The man mountains of the UFC return for another punch fest in UFC Undisputed 3, but after last year’s rather poor effort can THQ and Yukes satisfy the fighting fans?
Right from the start you realise that the presentation on UFC Undisputed 3 is of top quality and whilst I don’t recognize any of the fighters (due to a lack of knowledge on my part), watching YouTube clips of them in action there is little between the two which is a great accomplishment, with most characters and moves meticulously recreated for your pleasure. If it wasn’t for the lengthy loading times (even after a 15 min install) it would feel like you were watching TV, with decent commentary during fights, a huge amount of videos on offer and fighters having after match discussions, talking about their own personal highlights, plus expressing feelings on when they started out their UFC careers.
The huge roster of fighters has been split into two groups, the UFC which sports the most current combatants and Pride, a separate and now defunct league which runs on slightly different rules.
Just like in the real thing, there are hundreds of moves to learn and master, though if your idea of a move is a flaming uppercut or even a flying clothesline this may not be for you as it’s all about wearing down and submission, with the fights split into three styles of fighting; Standing punches and kicks; Clinch (grapple) helps you position your opponent and also get in a few close range punches and finally Ground moves, where you tussle around the floor, getting decent leverage for a submission move.
With so many moves available for you to use there is an unfortunate by-product which is an issue with the controls, there are just too many button combos! Punches and kicks are set to the face buttons, with you being able to alter attacks with L1 and L2, then you have high and low blocks on the R1 and R2 shoulder buttons. Finally, a load of clinch and dodge moves are assigned to Right Stick and let’s not forget about having to move your chosen fighter around the ring with the Left Stick. Before you know it your fingers are tied up and even for all its realism it can turn into a button mashing frenzy all too often.
Each fighter has a different style that you need to consider before entering the ring. Some are wrestlers, meaning you need to get in close and get your opponent to ground; Judo players will want to get the throws in and Boxers will try and keep adversaries at arm’s length, though most fights fall into a specific pattern, trade blows, grapple then hit the floor.
Once you have battered your opponent to a satisfying level and have them on the mat you can pull off a submission move which then brings up a small mini-game involving moving a highlighted bar around a hexagon, trying to cover the opponents bar; keep it over theirs for long enough for a tap out. Or if you have not got the patience just continually punch away until the referee steps in to save your opponents face from a KO.
Though it all boils down to two guys scrapping in cage there are plenty of modes to make it a bit more exciting with the solo Career Mode alone worth the money. This huge and seemingly never ending mode allows you to start as a current fighter or start from scratch, with you initially having basic body customisation options plus choosing a fighting style from the likes of wrestling, boxing or Maui Thai and also your weight division. The game will then take you through the basics with Mike Goldberg giving advice along the way on all of the options available to you and how to become an Octagon Legend.
After an initial test fight to set your difficulty you are set loose on the world. Starting you off in the WFA league, you need to defeat higher ranked fighters to start making a name for yourself. At the start of each event you can choose from a selection of opponents, each one having their own pros and cons with the higher ranked fighters earning you more CRED. Once a fight has been agreed you are then able to prepare, taking to the ring for a sparring session or the training rooms for some heavy bag, takedown or tire flip drills to name a few and with each successful session you will raise your fighters attributes. There are also Camps that you can align yourself with, teaching you new moves; different groups offer various benefits so if you are a boxer you can choose a Camp that focuses more on fighting rather than grappling. Even if you feel completely unprepared for a fight you can better your chances with a Game Plan which temporarily boosts your stats allowing for quicker take downs or be more aggressive for a quick KO. Once decided you then get in the ring for a quick sparring session, where the temporary stat boost is applied depending on how well you do.
With every successful fight you earn CRED’s on top of improving your ranking which has a few benefits, such as attracting sponsors with whom you can make deals with, which then opens more items in the shop including plenty of new clothes plus better training techniques and sparring partners.
If you ever find time to drag yourself away from the career mode there are plenty of other modes to try out with Exhibition offering a quick fight, Title mode and a Title Defence, UFC Tournaments or Pride Grand Prix Tournaments, the ability to create your own event and an Ultimate Fights mode where you perform tasks during classic wins and upsets from events like Pride Total Elimination and UFC Resolution, each one earning even more videos to watch. UFC Undisputed 3 also supports a decent selection of online modes, again offering a quick play exhibition mode, plus a fight camp to prove your worth.
Though great lengths have been made to improve on previous titles there are still some disappointing elements that tarnish this top title. I have mentioned loading times earlier and this is something that never gets any better, with long moments spent just staring at the UFC logo as you patiently wait. This however pales in comparison to the mess made of the Smart Highlight Reel. This interesting new replay mode offers the ability to create a “best of” reel of your most recent fight; a great idea but in reality a complete waste of time. The mode warns of an approx. 7 min waiting time to create a video, in reality a 2 min fight took over 16 min to create a 30 second reel, well over the average time which is a real shame as the final result was pretty cool.
I can see the appeal for UFC fans, but with UFC Undisputed 3’s approach it’s a little too realistic. If you are going to put the time into learning all of the moves, then this game will reward you well both off and online, but a casual fighting fan is going to get mauled in the ring and should stick with something more “arcade” based like the WWE or Street Fighter games.
Rating: ExcellentReview Policy(Version tested: PS3)
UFC Undisputed 3 is released on February 17, 2012 alongside for PS3 and Xbox 360.