish. Jumping around between menus, training areas and matches will often test your patience.
Training is again hit-or-miss, depending on the training event, but these can be simulated even though the actual results might offer a slightly smaller increase in your statistics. And as at the time of writing this the online multiplayer has been less than stellar, with matches constantly being disconnected – a problem that can hopefully be easily remedied with a patch.
But in the end UFC Undisputed 3 is such a triumph in the areas that matter that you’ll easily forgive these missteps. Its leave of absence proved to be essential, a sabbatical where it has been doing anything but resting on its laurels, culminating in a crunching knock-out to the competition.