UFC Undisputed 2010
UFC Undisputed 2009 was perhaps the sleeper hit title of last year. Flying well below gamers’ radars prior to release, the title’s unique, complex take on the fast-emerging sport was an unequivocal commercial and critical success. A year later, with EA’s upcoming less-starry MMA release breathing down their necks, have publishers THQ done enough to ensure UFC’s sub-genre dominance? After all, only one can truly be crowned undisputed champion.
For newcomers, the main attraction to UFC’s sport/fighting gameplay is its complete mix of combat styles, where an entire fight can be swayed by a single right hook or the dominant fighter being taken to the ground, with new controls for gamers to wrest with while trying to overcome their opponent’s new-found momentum. It’s this constant ebb and flow and unpredictability (energy bars are invisible but can be activated) of each fight which has always been the key to the sports appeal and is once more at the fore front of the 2010 version.
The first major change players will notice after booting up UFC 2010 is the exemplary layer of polish which now coats the title, from much-improved menus to greater realised arenas, all of which (including new stadiums such as The O2) have an individual presence. Commentary is much improved also, whilst additional brands are no longer available in the career section for your customised fighter. In all it’s very much a case of THQ covering their bases before the arrival of EA’s rival, which should bear the developer’s customarily immaculate level of sparkle.
Gameplay-wise developer Yukes have been trumpeting enhanced grapping strategy and immediately you can tell the real difference from its predecessor – in many ways the grappling system feels completely redesigned. In UFC 2009 it seemed as if every battle was about looking for an opening to wrestle an opponent to the ground and using your surprise attack to quickly garner a dominant position to ground and pound. Here, standing clinches take on a much less throwaway role, with the grappling’s jostling for dominance similar to that of the ground game, with new ways to reinforce dominance, such as pressing your opponent against the octagon cage straight from the clinch. TKO finishes are also introduced so not every fight will be decided through submission or KO, which is a great touch.
UFC 2010’s Career Mode will be for many players the greatest time sink of their Undisputed experience and Yukes can’t be accused of skimping on the details – there’s a nearly incomprehensible level of depth and micro-management to the mode. Beginning in the real-life World Fighting Alliance (WFA), your chosen creation can be trained up to learn new moves, can manage their popularity (with optional taunts and post match dissing with your now-voiced character) and work their up to a UFC invite and much more.
One of the only real criticisms for the Career Mode is that in many ways the wealth of errands, from your training regimen to garnering sponsorships, will be bewildering and repetitive to less hardcore UFC fans, especially since they have bulked up in this edition – the training regimen especially. Fans who want the true UFC fighter experience instantly from their single player mode may lack the patience to micro-manage their fighters training routines or work their way up the WFA, let alone the UFC. For next year I would suggest an optional, streamlined Career Mode for casual fans or even the opportunity to go through the career of a playable UFC fighter, starting from their present-day records and reputation.
Outside of career mode, you’ll spend plenty of time online (make sure you keep your single-use download code for the privilege) either in basic match-ups or the new Camp Mode, which is essentially a way to form clans, with users being able to connect and train together to boost their overall ranked scores. Yukes have also added the ability to set up your own eight-fight PPV card in Event Mode, which is presented afterwards as if it were a singular, televised event. It’s a feature that harks back to N64 wrestling titles but feels fresh when presented in a more polished setting.
Despite these additions UFC Undisputed 2010 doesn’t really go out and try re-invent the wheel but it can be said that by building on last year’s solid foundations, there was never any need to. It is certainly a more nuanced, complete version of an already deep fighting system – which may result in a higher barrier of entry for newcomers, something that’s true of any successful fighter. If you’ve already been won over by last year’s instalment though, THQ and Yukes have delivered a solid sequel that serves a strong warning to any would-be competitors – two rounds are down and they have no intention of giving up the fight.
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