|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Yuke's Media||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 19, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
May 11, 2009 - If you ask someone what the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is, you'll probably get a lot of answers. Despite being the fastest growing sport in the world, it has its critics. However, after spending some serious time with UFC 2009 Undisputed, I have definitely come away with a lot more respect for what the UFC is and what this game is trying to accomplish. Although games based on properties like the WWE focus on over-the-top moves and theatrics, in UFC Undisputed it is all about stats and strategy. Just like some of the bigger sports titles, UFC 2009 Undisputed sets out to really give players the experience of the sport, and on that note, this title is really looking to succeed.
During my time with UFC 2009 Undisputed, I got to experience all three of the game's main modes: career, exhibition, and a classic fights. The career mode is certainly the deepest of the three modes, having you create a unique UFC fighter. Although the creation options aren't the deepest I have ever seen, making your own unique MMA fighter is easy enough, and there are enough tattoo, hair, and shorts options to make the process quite enjoyable.
In addition to your looks, you will also be able to customize your character's fighting style as well as level of experience in certain areas. You will be able to choose from all the major MMA-recognized fighting types, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and kickboxing. You can also assign stat points to your characters offensive and defensive moves, both on the ground and standing. There are also overarching speed, stamina, and power attributes that you can assign your fighter. The fighter attributes customization is really immersive and impressive, and once you are finished, you can definitely feel confident that you have made a one-of-a-kind fighter.
Once you have made your character in Career mode, you will need to go through the ranks and gain "cred" as a UFC fighter. You can do this by participating in matches and taking on the big names in the UFC. However, the game is not as simple as other arcade-style sports titles, and it seeks to really involve you in the managerial and strategic elements of being a UFC fighter. When you are scheduled for matches, generally you will have a few weeks of lead time, which allows you to train and spar. Your training will help you increase your speed, stamina, and power stats, and the results of sparring matches will allow you to assign extra points to specific fighting attributes. You will also need to manage a rest mechanic that will allow you to go into sparring as well as matches with higher stamina.
Although it will take quite a few rounds before you are even close to the level of the regular UFC fighters, the format of the career mode makes it very rewarding. I have to say that even though my fighter was slow and couldn't land a decent punch to save his life, I really felt compelled to push onward with him in the game and couldn't wait to see him get better. Although it is not possible to max out a fighter 100%, after you finish the game's career mode (which spans 7 years in the UFC), you can retire your fighter at the peak of his ability and use him to play online.
In addition to the career mode, there is also a classic fights mode. This mode features classic matchups from the UFC's past, allowing you to recreate history. Each bout is preceded by video footage and interviews from the fighters who participated in it, and I was very impressed with the amount of historical value that was put into the game.
Of course, what would a licensed sports game be without an all-out exhibition mode? Although the UFC 2009 Undisputed exhibition mode features over 80 of the franchise's best fighters, there are a few limitations. For example, most fighters will only be able to fight in one weight division, and only against others in that weight class. So, if for instance you wanted to pit Brock Lesnar against BJ Penn, there is no way in the game to do that. However, instead of finding this limitation as a bone of contention, I think it really strengthens the game. It makes it feel like much more of a real sports title, complete with rules and regulations.
As far as control is concerned, UFC 2009 Undisputed is one of those titles with a mix of straightforward yet relatively nuanced controls. Standard strikes use the controller's face-buttons, but in order to do a submission-style move or attempt a takedown, you will need to use a combination of the shoulder buttons, the face buttons, and the correct thumbsticks in order to succeed. At higher levels, it becomes very necessary to master these controls, and you will have to employ a fighting strategy that can wear your enemy down and prepare them for show-stopping moves.
Visually, this game is awesome. The character models are incredibly realistic, and the animations on screen do a great job of mimicking the action of the UFC. Of special interest is the damage system in UFC 2009 Undisputed, which uses a real-time engine to create bruises and cuts on a fighter as they would be inflicted in the real-life octagon. As my character was pummeled in the face, swelling and blood began to gradually pool until my character's face was almost unrecognizable.
UFC 2009 Undisputed is a great game for both UFC fans and for aficionados of deep fighting games. Though I definitely won't purport to be a big MMA fan, I was really impressed by the way this sport is being handled in video game form. Instead of just being another beat'em-up with celebrity faces, a lot of time and effort has gone into making UFC 2009 Undisputed into a legitimate sports title, and as such, it is definitely worth playing when it releases May 19th.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor