UFC Undisputed 2010 Review
The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is a promoting company for professional MMA fighting, which are mixed martial arts. This means that unlike boxing where you can only use your hands in big gloves, here you can punch, kick, elbow, knee, and wrestle your way to victory with no gloves and in only 3 rounds. From the standpoint of a sports nut and gamer who knows that professional wrestling is fake, who thinks that boxing is an extinct sport, and who thinks fighting games like Street Fighter are too much hyperbole, the concept of a fighting game, which is also a real sport, that combines all of these elements into one is nothing less than exciting. Enter UFC 2010: Undisputed by THQ, which may qualify as the be-all, end-all of fighting games.
There is a sharp learning curve if you've never played the last UFC game, boxing or wrestling games, or have never extensively watched the sport. For starters, there are almost no rules to speak of, only that you can make an opponent tap out through a submission. From there, you must learn how to fight standing up, fight while in a grab (also called a clinch), and fight while on the ground. Most of us will learn well how to fight standing, which is just boxing with harder hits and some kicks depending on your fighter's specialization. But not knowing how to fight in the other spots leaves your game very vulnerable. This creates defensive controls for all positions, offensive controls (exchanging strikes as holder or holdee), and special abilities for each fighter, such as fighting style-specific moves.
The combat is fluid and smooth. So fluid and under control that you can even stop strikes that require a wind-up or take a long time to land. This game is about control and immersion. There are no health bars; no meters pop up to determine who is winning a submission; no explanation of why one direct hit is a KO and others are not. That doesn't mean the field is completely equal or that style and skill is thrown out the window in favor of the random, it instead reaffirms the notion that anything can happen in sports. It also means that speed and the possible brevity of an octagon match allows for that level of excitement we all crave, while also reaching a pure balance with the execution and precision of professional sports. Essentially, you play a competitive game that should not last more than a round (or no more than a quick game of Dead or Alive or Tekken), but it could also turn into three rounds of being on the edge of your seat waiting for a kill-shot or a sudden submission.
It's highly advised that you play the tutorials, study the manual, and play a bunch of practice matches to learn the controls and test the various play styles, as well as fighting techniques within just the general styles. Beyond that you can play online, play a quick match for fun, play a single season, or play a career.
Career mode is a definite highlight of this game, combining just the right blend of necessary sports cheesiness with moments of unique characterization. The customization options are somewhat limited, but choosing from five different voices is a more than welcome feature that deserves a high level of praise; it goes so far as to almost pass as an excuse to replay the career just to hear the voices, but not quite. The training between fights keeps the pace of your career solid by balancing real progress with minimal frustration. As you play your career you learn that there is a great deal of micro-management and this alone becomes an addicting almost “RPG combined with RTS-like” experience. It may be a little frustrating that you have to keep all your stats and skills (there is a difference in the two) up while managing fatigue, but it's a stock-market in which you get what you give – learning new moves and participating in events are completely optional, while your “Cred” is a sort of XP bar that you can also manipulate with some effort. And don't forget the actual fighting, which should become increasingly satisfying as you witness your boy improving and really showing the effects of your tender loving care over time. The career mode in this game doesn't go into full immersion or do anything with the “rising star” story-line that will excite you, you'll still skip the intros and some content, but the effort is appreciated even more when you realize this mode in most sports games just gets a few heartless sliders or checksheets.