Established from the get-go as a thoroughly hardcore proposition, THQ’s excellent UFC Undisputed series has consequently been lacking in something rather important: an entry level gateway for casual gamers. By implementing a brand new submission system (which couldn’t be any simpler if it was fully automatic) and an abridged control option, developer Yuke’s has finally delivered something than any UFC fanatic can comfortably get to grips with almost immediately. Instead of the complicated series of gestures that you needed to employ when using the series’ patented ‘Pro’ set-up, the ‘Amateur’ control scheme merely utilises four simple ones; up, down, right and left on the right thumbstick. Ground transitions were always the most intimidating aspect of these games, but this system streamlines them into a simple and totally manageable state.
As expected, the combat is significantly more authentic than it was last time. Some additions to the move roster add authenticity merely by being included – a handful of new submissions that were inexplicably absent previously, and the ability to execute leg-kick TKO’s – and others cultivate the number of tactical options open to you. If you’ve ever been locked under a full mount by an opponent with an almost Jedi-like ability to counter all of your attempts at a guard pass, the new ability to sway from strikes when you’re on the ground means that being pummelled into submission no longer feels like a forgone conclusion. Yuke’s have also made it one hell of a lot easier to get out of a clinch, something which (in the first game especially) could sometimes feel almost impossible.
It’s also well worth pointing out that UFC Undisputed 3 is essentially two games in one, with the extensive new Pride mode being both a welcome gift for armchair MMA historians, and a boon for players who are more partial to the stand-up side of a bout. The now-defunct Pride organisation may have been far too extreme for some – when you’re on the deck, knees and kicks to the head are fair game – but its era of Eastern dominance is faultlessly recreated (superb video content is prevalent on both sides of the fence) and if nothing else, the mode serves as a great excuse to bring the ceaselessly entertaining Dutch oddball Bas Rutten on board. Back in 2010 Rutten also appeared in EA’s absurdly underrated EA MMA, and this isn’t the only thing that Yuke’s has borrowed from their short-lived genre competitor.
Clearly inspired by EA MMA is one of Undisputed 3’s best new features; the red vs blue, cat-and-mouse style submission system. Aside from the fact that it’s simply more enjoyable than the haphazard stick bashing of the past two instalments, you also won’t ever be left feeling cheated by it. The create-a-fighter mode is still somewhat limited, and technically the game isn’t perfect; for example, thanks to excessive loading times, getting out and then back into Exhibition matches takes the best part of an entire minute. For all of its many successes, UFC Undisputed 3 is the most recent example of a game that ineffably suggests that we’re finally ready for new console hardware, so with any luck our next dose of Undisputed action won’t appear until the next generation. For now though, this is a package that definitely shouldn’t be sneezed at; with two new weight classes, shareable highlight reels, a roster of 150 fighters and a newly uncluttered career mode, it’s all a bit of a knockout.
UFC Undisputed 3 is available now on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Watch the trailer for UFC Undisputed 3 below: