Reviewed: May 30, 2009
Released: May 19, 2009
The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is an increasingly popular mixed martial arts organization. But when it was founded in 1993 it wasn't what we see now. It didn't used to have rules as such. Well it had a few... no biting being the most restrictive. It was brutal! Of course it got popular very quickly on pay-per-view then the inevitable meddling from politicians turned it into an underground sport, which basically cut off the money flow.
So UFC reformed with some rules and official state athletic board sanctioned events. Now fighters are not allowed to kick opponents in the kidney. There are more rules of course (no grabbing the trachea, no groin attacks etc.). So now UFC is considered “civilized” and is on national tv on Spike and has high profile PPV events that even get coverage on ESPN Sports Center.
In case you can't tell, I'm not a huge fan of UFC. I've watched a handful of fights and I know someone who fights MMA. But I find it difficult to be a fan of an event that generally ends up with blood all over the floor. It just doesn't seem like much of a sport. But I'm sure that won't keep thousands from buying PPV events and this game.
UFC 2009 Undisputed is made by the same team that recently released the WWE Legends of WrestleMania. While everyone knows WWE is essentially “fake”, UFC is the real deal. UFC 2009 Undisputed is just as a real UFC event... very straightforward. The menus are simple and it's easy to understand. You'll probably want to visit the tutorial before jumping into the fights. UFC isn't just about slugging it out like other fighting games. UFC is more of a combination of wrestling and martial arts and boxing. Gone are the “no holds barred” days.
In exhibition mode you have 5 weight classes to choose from including heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, and lightweight. Lightweight has 19 fighters, welterweight has 19 fighters, middleweight has 18 fighters, light heavyweight has 22 fighters, and heavyweight has 16 fighters. A few of the fighters are in more than one weight class. So you have over 80 fighters to choose from, plus any fighters you create in the extensive “create a fighter” mode. However any fans of older UFC events will probably be disappointed. You won't find Ken Shamrock or many other popular fighters.
In Classic Fights mode you must repeat the actual events during one of 12 classic fights. For example, in the UFC 76 Forrest Griffin vs. Shogun Rua fight, you must win by rear naked choke in the 3rd round. It takes some strategy to keep the fight going that long. After selecting the fight you are treated to a highlight real of fights leading up to this one. When you duplicate the actual results, you get to watch a highlight film of the actual fight, which is saved in your unlockables folder. Unfortunately the classic fights only go back to UFC 66 to the UFC 84.
The casual gamer will probably just play standard exhibition mode. There are several other features you can explore including creating your own fighter complete with tats, nickname, and even ear damage. You can also go into career mode which for task oriented people like me, was the most fun of this game.
Online play on the 360 is much better than the PS3. The options are the same but the framerate and graphical assets are smooth and the same as playing offline. UFC has the usual ranked and unranked matches, which is fine, but I had hoped for something more like an online career mode. It's still great fun with the basic ranked matches.
The graphics in UFC 2009 Undisputed are stunning. The fighters all look and act just like the real guys. Fight venues include near perfect representations of The Pearl at the Palms, Madison Square Garden, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Red Rock Casino Resort Spa, and a UFC gym. I spent some time comparing the PS3 and 360 versions and it appears that the PS3 has slightly better shading, but just slightly.
The fighters are as authentic looking as I've seen right down to their tattoos. Even Chuck Liddell's high shoulders are accurately rendered. UFC 2009 also includes 3 real referees in Mario Yamasaki, Herb Dean, and Steve Mazzagatti.
The sound in UFC has much to be desired. The music is the usual guitar grinding with screaming vocals. However the only option for those of us who hate this kind of music is to turn down the volume in the settings. You cannot pick certain songs or add your own songs. Your gym trainer doesn't have a voice. His lips move but all we get is subtitle text on the screen which is ridiculous. This game isn't that big, there has to be plenty of room available on the disc for more audio tracks.
The event announcers also leave much to be desired. There are many repeated phrases and they only occasionally say something informative about either fighter or the actual fight. They did keep up with the action, but the announcers repeat themselves so often that the game never really has to load much in the way of creative audio.
There are 30 Achievements for 1,000 points available. There are also over 50 unlockables in equipment and training devices available. Earning an achievement isn't quite as easy as they are in most other games. Tasks range from simply winning an online fight, to winning the championship is all weight classes.
If you get into the career mode you will be addicted. Even on 'easy' mode there is a chance in every fight that you will get clocked. So getting the undefeated trophy isn't as easy as it might be in other fighting games. UFC includes an 18-page manual and a small UFC store catalog which is the first time I've seen a “sports” organization wisely use this method to reach fans.
I must admit, at first I thought UFC 2009 Undisputed was a bad game. I got mad when several times while beating the tar out of someone, they would land a haymaker and I'd be out cold on the canvas. But I've been told that can and does happen in real UFC fights. After taking the tutorial and discovering the nuances of submission wins, I found myself addicted to the career mode. I also learned that, as in life, sometimes a good strong kick to the head will get you where you want to go. This is a game any UFC fan will love.