Game Rant's Riley Little reviews UFC Undisputed 3
After taking a nearly two year hiatus, the UFC video game series has returned in the form of UFC Undisputed 3. Toting several big enhancements over its predecessors, UFC Undisputed 3 claims to be the best mixed martial arts game on the market, and it definitely lives up to the hype.
The final package offers one of the most authentic UFC experiences ever realized, but the game is far from flawless. There are a handful of noteworthy issues that I encountered during my play time, but overall it's a great game that mixed martial arts fans, and fighting game enthusiasts in general, will enjoy for quite some time.
First things first, Undisputed 3 has a newly revamped career mode. The changes made are certainly for the better too, as the game minimizes time spent training for a fight, allowing players to jump into their next bout with little delay. Training in between fights can be a little tedious at times, but they are necessary to increase your fighter's strength, speed, stamina, and footwork. Upping these base stats will, obviously, make your fighter (be he an existing pro or created character) stronger, and thus increase his chances of walking out of the octagon with a win.
Training can become boring pretty quickly though, as you may find yourself playing through a game multiple times in a row to stack up certain stat levels. As annoying as this may become later in the game, they are actually very helpful in teaching those who neglected to play through the tutorial after booting up the game disc.
The career mode also does a fantastic job of recreating the actual journey that fighters live through as they progress through the ranks. These moments are also given a perspective from professional fighters who have actually lived through the events in their real careers — via a quick video. The videos themselves are an interesting addition, and will certainly be intriguing for fans of the UFC, but they aren't something that everyone is going to want to sit through. Still, hardcore fans of the UFC brand are able to go back and re-watch these clips whenever they'd like, which is a nice little touch.
Since fighting is understandably the main draw of UFC Undisputed 3, it should probably be said that the actual gameplay is pretty incredible. Somehow THQ has managed to recreate the environment fans watch on TV, and make it a hell of a lot of fun to play. The controls are available in both an advanced or beginner variety, which helps make actually playing the game easier than it's ever been in previous installments. Hints will also pop up on screen once the player-controlled fighter finds themselves in certain positions in a fight. It's never been easier to jump in and play a match with friends than it is in UFC Undisputed 3.
My grappling prowess is still not up to par with some of that game's higher difficulties, even after the hours I've spent with the title, but learning how to handle yourself after a takedown or getting into position for a submission just takes practice. As previously mentioned, training areas in the Undisputed's career mode will help get players acquainted with the ground controls — and there are practice sessions available for those who want to enhance their movesets — so it's a matter of adjusting and growing as a player more than anything else.
Submissions are also as much a crucial part of the game as they are in a real UFC match, but the way they've been handled can be a bit of an eye sore. Whenever gamers throw someone in, or are thrown in, a submission, a little mini-game will pop up that involves moving a bar around an octagon on the screen in an attempt to cover/avoid the opponent's bar. While a system like this is almost necessary, it takes you right out of the experience that Yuke's has tried so hard to recreate. I will admit, watching the skin on your arm give way to the force of someone tapping out is pretty exciting.
Fortunately, the rest of the experience is spot on, and it's almost scary how realistic this game is. At one point, I managed to cause a gaping gash on my opposition's eyebrow, and the ref had to stop the fight and inspect the wound to make sure he could continue. The man was eventually cleared, but it's entirely possible to have the ref end the match right there. At another point I continued to kick the other fighter's shin until it snapped — ending the match instantly. K.O.'d an opponent, but the ref hasn't ended the fight yet? Jump on his lifeless corpse and continue to punch him in the face until the official throws you off of him. These are the kinds of things that may actually happen in a real fight, and they're all part of the UFC Undisputed 3 experience.
Other than experiencing all of this wondrously gruesome entertainment in career mode, gamers also have the option to jump into several other modes, including 'Title Mode', 'Title Defense Mode', 'Tournament Mode', 'Ultimate Fight Mode', and the truly originally titled 'Event Mode'. All of these add more depth to the game, and make for a complete blast. 'Title Mode' let's players fight their way up the ladder to capture a UFC championship, while 'Title Defense Mode' throws that character into back-to-back rounds against challengers for the title they just won. 'Ultimate Fight Mode' is easily a standout must-play mode for those looking for something other than Undisputed's career option, as it lets fans relive some of the greatest matches in the sport's history.
The one thing everyone is likely the most keen on getting an impression of is probably the game's online offerings, and I can confirm that playing online is spectacular... when it works. I had a chance to play a couple of matches online a few days ago, but I know that UFC Undisputed 3's online has since been experiencing technical issues — as per usual with most of THQ and Yuke's other offerings. Matchmaking went off without a hitch prior to the entire interface going down though - so presumably it'll do the same once it's restored.
On top of engaging in fisticuffs with other players online, people can download and edit their match highlights into a sizzle reel that's dedicated to proving how bad-ass they are. Fighters will also gain Fighter Points, which will help assign them a ranking whenever they fight online, and those rankings will also put them on leaderboards for the online camps they can either make or join. If that wasn't already enough, players can download and share their created characters online, so it's safe to say that this game has a few solid community offerings for everyone to partake in.
UFC Undisputed 3's load times may be a little long, the submission system may break immersion, commentary may hit several levels of annoying (despite that one awesome trailer telling us otherwise), online may occasionally be hit-or-miss, and the character creation may not be as thorough as it could be, but all of these hiccups are mostly minor problems that are easily overlooked. It also doesn't hurt that there are around 150 different fighters (one for almost every original Pokemon), and the inclusion of PRIDE which offers up hilarious ring introductions in an entirely new atmosphere.
The final disc offers a jaw-droppingly authentic UFC game that stays true to the sport's roots, and offers a great gameplay experience for even the most apathetic gamers. This is the complete package, and proves a must-play for anyone looking for a fun, violent, and authentic UFC experience on game consoles.
UFC Undisputed 3 is available right now for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Game Rant played the Xbox 360 version for this review.
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