It may be less than one year old, but THQ’s UFC Undisputed franchise is already one that is treated, by both the fans and the game’s creators alike, with impassioned and poker-faced seriousness. At last week’s launch event in London, the game’s producer Neven Dravinski was on-hand to commandeer an uncommonly lengthy and detailed presentation of the title. These things are usually polite, arbitrary waiting games that keep everyone from actually playing the game in question, but here the wealth of new information was delivered slowly to a room in which you could probably hear a pin drop.
As Dravinski meticulously discussed 2010’s new features – all of them backed up by humbled admissions that many of these aspects were fudged somewhat last time around – the realisation quietly dawned that these games are already starting to resemble EA’s marvelous FIFA series. Both franchises are crafted by teams of people who are clearly in mad love with the sport they work to approximate, and only perfection, or the biggest steps towards it, will suffice. For all its flaws, UFC Undisputed 2009 was many people’s game of last year. God only knows what those people are going to make of this one, because it’s looking completely bereft of the broken promises that sullied that one.
The focus on painstaking improvement and refinement has been applied to absolutely everything, but the ‘Create A Fighter’ mode appears to have had the most significant overhaul. Last time out the options were limited, allowing you the choice of just two specific fighting styles (one for standing and one for your ground game) but in UFC Undisputed 2010 there is a huge (and hugely comprehensive) database of attacks, submissions, taunts and celebrations to choose from, enabling you to do battle without any visible restrictions. Visual customisation has also been expanded, with long hair now an available option, and a tattoo (and logo) placement system that is far, far less rigid than it was in 2009.
One testament to how faithful and realistic these games are to the UFC sport is the way in which they have been roundly praised and supported by many of the athletes who take part in it. Some of the UFC’s biggest stars all lend their likenesses (and in some cases, their voices) as well as appearing to have been deeply involved in the motion capturing process. This enthusiasm was exemplified last week by the attendance of five of the UK’s top MMA fighters at the launch event; Paul Kelly, Ross Pearson, Andre Winner, Terry Etim and Nick Osipczak.
All five fighters appear genuinely exuberant when speaking about the new game, and following the conclusion of Dravinski’s presentation, Kelly and Etim stepped onto the stage for a bout on the Xbox 360 version. It was a close fight (and a surprisingly gripping one, which bodes well for the game’s potential status as perfect Saturday night pass-the-pad material) and it displayed the exceptionally smooth collision physics in outstanding style: the thunderous knockout blow was loudly soundtracked by a whooping chorus of approval from the audience.
Hands-on time for almost everyone at the event was centred around a series of retakes of the recent Georges St Pierre and Dan Hardy bout at UFC 111, and our three rematches displayed two things above all else. Firstly, the way in which each fighter’s stance and style has been reproduced is astounding. It not only looks uncanny (even up close) but it feels as if the outcome of the fight, were it to have taken place between two players equally skilled in each (vastly different) fighting style, could have been eerily similar to the unforgettable spectacle that took place in New Jersey back in March.
And secondly, the new ‘Sway System’, which enables you to bob and weave (and dodge the blows of your opponent) not only adds to the utterly disarming realism of the visuals, but it ramps up the number of opportunities for acute tactical play. Because the octagon’s outer cage is now completely interactive, those who like to partake in a bit of dirty boxing are able to do exactly that, provided they have the skills to bully their way in. And although it wasn’t explicitly evident during the games we took part in, Sway can apparently also be used to create countering breaks. The prospects are tantalising.
Although the PS3 version has some juicy extras – in the shape of three exclusive characters, and five classic Blu-Ray quality fights – both versions look identical. Online has been expanded to include clan-like fight camps, dramatic camera zooms have been implemented to denote the severity of a submission (a HUGE improvement) and your created fighter now has his own voice (of your choosing) that you can use to dignify or degrade your opponents during pre-match hype events. If all of this has gotten you excited, then join the club. It’s a gross understatement to say that UFC Undisputed 2010 already looks like one of the year’s very best videogames.
Click on one of the links below to download a UFC 2010: Undisputed wallpaper…
Watch the UFC 2010: Undisputed trailer here…