UFC 2009 Undisputed

UFC 2009 Undisputed Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3

THQ's first licensed game from the MMA sport.

Review Verdict Read Review
9Out of 10
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The fighter models are superb and the action is brutal
The fighter models are superb and the action is brutal

The fighter models are superb and the action is brutal

Don't panic too much if that all sounds like a lot to remember, because the game does a pretty good job of guiding you through everything. THQ and Yuke's have wisely bundled in a tutorial that does a reasonable job of going over the basic moves, but the easiest way to learn the ropes is to jump into the career mode. Here you'll build a fighter from scratch and work your way up through the UFC food chain. Between fights you'll have to manage your spare time, choosing whether to train, spar, attend media events or simply rest. The first activity merely works as an automatically-handled booster for your fighter's stats, but sparring actually takes you to a ring where you'll be given the chance to practice against an AI opponent. In a neat touch, your sparring partner will actually fight in the style of your next proper opponent - so these practice sessions give you a genuine chance to fix holes in your game before facing a real opponent.

In addition to giving you hands-on practice, sparring will also earn you points that can be invested in boosting your fighting skills. Media appearances, meanwhile, will help to boost your fighter's profile, and as you get more famous you'll unlock new equipment and the chance to work on your techniques with established fighting schools. All of these activities are managed by a functional-if-clunky diary interface that comes with its own email system. The latter soon proves to be quite pesky, spamming you with endless UFC newsletters that you'll quickly learn to ignore. The messages you receive from rival fighters and from UFC chief Dana White are a little more interesting, although these too lose their appeal once they start to repeat. On the whole, the management side of Undisputed does its job solidly without being too much of an annoyance.

In any case, the minor irritations of email spam are swiftly forgotten once you're actually in the ring. The bread-and-butter action of Undisputed is brutal, addictive and surprisingly deep. You may think you've got the game pegged after your first five victories or so, but as soon as you meet your first skilled grappler you're bound to find yourself crashing to Earth with a bump - and your arm will probably be bent into a horrific knot, too. The longer you stick with Undisputed, the more you appreciate its nuances - the subtle but important differences between the disciplines, and the need to adapt to each opponent's style. You'll learn that Demian Maia is a nightmare on the ground, or that Dan Henderson is extremely good at takedowns. You'll inevitably lose a few matches - but when you do you'll build up a massive grudge, to the extent that you immediately yearn for a rematch. It’s this magic ingredient, rather than the simulated email or limited character creator, that sucks you into your fighter's career.

Commentators do a good job at explaining what's going on

Commentators do a good job at explaining what's going on

But above all else, it's the sheer joy of violence that makes Undisputed so much fun. Fights can turn on a sixpence at any time. You might knock out your opponent in under 30 seconds, or you may find yourself drawn into an epic struggle on the ground. You're never really safe, and with the default setup you don't even have a stamina bar on the screen. Sure, you can turn it on - but despite the small advantage this affords you, it somehow feels better to go without. There's a certain purity to the clutter-free screen, allowing you to focus on the large fighter models and the grimly detailed damage effects. Flesh bruises, skin cuts and bleeds, eyes swell and puff, and all these details help to boost the drama of a tight match. When you pin someone down and knock them out, you can carry on punching your unconscious opponent until the referee drags you away. It's nasty, nasty stuff… and you'll love it.

If I were Dana White and Yuke's were a fledgling UFC fighter, I'd be commending the young pup on a barnstorming entry to the competition. There's room for improvement, certainly: the character creation tools are a bit limited when compared to similar titles, while the career mode could do with fleshing out a few of its ideas. However, neither of these complaints prevent Undisputed from being the best thing that Yuke's has made in years. It's stylish, fresh and deeply engaging. It is, in short, a bruising powerhouse of a game.

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gkramez's Avatar

gkramez

No review of UFC Undisputed would be complete without mention of the one damning characteristic of Xbox Live play. Disconnect during online play are not penalized. Instead, they result in both the player who disconnected and the player they were facing receiving a DNF. At lower levels of online play, the problem is not readily apparent, but the higher your opponent's level the higher the probability that they will disconnect as soon as they are knocked our or submitted. When 7/10 people one beats disconnect, one quickly tires of ranked online play. As this should be a major source of replayability, the value of the game is severely affected.
Posted 09:36 on 02 June 2009
Rogue_Soul's Avatar

Rogue_Soul@ antard

Quote:
Originally Posted by antard
UFC (short for Ultimate Fighting Championship) is a brand that seems tailor-made for gaming. It's got all of the fanfare of pro wrestling together with some seriously no-nonsense action; a huge international following; and the Beat 'Em Up genre is positively crying out for something new and interesting right now (even Street Fighter IV can only do so much on its own)....

