UFC Undisputed 2010 Preview Event|
Written by David Hillyer
May 8, 2010
THQ held a fantastic press event last week in Las Vegas. Various press outlets were invited to attend the private event and Game Chronicles sent me to report on the unveiling of UFC Undisputed 2010. Little did I know the workout I would soon be undertaking.
I flew from Indianapolis to Las Vegas. Well, I tried to. When my plane arrived, the Las Vegas airport was closed due to a sandstorm! After a brief refueling stop in Phoenix we shot back up to Vegas and after an interesting landing in 40 mph crosswinds, I was picked up by limo and taken to The Palms to recover the blood flow to my white knuckles.
The next morning the press was treated to breakfast at Little Buddha restaurant before we were taken by private shuttle to the UFC gym. We were greeted by our trainers for the day. It turned out they are three of the top MMA trainers in the world: Marc Laimon, Dave Gifford, and Tom Hopkins.
After a quick warmup, we were putting on official UFC gloves and starting our training. First stop was on the wrestling mat for a little ground work with Marc Laimon. Mark is highly skilled at Jiu Jitsui and other wrestling style disciplines. He enlisted UFC fighter Johny Hendricks to help show several submission moves. After the press group were getting all sweaty, we were moved to the next training station.
At the next station we were instructed by trainer Dave Gifford and UFC heavyweight fighter Todd Duffee on using punching bags to practice several combination strikes. Then we were put in a boxing ring to practice our mobility and footwork with UFC fighter Carlos Condit. By this time the press group was showing signs of exhaustion. Playing videogames doesn't quite prepare anyone for the real deal. Lastly our group went in the octagon with energetic trainer Tom Hopkins. There we learned several more striking moves and combinations. UFC fighter Sam Stout joined us to demonstrate some moves as well.
To finish off our session at the gym we had a press conference with a panel of UFC fighters including Todd Duffee, Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir, Sam Stout, Johny Hendricks, Carlos Condit, and Antonio Nogueria. Surprisingly, the panel of fighters were quite well spoken and certainly didn't come across as stereotype cement-head goons. Several of them are gamers and had insights into Natal, game ratings, and development. The quote of the day came from Sam Stout. When asked why gamers should buy the UFC game instead of WWE, Stout quipped I think it comes down to do you wanna pretend to fight for real, or do you wanna pretend to fight for pretend?
Later in the evening we were escorted to Hugh Hefner's suite on the top floor of The Palms where each media outlet was treated to their own UFC 2010 test unit. The view of Las Vegas was breathtaking and so was UFC Undisputed 2010. Game Chronicles was given a corner seat with a Playstation 3 and Samsung 1080p HDTV. There I sat for hours digging into this game looking to see just what had been fixed from last years game and what had been added or improved. I must say, UFC Undisputed 2010 is probably the best example of a developer listening to gamers and making a good game into an excellent game. Literally every problem I had with UFC 2009, from framerate issues to commentary to the submission system has been fixed or completely revamped. In short, UFC Undisputed 2010 may be the best fighting game ever.
I couldn't find a single item in this game that has been untouched from last year. UFC Undisputed 2010 has four times as many strikes, three times as many positions, and twice as many submission moves as last year. Every single returning position and submission has been completely reanimated.
First impressions mean a lot in job interviews and in videogames. Last year the menu system was a bit like an arcade game. It made me think this is a cartoon sport along the lines of WWE wrestling. This year the menus and overall presentation are light years ahead of 2009. UFC Undisputed 2010 sports a complete revamping of the look and feel of the game, matching the slick animations, wipes and presentation of a real UFC broadcast.
Once you get into the game, the framerate is on par with any sports game. Last year I noticed that the combos and particularly the ground game of submissions seemed somewhat 'canned' in other words they seemed preprogrammed and had some framerate issues. In UFC Undisputed 2010 the combos are unchained thereby allowing greater creativity for the player. All attacks, sways, shoots and other stances flow seamlessly into one another.
The create-a-fighter mode also has been significantly improved. In UFC 2009 you were given predefined locations for tatoos and logos could be placed. In 2010, THQ has implemented a drag and drop system where you can place graphics anywhere. Included in 2010 are 77 tat images, 23 tribal tats, 22 flags, and 12 scars. I spent nearly an hour creating a fighter and could have spent a lot more time.
For those really into customization, the fighter nicknames have gone from 10 to 50, and THQ has added support for 100 first and last names. Picking from those names will allow announcer Bruce Buffer to realistically voice the fights. You can also put in other names but they will not be announced. New to UFC 2010 you can also pick from 5 different voice types for your fighter to be used in interviews in career mode. Additionally I found that the commentary during fights was significantly improved. The announcers talk more about your fighter and less about the competition so it sounds much more realistic.
In probably the biggest area where THQ has listened to gamers, the Career Mode has been reworked to be more realistic and competitive than last year. The Career Mode has expanded from 7 years to a more realistic 12 years. Over that time frame players can expect to compete in 50 to 60 fights, nearly double last years limit.
