UFC Undisputed 3 Review

A funny thing happened between the time when THQ first previewed UFC Undisputed 3 and its release: I became a UFC fan. If you haven't checked out that preview, I urge you to do so here; we were able to cover quite a bit about the game before it even came out. Now that it is out, however, I, a scrawny pacifist, find myself drawn to the ultra-violent sport, and I know the only reason for the attraction is this unbelievable game. If you don't read a single other sentence of this review, I urge you to take this one to heart: Fan or not, appalled by violence or not, UFC Undisputed 3 is the best-looking, most complete fighting simulation ever to be released, and as a gamer, it�s your sworn duty to check it out. Like yesterday.

UFC Undisputed 3 is without a doubt the most fully-featured and complete UFC game yet. Since we focused so much on graphics and the single player career mode in our preview (and the game remains largely unchanged in its transition to retail), I'll be focusing on the controls and multiplayer modes for this review, as well as the rock solid mechanics of the fighting itself. Actually, that sounds like a perfect place to get started.

Picture every Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan fight you can imagine. Think about the give and take, the ballet of it all; how each and every kick and punch has and equal and opposite reaction, block or reversal. When playing UFC Undisputed against another skilled player (online or off) or on any of the higher difficulty levels, the battles have the same Lee or Chan "feel"; a fast-paced chess match between two masters of their craft. Flowery language aside, combat in UFC Undisputed 3 really is that technical and beautiful. Every fighter, real life or user-created, has dozens and dozens of punches, kicks, holds, submissions and reversals, all of which are upgradable, making each combatant an encyclopedia of pain. And in the right hands, seeing that knowledge laid bare is pretty awesome.

A stud in the belt of the complex combat is the brand new submission system. A quick way to end any encounter is a good submission, and THQ took this into account. During a submission, players are presented with an on-screen octagon and each is assigned a different color bar within that octagon. If the player administering the submission can keep his bar overlapped with the other player's bar for long enough, the submission works. If the prone player can escape the other player's bar for long enough, he breaks free. To be honest, at first, successfully applying a submission seems impossible. As players tire or gain the upper hand, though, their bars change sizes, making a weak opponent much easier to choke out than one on top of his game. It ends up being a great way to represent the real life action in game form, and it's much, much better than any previous attempt at doing so.

Even though I keep bringing up how great things are for skilled players, UFC amateurs stand more than a fighting chance this time around. It's no secret that THQ's UFC games have some seriously complicated controls, but a brand new amateur control mode solves all this. With normal controls, complex, Street Fighter-esque movements with the analog sticks are required to pull off the best grabs and reversals, and even the game's amazing tutorial isn't quite enough to bring on newbies 100 percent competency. Amateur controls simplify these mechanics into simple up or down motions, making the game both easier to play and easier to learn. Granted, players using normal controls have much more in the way of moves and such, but it�s nice to see a nod toward anyone fresh to the series.

UFC Undisputed 3 screenshot 53

The last thing I wanted to cover is the game's online component, including multiplayer. For me, the best part of all this is the character and logo sharing, which works flawlessly. It's almost a necessity these days that games have this kind of content sharing, but that doesn't make it any less impressive here. The thought of someone halfway across the world taking my fighter into the octagon is an exciting and tempting one, and the logos are just as much fun. By the way, keep an eye out for Vinz Clortho. That's my man!

The online multiplayer works flawlessly, a great concern after some lag issues with past UFC games. Everything seems to have been fixed up for this release and I didn't see any slowdown during any of the matches. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the gameplay in online multiplayer feels a little more like an arcade game than a sim, but that may just be indicative of the medium. Either way, those who are planning to take the fight online with be more than pleased.

Whew. I think, finally, between this review and the preview, I've covered it all. UFC Undisputed 3 is really that huge and deep a game. And as a complete package, it has nearly no faults; this is The Orange Box of fighting games, simulation or not. Single player, multiplayer, character creation, the new training modes, the addition of Pride rules... I could go on and on. UFC Undisputed 3 even managed to create a UFC fan in someone who NEVER thought they'd go that route.

Final Rating: 95%. If you've ever enjoyed UFC, fighting games or even games in general, give this game a look. You'll thank me later.


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