You could at least credit the original source for that, Antard...

http://www.game.co.uk/lowdown.aspx?l...2009-_-preview
Posted 14:53 on 16 May 2009
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ _MICHAEL_

You could say the same thing about FPS games, Michael. "Throw a bunch of guys into a space, someone wins." Or pretty much any genre you care to name. What gives fighters legs is the depth offered to the players. For example, you might think that Ryu is the same as Ken is the same as Akuma. Whereas I think that Ryu demands a more defensive approach, Ken requires you to control space, and Akuma simply can not take hits and demands all out attack. UFC games actually require a great deal of strategy from the player, as simply attacking your opponent without thought usually means you lose.
Posted 13:55 on 16 May 2009
antard's Avatar

antard

UFC (short for Ultimate Fighting Championship) is a brand that seems tailor-made for gaming. It's got all of the fanfare of pro wrestling together with some seriously no-nonsense action; a huge international following; and the Beat 'Em Up genre is positively crying out for something new and interesting right now (even Street Fighter IV can only do so much on its own). But, for whatever reason, no-one has really been able to fully capture the explosiveness and variety of UFC's signature Mixed Martial Arts battles – until, possibly, now.
Blown away

UFC 2009 Undisputed isn't the first UFC title in the history of gaming, but it is the first in a good few years, and by all accounts it's going to blow its predecessors away. Having said that, to begin with at least, it isn't the most pick-up-and-play fighter we've ever come across.

They take some getting used to, but UFC 2009 Undisputed's controls should make for the most comprehensive MMA experience ever.

Unlike most fighting games, the controls in UFC 2009 Undisputed are really quite complex, boiling down to two distinct ways of fighting. Standing is easy enough: movement is on the left stick (with faster movement gained by pushing down the stick), the four fascia buttons each make you attack with a different limb, and holding the left trigger makes your strikes stronger, while holding the left bumper initiates special attacks – like leaping roundhouses which make for some spectacular knockouts. Blocking is done with the right trigger for low blocks, and the right bumper for high blocks – meaning you can't just hold down one block button and expect your fighter to be fully defended. In a standing fight, UFC 2009 Undisputed is all about working the openings.

So far, so fighting game – right? Wrong. Just when you start to get that familiar feeling, UFC 2009 Undisputed has your opponent tackle you to the mat – and basically sit on top of you, pounding you senseless until your mouthguard falls out.
Reigning down

A couple of frustrating KOs in, though, and you start to get your head around UFC 2009 Undisputed's analogue stick grappling controls. Flick the right stick and your fighter will try and tackle your rival to the mat – and if they manage that, from there you've a wealth of ways to go. Slight quarter-turns of the right stick move your fighter, and pressing the same stick down executes submission manoeuvres – or, if you manage to get yourself into the potentially match-winning Mount position, you can just reign blows until you render your foe unconscious.

You will have to be wary though – getting into the most advantageous positions on the mat can take several transitions, all of which are vulnerable to being countered and you potentially on the end of a submission yourself. In all, they take some getting used to, but UFC 2009 Undisputed's controls should make for the most comprehensive MMA experience ever.

UFC 2009 Undisputed experts will come to define their own personal strategies based on who they've picked and who they're facing.

The great news for hardcore UFC fans is that UFC 2009 Undisputed doesn't dilute the sport's intricacies in either standing or mat fighting forms. Fighters themselves are lifelike combinations of Boxing, Kick Boxing or Muay Thai for the standing style, and Wrestling, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for takedowns – so the in-game fighters feel noticeably the same as their real-life counterparts, and UFC 2009 Undisputed experts will come to define their own personal strategies based on who they've picked and who they're facing. No two fights in UFC 2009 Undisputed should be the same – and needless to say it all looks absolutely immaculate, rendered in full, bonecrunching HD on next-gen systems.
Personalise your pugilist

That bodes well for the many modes in UFC 2009 Undisputed. The complex controls may not make for the most instantly playable post-pub Multiplayer, but online play should be a particularly big draw – while the Career mode, together with its own Create A Fighter option (which THQ are being particularly coy about at the mo), should really let you personalise your pugilist to your favoured forms of fighting.

Non UFC fans meanwhile might also want to keep UFC 2009 Undisputed on their radar if they're at all interested in checking out a different type of fighting game. Like the brand itself excitement for the game seems to be growing, and hope is high that this could make a big impact amidst the usually quiet early summer videogame release period.
Posted 09:22 on 16 May 2009
_MICHAEL_'s Avatar

_MICHAEL_

Meh, a 9 is a little too high in my personal opinion. I'd give it a mid 7. Fighters are essentially all the same. Throw two people in a space, and one can come out the winner. I will say this is the best UFC game to date, but for some reason it still seems like it's missing something... What? I have no idea, but that's just my opinion.
Posted 16:15 on 15 May 2009
thpcplayer's Avatar

thpcplayer

wow wow !!!!!!!!!!!!
22 may hmm not alot to wait just cant wait
Posted 10:46 on 15 May 2009
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

"Do I like kicking people in the head?"

Thats an awesome question. Great review. Probs trade in my finished copy of Wolverine for this.
Posted 10:23 on 15 May 2009

Game Stats

UFC 2009 Undisputed
9
Out of 10
UFC 2009 Undisputed
  • Plenty of variety and depth
  • Meaty, visceral action
  • The first game to "do" UFC properly
  • Character creation could be better
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Release Date: 22/05/2009
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Yuke's
Publisher: THQ
Genre: Sports
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 1,717
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