Reviewed: June 21, 2003
Released: March 20, 2003
Being a game reviewer that specializes in sports games means you get (notice I didnít say ďhaveĒ) to play games that you normally would never play otherwise. While I having nothing against the UFC, Iím just not a huge fan of fighting in general, unless a cat fight happens to break out at the bar one night or they bring in the inflatable pool full of lime Jell-O for some impromptu wrestling.
Thatís not to say I am totally unfamiliar with the genre. I played Rocky on the Xbox last year and after a few tequila shots Iíve been known to dabble in some WWF titles with friends, but I donít actively seek out or play these types of games. Keep this in mind while reading the following review even though I think Iím being pretty fair.
UFC: Tapout 2 takes "real fighting" to the next round with an all new, realistic look and feel mixing all the full contact violence and intensity found in the Octagon. This is the sequel to last years UFC title that claims to offer substantial improvements in fighting and visuals and is still the only real sanctioned fighting game available for the Xbox.
After playing UFC: Tapout 2 for nearly 20 hours, both alone and with a group of friends, I have an all-new respect for the sport and the genre. Unlike WWF, the UFC is real, not some choreographed dance recital that has been predetermined by agents and managers weeks before the match. The fighters in the UFC hit and hit hard. They kick and grab and chock and flip and pummel each other into bruised and bloody meat sacks until you either knock them out or tap them out.
This style of fighting translates to a videogame quite smoothly blending elements of wrestling, boxing, and even the more widely available martial arts fighters. You have your primary fighting controls that translate into a variety of combos and moves that you can unleash on your opponents.
I havenít intentionally watched a lot of UFC fights on TV but I do work in a sports bar, so a few fights have sneaked into my peripheral vision from time to time. I noticed that the fights in Tapout 2 donít seem to last nearly as long as those on TV. In fact, most fights are so fast and furious they are over before the first round. This is great if you want to blaze through a career in record time, but I found it hard to develop a repertoire of moves in such short spurts of gameplay.
Tapout 2 includes more than 35 real UFC fighters, the most mixed martial arts brawlers in any UFC game to date, including UFC stalwarts Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, and B.J. Penn. Several new fighters, such as current UFC Middleweight Champion Murilo Bustamante will also be making their debut in UFC: Tapout 2. With improved AI, fighters will behave even closer to their real life counterparts, use more attack combos and grappling, use more counter and reverse moves, and be much more aggressive overall than in the previous version.
The Career Mode has been expanded from last yearís version (so Iím told), allowing players to create their own fighters from scratch, using a wide variety of body types, clothing, faces and hairstyles. Through training and sparring against computer-controlled opponents, players will develop an ever-increasing repertoire of moves and abilities. While I cannot make any direct comparisons to last yearís UFC title I can say that the character creation in Tapout 2 is very nice and surpasses most wrestling games I have played.
Tournament Mode is probably the best mode in Tapout 2. This is where up to eight human and/or computer-controlled fighters battle in an open weight free for all. This makes a great party game.
Other modes are also included like your standard Arcade, Legend, Exhibition, Training, and Championship modes. The Legend mode is quite challenging as it pits your fighter against everyone else in the UFC.
Tapout 2 is a surprisingly solid game but I found the entire experience rather uninspiring. Perhaps it is the presentation, or rather lack thereof. UFC certainly doesnít aspire to the same level of pre-match spectacle and the rings and crowds look more like a scene from Fight Club. I guess the UFC is for real men while the WWF is for the kids and Iím just a kid at heart.
Tapout 2 features a brand new, redesigned model and animation system resulting in fighter models with more points of articulation, and movements that appear more fluid and life-like thanks to real-time mesh deformation - when players move and flex their muscles, you'll see the skin move and ripple with them.
I did notice some nagging clipping issues where fighters will ďmeltĒ into each other. There are also some collision problems where you are landing punches when there is enough visible room to fit the ref between you. And since these guys are ďreallyĒ fighting why arenít we seeing ďreal damageĒ. Theyíve already done it in Rocky and Tao Feng.
The rings are pretty boring with all fights taking place in nearly identical octagons. The crowd animation is really cool and even a bit distraction it looks so real. The animation is very fluid and the lighting is really good, although the environments are dark, perhaps to accentuate the lighting effects. I wasnít too enthused about the menu screens or the character creation screens; they just seemed a bit primitive.
The voices are pretty decent for what little talking there is. For the most part your ears are treated to grunts and groans and the sound of punches and bodies hitting the mat. The crowd is disappointing as they offer a constant din rather than cuing to any of the action taking place. They donít seem to react to any particular fighter like they do in the WWF.
I enjoy rock and heavy metal so the soundtrack included with the game was pretty good, but if you donít like it or you get tired of it you can use custom soundtracks. This is always a welcome option on the Xbox.
There are plenty of modes and plenty of fighters to keep you busy for months assuming you enjoy the game in the first place. If you arenít sure trying renting it, but know that if you do like it there is way too much content and unlockable bonuses to complete this game in a normal rental period.
From what I can tell, there is not enough new stuff here to warrant a purchase if you already have the first game. Either hang back and wait for it to hit the budget bins or better yet, wait for UFC: Tapout 3. Hopefully there will be more substantial improvements and Xbox Live support.
I had a good time playing UFC: Tapout 2. It was definitely more fun playing with a rowdy group of guys and the matches seemed to last longer the more we drank. The solo modes are challenging and fun and you have the satisfaction of generating your own character with a nice creation engine. If you enjoy UFC on TV and donít already have the first version then I can easily recommend this title to you.