I’ll fully disclose that I have not watched a fight in about 10 years, so my memory of the UFC is closer to the movie Bloodsport than the refined romp in the octagon it has become. UFC Undisputed 3 is THQ’s latest installment in the franchise and they certainly took their time to let this one cook until it was just right. I have dabbled in the UFC games here and there to see how they hold up against the latest WWE or fighting game and I have not been impressed up until now. The previous games suffered from a steep learning curve and confusing control schemes which made the whole experience very difficult to get into, but Undisputed 3 has fixed many of the issues that has plagued the series up until now. UFC Undisputed 3 is by far the most accessible and polished ultimate fighting game that I have played.
It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a beginner or a seasoned veteran, because the first thing you will do is pick between the amateur or pro control scheme. These pertain to how complicated you want your grappling controls to be, with the pro giving you more precision and the amateur simplifying things. This major overhaul in the submission system is one of the best changes to the UFC games in years. No longer are you furiously spinning your analog stick in a Mario-party fashion when you are trying to submit your opponent with one of the many new holds. When a submission is engaged, mini game appears on screen and your success depends on both your fighter’s skill level and your aptitude in said mini game. I won’t go into the details of it, but in adding this visual indicator you have a sense what is going on and are focused on pulling off the submission instead of a flurry of analog rotations like the previous games. Submitting can be tough and requires a great amount of skill and some finesse but pulling it off is one of the most rewarding ways to finish your opponent.
The new grappling system makes submissions more precise and satisfying to pull off.
THQ has taken all of the necessary steps in trying to make the game easier. The first thing I recommend any new player to do is visit the revamped tutorial mode. This mode can be daunting at first, boasting over 60 exercises to ‘introduce’ you to the game, but it will give you all of the tools you need to survive at least 3 rounds. The tutorial is broken up into four skill levels and guides you through every nuance of the game, which I found to be invaluable because without any basic knowledge you are going to get knocked out in the first round. After an hour of training I stepped into the ring with some slight confidence and it actually felt like I belonged there. Undisputed 3 takes the right steps to make the game easier, but there still remains a staggering amount of depth. You will be at a loss if you don’t follow the sport, but this is characteristic of the Undisputed franchise and demonstrates how technical the sport really is. Some may just see two sweaty dudes punching and hugging each other, however once you immerse yourself and play for a while you will soon realize that this is the most realistic and strategic fighter to date.
UFC Undisputed 3 comes with a variety of modes to experience every facet of the octagon. Title mode is the vanilla ‘take a fighter to the top’ mode and become champion. Playing through Title mode is a great way to become familiar with the game, and completing it unlocks the Title Defense mode. Title Defense has you defending against 100 challengers back to back without saving. This means in order to complete the whole mode, you have to fend off 8 hours of championship fights. The Ultimate Fights is perfect for those who want to re-create monumental fights in the history of the UFC. Each battle contains specific goals that you must complete in order to finish the fight as it happened, or change the history books. Undisputed 3 also comes packaged with the Pride League, which uses a different set of rules and a ring instead of a caged octagon. In Pride, a fighter is able to perform head stomps or kicks on a downed opponent and the fights are structured with one 10 minute round, followed by two 5 minute rounds. There is a ton of content to be had, but most of my time was spent in the career mode. You are allowed to take an existing fighter through the ranks, or create your own from scratch. The career mode has been polished as there is less stat tweaking and menu navigating - with more of a focus on the fighting. Training isn’t fun for me, so I welcome this change with open arms and simulation games have been far too heavy on the ‘out of the ring’ experience. You can still upgrade your stats and build your fighter up in a Rocky-esque montage, but the end result of these changes provide the player with a more streamlined game that gets straight to the action. Plus, this gives you more potential for creating your very own memorable moments, by smashing someone’s face in.
The damage to your face will be very apparent throughout the fight.
The online features some of the most seamless matchmaking in a fighting game, and I never felt outclassed or unevenly matched. You can join ‘Fight Camps’ and team up with a group fighting under one banner to build and unlock your fighter’s true potential. Highlight reels from your victories can be shared with others easily, and the exhibition fights allow you to see how you rank against other players in the world. The game looks stellar with picture perfect renders of the huge roster of real MMA gladiators, only to be brutally damaged and bruised with the new facial damage system. The animation is slick and the commentary is spot on, and you will even hear your trainer commend you on excellent work, or yell tips that you need to work on during the fight.
UFC Undisputed 3 is the most accessible MMA game I encountered, but the immense amount of content will keep the hardcore fans engaged. THQ took some time to rethink the formula, and it shows in their finished product - something I wish many other sports game franchises wooud do. They have managed to add a slew of new features, but still make the experience less intimidating. UFC3 is deep, realistic, and focused on the action, which makes it a complete knockout for me.