THQ has also introduced a 'stat decay system' where you have to train to keep your stats up. But if you don't balance your training, some of your stats will decrease. So the proper balance of working on skills, attributes and techniques is vital to keep your fighter in prime shape for a title shot. When you start out your career you compete in 5 amateur fights before moving up to professional rank. You can use these fights to assess your skill level. THQ has implemented a sort of cheat fix where the difficulty level you choose will effect the amount of points you gain toward stat increases. So sandbaggers won't be so inclined to ramp up their stats quickly in rookie mode. It's a lot tougher to be good at UFC Undisputed 2010.
You start out as an amateur but quickly move up to WFA (World Fighting Alliance). This allows you to develop your fighter. Unlike 2009, you are not guaranteed an offer to fight in UFC events. You have to earn it. Once you win some fights in convincing fashion, Dana White and UFC might make you an offer. Then you compete on Ultimate Fight Night undercards hoping to make your way to the Main Card or Main Event. If you continue to do well you might be offered a spot in a Pay-per-view event and maybe even a shot at the title.
The presentation of UFC Undisputed 2010 is one of the biggest improvements. THQ has used the presentation assets from actual UFC events to create a television broadcast quality that rivals any sports title. In career mode, MMA trainer Marc Laimon is your coach. You will be treated to story based cutscenes with your fighter and various UFC personalities. Dana White stops by your dressing room, Joe Rogan hosts the interviews, and Rachelle Leah hosts UFC Up Close. Also new this year is the ability to watch other fights and check out your future competition.
Additionally in the career mode you have to navigate your fighters story. Based on your results you unlock sponsors. The more popular you are the better your sponsorships. During post fight interviews you are given a choice of response (similar to what you see in Mass Effect). Your popularity with fans, other fighters, and sponsors is effected by your response.
One of the features I was not able to test was Online Fight Camps. Similar to what you would see in FPS games, fight camps are groups whose progress is tracked as a team. It sounds similar to a guild or clan. When you create a camp, you can customize the logo. The camp banner is displayed behind the fighters in the octagon just as in real fights.
Classic Fights Mode from UFC 2009 has been evolved to Ultimate Fights Mode allowing players to relive some of the more memorable fights in UFC history. The main difference from last year is in 2010 there are Fight Categories and Multiple Challenges for each fight. You can also fight as the spoiler (the guy who lost in the real fight) which unlocks additional rewards. When you complete all the challenges, you unlock a montage recap of the actual fight.
For those of use playing on Playstation 3, we get several nice rewards. In classic fight mode we get 5 exclusive fights in addition to the standards. Exclusive to PS3 are Ultimate 2009: UFN 18 Carlos Condit vs Martin Kampmann, Ultimate Classics: UFC 60 Matt Hughes vs Royce Gracie and UFC 66 Keith Jardine vs Forrest Griffin, Ultimate Knockouts: UFC 102 Nate Marquardt vs Demian Maia, and Ultimate Submissions UFC 68 Martin Kampmann vs Drew McFredries.
Also exclusive to Playstation 3 are five movies of real fights. The exclusive PS3 fights are USC 94: George St. Piere vs BJ Penn II, UFC 79: Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva, UFC 98: Lyoto Machida vs Rashad Evans, UFC 100: Brock Lesnar vs Frank Mir II, and the classic Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonner from The Ultimate Fighter reality TV series.
The roster of fighters has also greatly increased from 41 to over 100 (including those in the create-a-fighter system). In addition to the 100 regular fighters, Playstation 3 owners get exclusive access to three UFC legends in Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Jenz Pulver. Also if you pre-order the game at Game Stop you will get a code to download four The Ultimate Fighter contestents in Brendan Schaub, Marcus Jones, James McSweeny, and Roy Big Country Nelson. I asked the developers if there were any plans for XBOX 360 owners and was told there may be additional hidden fighters revealed at a later date for both systems.
The UFC fighters and rankings in UFC Undisputed 2010 are as follows:
When asked about live ratings where the fighter ratings would reflect recent real life results (similar to what EA is doing with FIFA Soccer and other games), the developers said the game is capable of doing that but a decision has yet to be made on implementation.
The last event of my evening was a press tournament. The developers used UFC 2010's Tournament Mode to pit writer against writer. The mode provides a bracketed single elimination tournament for 1 to 16 players. I did not represent Game Chronicles well to say the least. Since I don't really follow UFC I was completely unaware of each fighters strengths which matters a great deal in this game. So my Rampage Jackson lasted a little over two minutes against Forrest Griffin. I was told this probably is not how things would have been in real life, but after landing a couple punches I got tackled and Griffin pinned me. So I enjoyed the view of Las Vegas from Hef's suite and returned to my room late in the evening after a fun day of workouts, conversations and gaming.
Two of the fighters at the event will be fighting May 8 in UFC 113 on pay-per-view. Sam Stout (16-5-1) and Johny Hendricks (7-0-0) will be taking on tough opponents. Then in UFC 114 on May 29th Todd Duffee (6-0-0) will be fighting too. I've never really paid much attention to UFC but having met some of the fighters, I will be finding a local bar showing the events. You never know... by the time UFC Undisputed 2010 hits the shelves on May 25th, I may be UFC's newest fan!
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