UFC Undisputed 2010 Hands-On Preview
For those of us raised on a diet of Street Fighter with its hurricane kicks and fireballs, UFC is a comparative knee to the plums in video game terms. In the real Ultimate Fighting Championship, two sweaty mounds of muscle stand toe-to-toe and pound the stuffing out of each other, and so it is with UFC Undisputed 2010. The sport’s video game counterpart is every bit as unflinchingly brutal as the real thing, and just like the real thing, all it takes is one vicious, well-aimed punch to put an opponent down onto the canvas. UFC Undisputed 2009 was itself an impressive offering, and Undisputed 2010 follows the same template making improvements in key areas such as the control system, which like much of the game is now a much more streamlined affair. Delivering no-nonsense, violent grapples, kicks, punches and knees adheres to the old one face button-per-limb control method, which works as well as you’d imagine in stringing together crunching combos, but now ground moves, grappling and submissions are also a lot more intuitive then before. Going hands-on at a recent London event, we’re given a somewhat limited demo, with only the create-a-fighter, exhibition and tournament modes unlocked. Spending uninterrupted hours sampling every single available fighter in the Welterweight and Heavyweight classes, we managed to go deep into the fight system, learning all of the game’s tricks and still we somehow got our asses handed to us on numerous occasions. Flash knockouts return from Undisputed 2009, making every bout utterly unpredictable and now, flash submissions also appear in the game, though we’re not entirely sure how they work. Initiating ground and grapple moves is much easier now though – simply a case of holding the left trigger and pushing forward on the right analogue stick to make a lunge for your opponent’s legs. If you have enough momentum, you’ll take him down, and be able to pummel him into bloody burger, or make him tapout with a submission. To make your rival submit, you click in the right stick to get into a limb lock and then rapidly rotate the stick like a madman. Attack modifiers are mapped to both of the left triggers, so you can mix a variety of high and low strikes by holding them down, whereas the right triggers handle high and low guards, and a deft flick of the right stick with the right bumper held down enables you to lean and sway to stylishly prevent being battered by a volley of punches and kicks. Blood and sweat gets liberally spattered across the canvas of the trademark UFC octagon ring during a bout, and beating down your opponent usually means having to chip away at his stamina. Happily, UFC Undisputed 2010 is that little more fluid and logical than its predecessor, making fights a lot more accessible and, well, fun. Naturally, a tighter control system is just one of UFC Undisputed 2010′s many improvements, all of which should add up to make this a more comprehensive iteration. Our initial impressions are that Undisputed 2010 certainly feels quicker and less stilted, which according to producer Neven Dravinski comes as a result of a superior physics and collision system, meaning that it’s out with UFC 2009′s canned animations and in with proper reactions to strikes handled by the game’s improved physics. There’s no interruptions to the flow of the action at all in fact, so where the 2009 game took a brief pause to enter the submission viewpoint, now it all happens seamlessly in real time. Being the cheesy players that we are however, our fights mostly descend into frantic button-mashing, which works for a time as you batter your opponent around the head repeatedly with quick one-two jabs, kicks and uppercuts and occasionally you might even open up an opportunity to perform a devastating flash knockout. But then, button bashing doesn’t really wash with UFC Undisputed 2010 and normally leaves you wide open to a flash knockout yourself, especially on the tougher difficulty settings. Without a strategy to support an all-out assault, you can expect to be kissing the canvas before the end of the first round. Dravinski states this is all a part of the franchise moving closer to emulating the “as real as it gets” tagline proudly used to promote the UFC. Chief amongst achieving this goal is of course, the revamped core fighting mechanics, but the career and customisation options have also been expanded massively, offering a create a fighter mode that’s incredibly detailed and in-depth. Encouraged to play around and create our very own custom pugilist for our hands-on demo, we set to work building a freak using the simple analogue sliders. One pink shock of hair (long tresses are in this year), green beard and blue moustache later, and our 6′ 8” tall hairy fat beast man is ready to waddle out into the ring as soon as we assign him a voice, a move set and some attributes. This is all part and parcel of the added immersion for career with Dravinski confirming that there’s “more investment in your created fighter this year.” Karate, Greco-Roman wrestling and Sambo join the array of fighting styles and new stances that can be combined to give your custom contender his own unique style too. Upon entering career mode, you’ll be introduced to the exciting world of professional face-punching, joining the amateur WFA division where you first cut your teeth. Training between bouts is an essential activity, where you can add stat points prior to each fight and keep your skills and attributes sharp. Successful progression through the career mode will see you eventually earn a place alongside the real pros in the UFC. Your fighter now ages though, and as his skills decay if you don’t keep up a training regime, they’ll decay faster as your pugilist grows older too. Staying on top will be a challenge then, especially since your combatant can be kicked from the UFC back down to the WFA. Keep your spot in the UFC however, and you’ll attract sponsors and the more fights you win, the greater your notoriety will grow. And pre-fight events like weigh-ins allow you to disrespect or respect your rivals, which has ongoing consequences for your rep, as well as forming grudges between you and your fellow fighters. UFC Undisputed 2010 certainly feels smoother and more immediately gratifying to play than the 2009 edition, and the wealth of options and huge roster of fighters ought to make this a far deeper and involving fighting experience. Outside the Exhibition and Tournament modes we tried out, the career and customisation alone should make UFC Undisputed 2010 another great year for the franchise. How it will measure up against EA’s MMA title is still up in the air for now, but being the more established of the two and getting a head start with its release date will likely give THQ’s game the edge in this particular fight.
UFC Undisputed 2010 releases on May 25th.