The Ultimate Fighting Championship has become one of the biggest sport organisations in the world, with televised events drawing millions of viewers. It’s a modern day gladiator contest, though with a lot less death than the ancient bouts of the Coliseum. The previous games – UFC Undisputed 2009 and UFC Undisputed 2010 – were both met with positive reviews but after its year and a half long break has the UFC game franchise returned as a contender or a has been?
The first thing that can be noted is that UFC Undisputed 3 is a lot more accessible for new players to the series than previous iterations. Instead of being thrown in to the deep end with the technical controls the series is known for there is a setting for Amateur controls that, for example, allow for much simpler transitions in take downs and clinches, changing position with a flick of the right analog stick instead of rotating it in different directions.[drop]As well as this change, the submission system has also been simplified. UFC Undisputed 3 introduces a mini game for submission battles which could be described as a game of tag. The attacker tries to gain the advantage and win by chasing the defender’s token around an Octagon display. Should the attacker keep within distance of the defender’s token before time runs out then they win. Should the defender stay away from the attacker’s token then they get out of the submission hold. It is a welcome addition to the franchise, though some may see it as an intrusion and something that can break the immersion of a fight.
UFC Undisputed 3’s fighting system has also been tuned up and improved upon. The addition of Swaying to avoid attacks and Feinting to help trick the opposition and set up combos really makes fights seems a lot more realistic and fluid, bringing out the technical aspects of MMA and allowing for a much better attacking and counter attacking style of play.
The cage also comes into more play this time round with the inclusion of being able to sit up against the cage, which comes in handy when defending against ground grapplers. Another addition are TKOs from leg attacks. Sustained attacks on the legs do carry penalties by themselves anyway, less successful takedowns being one, but TKOs occurring this way, though rare, further increases the game’s relation to real fights. There are also two new weight classes, featherweight and bantamweight.
The Career mode is both deep and simple. There is no story here, just your fighter, created or from the roster, and a whole host of people to fight. You start first with a mini tutorial which helps determine which difficulty you should play on. After that it’s off to the World Fighting Alliance, which really acts as a tutorial showing the various parts of the career mode, from choosing your opponent, training, working on a game plan and the shop, where you can purchase items and upgrades for your fighter.
The Career mode is deep in that you really have to keep an eye on the stats of your fighter, as well as those of the opposition. Fortunately, stat degradation does not make an appearance in UFC Undisputed 3, so this is easier to manage. Your stats are improved through various training modes like submission training or cage control and new moves, as well as their effectiveness, can also be trained at one of the Training camps, all based on real world locations.
However, some stats can suffer slightly if you do the same training repeatedly. Doing training manually also means you’ll get a better stat increase than if you allow it to happen automatically. As you progress through the career mode you’ll eventually have to choose to align yourself with one camp, once you have a few fights in the UFC, and the choice should be made on what your base style is to get the most improvement for your fighter.
My fighter had a Muay Thai base style and some kickboxing so I aligned with Black House, home of Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. As you make your way through the roster, increasing your rank, you’ll be invited to fight in Pride events. Another small touch is the inclusion of videos after passing certain milestones. You’ll see various UFC fighters, such as Urijah Faber and Jorge Rivera, talk about their first professional wins or losses or their training while the game loads. It’s a nice touch.
The Pride Fighting Championships used to be the biggest MMA organisation in the world before it was sold to Zuffa in 2007, who also own UFC. The difference between UFC and Pride is more than cosmetic. Pride takes place in a ring, similar to boxing, instead of the Octagon which requires a change in approach to fights. Pride matches can also last up to 20 minutes with the first round being 10 minutes while round two and three are five minutes.[drop2]UFC matches usually have a limit of three 5 minute rounds, unless a Championship fight which have five rounds. There is also the ban on using elbow strikes on an opponent’s face. However Pride is brutal and this can be witnessed through the ability to stomp on a downed opponent, something not allowed in UFC. The Pride mode is an inclusion that is worth exploring and offers a different style of competition to the UFC. There is also the opportunity to relive some classic matches from past UFC and Pride events, giving you the chance to change the outcome of any fight or let it conclude as it did in real life.
Multiplayer is also in UFC Undisputed 3 but you will need an Access Pass to play online. At the time of writing the servers were still experiencing some problems and disconnection from opponents was common, though the problems are being addressed, but when the online works it works well. Before getting into joining a fight you choose if you want to play UFC or Pride matches online. After that there’s the option for a Quick Match, where you’ll fight the first person available, Custom Match, where you can set some search criteria like weight class and Create Session, where you set all the fight criteria.
Fight Camps are also here and they act like a clan hub. Any fights you have online can go onto the Fight Camp record to show how your Camp stacks up against other Fight Camps around the world. When matches online occur you’ll usually face people with a similar rank to yourself, though on occasion you may pair up with someone who outranks you. Of course, there is also local multiplayer and that is incredibly fun when playing with friends.
- More accessible for newcomers
- Improved fight control
- No stat degradation
- Inclusion of Pride mode
- Deep fighter customisation
- Long load times between different menus and fights.
- Online server problems
UFC Undisputed 3 is the best MMA game available on the market, but like even the best fighters there is still room for a little improvement in a couple of areas. UFC fans will love it. Newcomers may come to love it due to the better accessibility the game offers. UFC Undisputed 3 has a good career mode but the strength really lies with facing other human opposition. This is not a simple brawler but a tactician’s fighting game, and on that note UFC Undisputed 3 deserves your attention.