Reviewed: June 3, 2010
Released: May 25, 2010
Ultimate Fighting Championship (Mixed Martial Arts) has come a long way very quickly. In just a couple years, UFC has become one of the most popular arena sports ever. I wasn't really aware of this until I recently attended a UFC event in Las Vegas. I got to meet a few of the fighters and when I got home I wanted to see them fight in one of the big Pay-per-view events. I'm not about to pay $50 on DirecTV so I got some friends together and we went to a bar. Well, we tried to go to a bar. Every bar showing the event was packed. I don't mean we couldn't find a seat, I mean they were standing room only and we couldn't even find a place to stand. I've been to a lot of sports events at bars from NFL games to World Cup Soccer. This certainly rivals the crowds I've seen watching World Cup games. It's more popular than boxing. |
UFC's Dana White is rolling in money. Part of White's genius is he uses media to the maximum to push his brand. Twice a month there are PPV events, a week after the fight there is a Blu-Ray version available on the UFC website. There are action figures, a magazine, and there is even coverage on ESPN... and there is this videogame.
When I first got UFC Undisputed 2010 I figured it would be a rehash of last years game and not worth playing. I couldn't have been more wrong. The improvements are too numerous to review. All the problems I had with UFC 2009 have been addressed.
The framerate is on par with any sports game. Last year I noticed that the combos and particularly the ground game of submissions seemed somewhat 'canned' in other words they seemed preprogrammed and had some framerate issues. In UFC Undisputed 2010 the combos are unchained thereby allowing greater creativity for the player. All attacks, sways, shoots and other stances flow seamlessly into one another.
The create-a-fighter mode also has been significantly improved. In UFC 2009 you were given predefined locations for tattoos and logos could be placed. In 2010, THQ has implemented a drag and drop system where you can place graphics anywhere. Included in 2010 are 77 tat images, 23 tribal tats, 22 flags, and 12 scars. For those really into customization, the fighter nicknames have gone from 10 to 50, and THQ has added support for 100 first and last names. Picking from those names will allow announcer Bruce Buffer to realistically voice the fights. You can also put in other names but they will not be announced. New to UFC 2010 you can also pick from 5 different voice types for your fighter to be used in interviews in career mode.
In probably the biggest area where THQ has listened to gamers, the Career Mode has been reworked to be more realistic and competitive than last year. The Career Mode has expanded from 7 years to a more realistic 12 years. Over that time frame players can expect to compete in 50 to 60 fights, nearly double last years limit.
THQ has also introduced a 'stat decay system' where you have to train to keep your stats up. But if you don't balance your training, some of your stats will decrease. So the proper balance of working on skills, attributes and techniques is vital to keep your fighter in prime shape for a title shot. When you start out your career you compete in 5 amateur fights before moving up to professional rank. You can use these fights to assess your skill level. THQ has implemented a sort of cheat fix where the difficulty level you choose will effect the amount of points you gain toward stat increases. So sandbaggers won't be so inclined to ramp up their stats quickly in rookie mode. It's a lot tougher to be good at UFC Undisputed 2010.
You start out as an amateur but quickly move up to WFA (World Fighting Alliance). This allows you to develop your fighter. Unlike 2009, you are not guaranteed an offer to fight in UFC events. You have to earn it. Once you win some fights in convincing fashion, Dana White and UFC might make you an offer. Then you compete on Ultimate Fight Night undercards hoping to make your way to the Main Card or Main Event. If you continue to do well you might be offered a spot in a Pay-per-view event and maybe even a shot at the title.
Additionally in the career mode you have to navigate your fighters story. Based on your results you unlock sponsors. The more popular you are the better your sponsorships. During post fight interviews you are given a choice of response (similar to what you see in Mass Effect). Your popularity with fans, other fighters, and sponsors is affected by your response.
Online play has improved from last year as well. There are of course the usual Exhibition and Ranked fights. But the real fun is in online fight camps. Similar to what you would see in FPS games, online fight camps are similar to clans. You can join or create a camp and have your friends fight under your banner. Your matches count toward your camp's Leaderboard rankings. You can even train your Career Mode fighter to earn my CRED and unlock milestones for your camp.
Classic Fights Mode from UFC 2009 has been evolved to Ultimate Fights Mode allowing players to relive some of the more memorable fights in UFC history. The main difference from last year is in 2010 there are Fight Categories and Multiple Challenges for each fight. You can also fight as the spoiler (the guy who lost in the real fight), which unlocks additional rewards. When you complete all the challenges, you unlock a montage recap of the actual fight.
For owners of both next-gen consoles, the PlayStation 3 has several bonus items not available to Xbox users, which may sway your purchase decision. PS3 owners get 5 additional classic fights to play and 5 video highlights of real fights. There are also 3 additional fighters available to PS3 that are not on Xbox. I asked the developers about the possibility of DLC downloads in the future for Xbox and was told it is possible to do so but there was no decision made yet.
The roster of fighters has also greatly increased from 41 to over 100 (including those in the create-a-fighter system). The UFC fighters and rankings in UFC Undisputed 2010 are as follows:
The graphics in UFC Undisputed 2010 have also undergone a major upgrade. Gone are the cheesy arcade style menus from last year. In 2010 we get nearly the same graphical treatment that we see on PPV events. UFC Undisputed 2010 sports a complete revamping of the look and feel of the game, matching the slick animations, wipes and presentation of a real UFC broadcast.
The audio in UFC Undisputed 2010 has been improved considerably but there is still a long ways to go. I found that the commentary during fights was significantly improved. The announcers talk more about your fighter and less about the competition so it sounds much more realistic. The additional audio cues during career mode are a welcome addition, however the questions and answers are repetitive and don't seem to have a tangible impact on the fighter.
UFC Undisputed 2010 has 36 achievements available for a total of 1,000 gamer score points. Almost half of the achievements must be won playing on Xbox Live. So those of you getting a used version take heed: UFC Undisputed 2010 is the first sports game from THQ using the code scheme (also being used by EA). When you buy the game new, the manual has a unique code you have to redeem on Xbox Live to download the online portion of the game. Those of you buying it used, or borrowing it from a friend, or renting it will have to pay 400 Microsoft Points to download the online portion of the game.
Is it worth 400 Microsoft Points? Surprisingly, yes it is worth it. The online portion adds significant value to the game. However I don't like the direction this is going. I can't take the game to my friends house to play online amongst other things. The scheme is limiting for the end user, but I'm sure they'll rake in record profits as a result so we best get used to this kind of added content.
The presentation of UFC Undisputed 2010 is one of the biggest improvements. THQ has used the presentation assets from actual UFC events to create a television broadcast quality that rivals any sports title. In career mode, MMA trainer Marc Laimon is your coach. You will be treated to story based cutscenes with your fighter and various UFC personalities. Dana White stops by your dressing room, Joe Rogan hosts the interviews, and Rachelle Leah hosts UFC Up Close. Also new this year is the ability to watch other fights and check out your future competition.
THQ has set the bar incredibly high for EA's upcoming MMA game. UFC Undisputed 2010 is probably the best fighting game ever made. The massive improvement over last years game is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Yukes development team.