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UFC 2009 UNDISPUTED ( PS3/XBOX 360 ) 
Fight Night Round 3
82%
Great Graphics
Polished Gameplay
Takes Time Learning

Mix the high flying glamour of WWE Wrestling and the brutality of boxing and your pretty close to impact sports latest craze - Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Make no mistake, this isn't a watered down sport to just bring together washed up meatheads from varying disciplines. Ultimate Fighting Championship is a mix of various different fighting styles and techniques, such as Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Fights take place in a cage called the Octagon. Rounds are 5 minutes each and range from 2 to 5 rounds. Ways to win the fight include Knockout (KO), Total Knockout (TKO) and submission. It's brutal, very brutal. A few years ago developers Yukes picked up the job to convert UFC to the digital platform and we were excited to see how it fared.

We realised fast that there is a steep learning curve to the game. A lot of training is required to master the upright and ground controls. Fortunately the tutorial works well and the inclusion of the UFC bootcamp had us to grips with punch/kick combos and blocking manoeuvres to mix it with the early
trial horse opponents. The exhibition fights house an impressive roster of 80 fighters across the 5 major weight classes, namely Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, Welterweight and Featherweight. Various venues and official UFC referees are also selectable.

Once you get down to the action, its impressive how intuitive the the controls are. For example by rotating the right thumbstick in various directions allow for takedowns of your opponent to the canvas, block an incoming blow or even reverse it. Timing is the key here, but fortunately the game speed never seems to be too fast to prevent you scoring a counter-move even at championship level. There are clipping issues where punches score despite looking as though they missed by a few inches, but animation is generally fluid and smooth.

The real nitty-gritty is at career mode however. This mode lets you take your own created fighter from the lowly ranks of unknown prospect in the UFC, right the way up to UFC champion, and eventually into the UFC Hall of Fame. On creating your character, you improve your fighter's skills by either setting your fighter to train for the week on his strength, speed or cardio, or by taking your fighter into a sparring session. The training is done automatically and requires no effort from the player. You are placed into a 2 minute fight against your sparring partner who will attempt to echo the fighting style, stance and techniques of your upcoming opponent. The better you can perform in this sparring session grants you valuable points to allocate to your fighter, although at the expense of your stamina. Alternative training like cardio or speed do not glean as much points, but improve stamina so there is strategy involved getting the maximum possible stats before fight night. Between training sessions, opportunities arise where you can visit other gyms to improve your core fighting styles, and also take part in interviews and photo shoots in order to earn a few credits. The credits that you earn through events and from fights go towards unlocking new sponsors, new gym equipment to improve your training, and even new sparring partners of better calibre.

Visually, UFC Undisputed looks great. Each of the individual fighters are superbly rendered to their real life counterparts. Sweat and blood sprays and cheeks ripple as the slow motion replays run between rounds. The commentators sound great, bringing about a fantastic atmosphere during gameplay although most of the best verbal exchanges come about during the Classic Fight matchup between two major protagonists in the sport. The in game music isn't great, but replaceable with your own stored on your console.

All in all UFC Undisputed is the best MMA title to date. The polish that has gone into the tale of the tapes, fighter renders and career mode depth is a benchmark that many other contact sport games should mimic. Together with the unlockable footage in Classic Fights, there is a lot here to keep you
enthralled for weeks if you can master the controls.

 

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