A fight in UFC Undisputed 3 can go from good to bad in seconds. One false step and you can find yourself on the receiving end of a submission maneuver that threatens to break your arm unless you can break the hold before you are forced to tap. It is an exhilarating experience knowing that at any moment you could lose your match, your shot at a title within seconds.
UFC pulls no punches, when you step into the ring or the Octagon you are getting ready for a brutal contest. Unlike the WWE games also come from developer Yuke’s, there is no over the top extravagance to the matches which keeps the wrestling titles firmly rooted in the arcade and away from any sense of realism. Rather, fights in UFC are intense affairs where the fighters take visible punishment through a match with cuts leading to a blood splattered mat and attention from your trainers between rounds.
In exhibition mode you have two rule sets to choose from, UFC or PRIDE, this determines weight classes, locations, fighters and presentation of the matches. A UFC match takes place in the famous Octagon with the same weight divisions from Undisputed 2 along with the new divisions of Featherweight and Bantamweight and ring announcements from Bruce Buffer. PRIDE fights are based on the now defunct Japanese fighting group and come with a much more extravagant spectacle.
Ring entrances are flashier, more like what you would expect from a wrestling game, ring announcements are done in Japanese first followed by English and the action takes place in a traditional square ring with ropes. There are also more technical differences between UFC and PRIDE fights with different kicks and ground and pound moves allowed in the different organisations. You certainly can’t jump into a PRIDE fight and go hell for leather just like you would in a UFC match, you need to be aware of the different techniques and moves you can unleash on your opponent.
Indeed, before you start your first match, I would highly recommend a quick perusal of the tutorial section, especially if you are new to the series like I am. Here you can take part in various lessons which will teach you how to perform basic strikes and how to block them, the cinch up, how to takedown an opponent and perform various transitions, and most importantly how to perform and defend submission moves.
When a submission is initiated, an octagon appears on the screen with a bar filling the middle of the shape, and another bar running parallel to the borders of the octagon, the camera also zooms in on the fighters so you can see the action close up. The player who initiates the submission controls the bars running along the borders, with the aim to cover the inner bar before the outer bars disappear. In short, it is a game of cat and mouse along an octagon controlled by the right analogue stick. In one fight, I was evading the AI and thought I was about to escape the submission so I could try to get back into the fight, impressively though, the AI was able to transition the submission from a choke to an arm bar which I was unable to fend off. It is a simple system on the surface, but one that works very effectively.
Beyond the exhibition matches and title tournaments is the career mode where you can take either a create your own fighter or an established roster fighter through a fighting career. You start off fighting in the now defunct WFA which has a very low key atmosphere before working your way up to PRIDE and finally, the UFC. Between fights you can take part in training mini-games such as a punch bag mode, to improve your skills or attend a variety of gym’s to learn new moves. You can also set up game plans before a fight, this gives you a set of in fight goals to achieve which will grant you a stat boost.
The career mode, and various other aspects of the game such as Ultimate Fights feature are interspersed with videos showing clips of real PRIDE and UFC matches with various fighters voicing their thoughts on an event such as ‘First Professional Win’ or a broader subject like PRIDE. These videos add a very interesting insight into the fighting world which might be not otherwise be readily accessible to casual fans of the sport.
Undisputed 3 is a top quality fighting game, even if you stripped away the training mini-games and sponsorship management, it would remain a brilliant fighting game. The inclusion of PRIDE tops things off for a really enjoyable title.
Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available – PS3, 360
Platform Reviewed – 360