UFC 2010 Undisputed Review

Lee Abrahams

MMA is quite simply an amazing phenomenon right now, and no doubt it is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet, so it was probably only fair that it finally got the game it deserved last year. Based on that success, it was probably inevitable that a yearly update would soon become the norm, although hopefully the series will not fall into the same trap of stale rehashes that have plagued other sports franchises in years gone by. With a few issues to clean up from last time around, can UFC 2010 really become the Undisputed king of the genre and keep EA Sports' MMA title on its toes before their big fall release?

Bobbing and weaving.

The masters of the wrestling and MMA genre would undoubtedly be Yukes and it is easy to see why, as the attention to detail here is nothing short of amazing. The competitors are superbly modelled and every punch, kick and grapple looks like it has weight behind it. The introductions, commentary and interview segments are all flawless when you start out and the overall representation of the UFC events are spot on. If ever a game has conveyed what it feels like to participate in a sport better than this, then I have yet to see it. Though, as with any sporting title, the more you play it, then the more repetition you will see and the more you will want to just skip through the glamour and hop straight to the action, such is the way of things.

For anyone who could not get on with the controls in UFC 2009, do not expect an easier ride here as there are so many areas that have to be covered. Yet again you have a variety of attacks based on height and reach plus whether you are striking or grappling. You can jump into a tutorial, but even that is hard pressed to teach you all of the nuances which is a shame really as you always feel like you are one step behind a better player with no way to catch up. By the same token once you finally do ‘get it’ then the whole thing becomes that much more entertaining, as you can utilise the new sway mechanic to weave away from strikes, counter submission holds and string together a sweet array of combos. The AI puts up a good challenge though for the most part - more so than last time out - so it makes things that much more interesting. Breaking apart your opponent and then knocking them out with one final flush strike is infinitely satisfying and always will be, no matter how many times you watch the replay.

The main point of call for most players will be the Career mode, and this area has been vastly enhanced, although not necessarily all for the better. The mode is a lot meatier this time around with a lot more emphasis on you being able to control every aspect of your fighter, starting with a much deeper creation mode. Last time out you also had to choose from a number of preset fighter types, but this time around you can steer your chosen combatant in any direction you wish by enhancing any of sixteen key areas. You can also attend training camps in order to learn new moves or enhance ones you already have, so if you want to become a superb boxer or a skilled floor combatant then you can do just that. The only problem with this method is that your fighter can be spread too thin and end up not really being a master of anything.

No time for a breather.

The presentation throughout your career is top notch though, with an impressive variety of interviews, announcements and build up; exactly as you would expect. The commentary is especially impressive as it draws upon your preferred moves and recent results to keep things fresh from match to match, again, it does occasionally stray into jaded territory. What does drag the mode down are the weeks between fights, where you can spend your time training to boost your stats, moves or cred. All of which are necessary to make sure you are at the top of your game, but soon become a bit of a chore. The fact that the majority of your time is sucked up by them really brings you down from the high of the fighting. It is still a rewarding experience, but one that very much requires you to donate a massive amount of time and patience to get the best out of it.

Aside from the career you can also hop into regular exhibition matches or set up tournaments to muscle through, both of which are just more of the same, but at least provide a more instant fix of combat. The Event mode is a bit more interesting and lets you put together your own pay-per-view offering with all of the razzle dazzle that you would hope for. However, the best extra comes in the form of the Ultimate Fights mode which allow you to participate, and even change the outcome, of a series of classic encounters. Each of them also includes a series of bonus in-fight challenges which can unlock items upon their successful completion. All of these modes do give you a bit of choice, but really do not add anything that goes above and beyond what you would find in career mode.

For a more involved experience you really need to go one on one with another human, which adds that extra layer of uncertainty to each encounter. There is still a touch of lag to be found when online, but on the whole it is smooth sailing. It is worth yet another mention (as if it has not been talked about enough) that you need an online code to take part in festivities, though all new copies of the game will carry a code for free. However, any second hand copies or rental copies will not be similarly blessed, so take that into account. The online mode includes the usual variety of events and rankings, plus you can even form a training camp with friends which is essentially a clan with little in the way of real benefits. Still, when you get tired of facing off against the AI then heading online is a natural progression – just watch out for veterans of the last game who may well dismantle you in short order.

What you should not let happen.

Scrolling down the achievement list brings few surprises, but the overall mix is very solid indeed, as you will be rewarded for dabbling in as many different game modes as possible. A good chunk of points can be snagged by completing the career mode - a lengthy ask - and then you have the usual online grind with 100 ranked wins being the ultimate milestone. Some of the variety seems to be lacking from last year, with most tasks being of the fairly mundane variety. It should be a fairly standard, if time consuming, completion for those with the skills and perseverance to do it all, but where are the strokes of originality and panache?

UFC Undisputed 2010 is quite easily the best fighting game of its type on the 360, though it is not quite the great stride forward that you would expect. Newcomers may well be put off by the complexity of the controls, but for a fighting contest this deep that was always to be expected. If you are prepared to slog through the career mode then there will be plenty of thrills along the way, mixed in with a bit too much repetition and time spent outside the ring. The best way to play this game is against a friend, where anything can and will happen – just like in the sport itself. UFC Undisputed 2010 is a fine addition to the blossoming franchise.

You will be blown away by the commentary at first, but as with all sports games, it does start to grate after a while.

Superbly detailed visuals and the action can be some of the most brutal around. It looks and feels just like the real thing.

One of the most satisfying fighting games around – once you get over the hurdle of the controls that is. Not exactly pick up and play, but easily the best game of its class.

Great presentation and a solid career mode too, although segments do start to get a little repetitive after a while. You could argue that the menus are a tad fiddly in places.

A solid list and one that seems to be glitch free for now. It rewards you for sampling each and every mode, although you will have to spend a lot of time online which will not appeal to everyone.

A supreme effort, but one that can get a tad repetitive over longer periods of play. It tends to be a bit too close to last year's effort to provide much in the way of new fangled entertainment for veterans. That being said, this is ideal fodder for fight fans and quite simply one of the best fighters around right now.

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