Let’s get this out before the review even starts. I do not watch UFC or any of its cage-matched variants. Never have, likely never will. I don’t watch boxing for many of the same reasons, the biggest being that it’s a sport I can’t really understand and don’t really care to. Pummeling someone until their face collapses or twisting an arm to the breaking point just doesn’t sound like something I’d like to do. But give me a high-caliber boxing game like Fight Night Round 3, and I will eat that up. UFC is an entirely different beast than a simple boxing game though, thanks to how the fights progress. Some fights do turn into a brawl, with kicks and punches thrown almost exclusively, while many more end up with both combatants on the mat in various stages of attacks, counterattacks and attempted submission holds. This multifaceted approach to a fighting game opens up the potential for game developers to really miss a lot of marks — think back to games that tried to link a driving portion with action, such as the abysmal Enter the Matrix. Thankfully, the team at THQ has a good background in wrestling titles already, which is immediately apparent in the fantastic UFC 2009 Undisputed.
As with most games of this genre, there is an included Career mode — and like so many other games, it packs in the bare essentials and gets you to where you really want to be: in the cage. While working your way through a career with a created player, you’ll start out way down at the bottom of the ladder with poor skills, strength, speed and stamina. The first couple of fights are thankfully against opponents whose skill level matches your own, so they are fair. That being said, between fights you have a period of time available to train, rest or spar to increase your skills. In doing this you can quickly become a powerhouse capable of taking down almost any opponent with your powerful strikes, if that’s the type of fighter you choose to build.
While kicking some serious ass with your feet, knees and elbows is a satisfying way to climb the ladder to the title bout, you quickly will realize that the ground game is a very important part — as it is in the real-life UFC. Soon opponents will immediately take you down to the ground, begin to beat the living crap out of you and throw you in some really tough-to-get-out-of submission holds. If you didn’t take advantage of the tutorial mode or quit before you made it to the grappling section, I’d highly suggest you redo it or the game will feel like you are simply flailing to try and counter a move. In reality, the system is highly learnable, effective and makes sense in a strange way.
Sports games and wresting-type games in general have always seemed to have an issue with clipping, because I’d imagine it’s pretty tough to map a human body so closely and track each and every limb or surface. THQ really did something right with UFC 2009 Undisputed, as I notice almost zero clipping issues, and the collision detection was nothing short of top notch. Kicks the mid section all performed differently depending on what part of my leg did the hitting, and where on the body it hit. This attention to detail really added some depth to the realism of the title. Well, that and the insanely accurate human reproductions in the game.
I played through the title in the light heavyweight division, and seeing some of the real faces so well-reproduced was a little scary. Right down to the tiniest tattoo, the real-world fighters are represented in the game. I heard a story about one fighter whose luscious locks in real life caused some clipping issues, so THQ asked him to cut his hair. He refused, and rather than compromise the quality of the game they opted to not keep him on the roster. Now that’s what I like to hear!
The only real downsides I can find in UFC 2009 Undisputed would be the somewhat tedious career options in which you read emails to line-up photo shoots or autograph sessions. These side items are not playable sections, but merely take up a week of your training time for a small bump in cred rankings, which is used to unlock better advertisers which earns you — get this — more cred! Another poor choice is the forced installation on the PS3, which resulted in what I could tell was a minimal increase in load times. There were still waits of 15 seconds or more to get into the customization options, and fight load times still were somewhat high.
Seeing as the demo of Fight Night Round 4 has recently come out, it was easy to make a quick comparison on the two titles. For my gaming dollar, UFC 2009 Undisputed has the upper hand in that matchup. Tight controls, a fantastic grappling system combined with a top-notch boxing system lead to the one fighting game that is sure to stay in my collection for those days I need to beat the hell out of someone legally.
- Score: 9
- Great graphics, tight controls, plenty of fighters and a great online community make for a game with great lasting appeal.
— Jeff Paramchuk