When I was seven I challenged a classmate to a fight. Weād been having a bit of playground beef, so I called him out. At three thirty on my schoolās top field we went at, hammer and tongs.
He kicked my arse, and to that day Iāve been a bit wary about going toe to toe with my fellow man. However, you canāt suppress your inner male for too long and there has always been a part of me that was been rearing to go ā so it was with much anticipation that I sat down with THQās sequel to last yearās very successful UFC: 2009 offering. I was hopeful itād give me a chance to let off some steam.
When it comes to the ethos of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, school yards fights are probably a good analogy. Basically, anything goes.
Well, at least when UFC started anything went. Scratching, gouging, fish-hooking, punches to the back of the head... it was all pretty brutal. But after a few scandals the sport cleaned up its act and started turning professional. After some successful reality TV shows, UFC had broken through to the mainstream. Its mixture of brutal action, hardcore mixed martial arts and fighting authenticity appealed to many, and now itās one of the most successful fighting franchises around.
At NZGamer.com we have already had a chance to get our hands on THQās exciting new mixed martial arts title. Weāve seen how it looks, and what damage can be done. Now weāve finally had the chance to put it through a few rounds and see if it comes out with the points.
And on the whole, it does. UFC Undisputed: 2010 builds on its predecessor in pretty much every way and the result is a title that's polished, complex and fun.
The most immediate and welcome change is that UFC: 2010 has had a nice big facelift. Developer Yukes have picked off the dried blood and cleaned everything up a bit. The game now looks much more detailed. These graphical changes go all the way from the crowd (who are now properly lit and rendered) to the in game menus ā which are laid out in true big fight night style.
But by far the greatest improvement is the in-game graphics. They have been substantially improved, and they look pretty damn good. Fighters are now instantly recognisable, as opposed to the gelatinous blobs we saw in 2009, and the action up close is almost photorealistic. Especially when youāre gaping at the slow motion replay of the knock-out kick you just landed as Mirko Cro Cop.
But while looking pretty, Yukes havenāt quite managed to do away with all the animation glitches that plagued UFC: 2009. There were a few instances where while wrestling, Brock Lesnar (always go as Lesnar, heās totally the best) would glitch in and out of a hold. At other times your character would be raising their arms in victory, before their unconscious victim had hit the mat. During one match I ālandedā a knock out on Quentin āRampageā Jackson ā by hitting the air in front of his chin. These glitches were admittedly pretty rare, but my poor friend controlling Rampage was pretty annoyed at being cheated out of the victory. I totally claimed it though. I was winning anyway.
What these minor animation problems indicate is that there is probably a little more work to do to get the animations right. This is especially so when the action gets down on the mat, with the wrestling animations still feeling a bit formulaic. But in saying that, I only hope Yukes continue to work on and improve them, because the breadth of holds and positions now available in UFC: 2010 is pretty impressive and itād be a shame to see them reduced just to solve a few graphical bugs.
All of these minor criticisms donāt really outweigh the fact that the core of UFC is still here and itās been greatly enhanced. The gameplay is slicker and itās not as arcade-like as its predecessor. The best example of this can be seen in the changes to submissions. In the titleās earlier instalment, I was able to end matches left right and centre with a well timed triangle choke or angry ankle lock. This time around, holds are much tougher to initiate and finish. For a slightly dishonourable player like myself, I found that a little frustrating. Sometimes Iād heavily relied on a cheeky submission to get me through a few tough bouts.
But my poor submission skills are a purely due to my failure to play the game like a pro. Because underneath UFC: 2010ās cosmetic hood is a pretty grunty game mechanic. Behind the macho bluff and bluster is a fighting game with delicate nuances and some incredibly rewarding sleights of hand. Players who can eventually get to grips with the titles subtle use of counter-takedowns, Muay Thai knee strikes, or swaying-left hooks will be able to really dominate in the octagon.
Outside of the ring, the title offers the standard value-adding options. There is the create a fighter mode (for the narcissists out there, Iād advise against designing your fighter as the spitting image of yourself. Itās a bit depressing to see the virtual-you getting the sh*t beaten out of it) a title defence mode, classic fights (complete with some so-wooden-its-funny video introductions) and a career mode. The career mode has more depth than ā09 and will satisfy those hardcore fans who restlessly dream all night about trash talking Forest Griffin or starting a feud with Vito Belfort.
However, UFC Undisputed:2010 still suffers from the Achilles heel of all fighting games. After a while the fighting does get a little repetitive. But thereās not much Yukes could have done about that in a game attempting to bring you some of the realism of the UFC.
However, there could have been a little more imagination in the audio department. Thereās only so many commentary one liners you can hear within a certain time period. If I have to hear Joe Rogan say āthatās riiight on the button!ā one more time, Iām going to have an aneurysm. And the ominous ātale of the tapeā background music still seems more at home in a Dan Brown film than a mixed martial arts fighting game.
But does the titleās repetitiveness outweigh its strong, nuanced, and incredibly satisfying gameplay? Not really. And letās be honest, no one really buys fighting games with the intention of throwing as many hours at them as they would with Final Fantasy. At its heart, UFC: 2010 is a game that is really intended for players to engage in legendary one on one showdowns, surrounded by their trash-talking mates and a few bottles of bourbon.
THQ's 2010 offering isnāt quite a ferocious knockout in the first round. Itās an obvious cosmetic update of UFC: 2009, but thatās not a bad thing. In fact, itās readily welcomed. On the whole, this yearās installment is an impressive title with added depth thatās brutally fun, and allows you to get out your inner warrior and take him (or her) for a spin.
UFC Undisputed: 2010 might not be as āreal as it getsā, but this year, itās as close as we are likely to come.