UFC Undisputed 3 Preview Event Coverage -- by Charles Boucher|
UFC Undisputed 3 might have a bit of a self-congratulatory name, but it's hard to argue against it being on the top of the heap. As the one series of mixed martial arts games to stand the test of time, its certainly earned the name, and the current installment looks to continue the trend.
But, if you're reading this article, you're probably already aware of that. I mean, you're looking for the deal on the new game. And here it is: It's pretty great. Every impact feels heavy, new readouts and modes let you run everything from competitive tournament play to realistic simulations, and even the computer matches are great to watch. Undisputed 3 might have taken a break from the series' previous yearly roots, but the extra time added up to a game that takes what worked from previous years, and made it better.
Really, the focus with Undisputed 3 is on variety. New players who can't handle the advanced transitions can switch to a simpler control scheme, letting them change their position in grapples or on the ground with the flick of a joystick. It'll be easier for veterans to counter their moves, without the ability to fake out or abandon a risky move, but for people who just end up spinning their analogue sticks wildly, it'll help them get themselves comfortable with the game.
The game's character customization shines through as well. With footwork separated from attack speed and top and bottom grappling differentiated from one another stat wise, players will have more room to define their fighter's personal style. Meanwhile, the visual customization gives you the ability to recreate yourself, your favorite fighters, or some genuinely terrifying freaks of nature.
I played a Muay Thai fighter, and as the career mode went on, pulled my special moves from an array of different schools, from various camps of fighters. By the end of my play session, I was throwing spinning backhands, launching devastating knees to the chin, and smashing my heel into opponents' foreheads. While getting to the point where you can really get into customizing your fighter's move sets and building up a set of signature moves takes a while, and I wasn't able to experiment with boxing, wrestling, or other styles of combat to see how they measured up, it's pretty clear that fighters can end up rather different from one another.
It might not scream excitement at first, but the biggest addition of the year is probably the way the game teaches you to play. While there are semi-intrusive tutorials when you first start up the game, telling you how to punch, kick and grapple, the real meat of the game's teaching comes mid-match. As you fight, in addition to the announcer, your corner man gives you context-sensitive hints. Between rounds, your trainer will point out the strong and weak points in your strategy. The pointers went a long way towards making me more aware of how I played, improving my game quite a bit.
Another fantastic new option included the fighter HUD, which included a paper doll damage display, shading body parts redder as they get damaged, as well as a stamina meter. While a small addition, the extra information makes a huge difference when planning out your moves and it definitely beats looking at the player models to check out their cuts, bumps and bruises.
That said, you'll still want to check out the player models, if only for how well-rendered they are. Each scar, mark and tattoo on every fighter is represented, and their models, skins, and animations are so fantastically put together that when footage of the game and footage of real life fights were projected at the event, I often had trouble telling them apart at first glance. Put simply, this is an incredibly pretty game.
When playing through the career mode, in addition to training your stats and leaning new signature moves, you can also formulate game plans for fights. Each game plan outlines a rough strategy for the fight, gives you certain goals to meet, and alters your stats, raising some and lowering others, giving you a great way to prepare for fighters that you're not quite ready for. Against a wrestler, you might take Lay and Pray in order to help your ground game out, or adopt an aggressive strategy in order to beat your opponent down before he can take you off your feet.
As you progress in your career, you'll graduate from a small-time league into the UFC, and eventually get invited to occasional matches in Pride. While UFC matches are the standard, Pride almost feels like a game in and of itself, with its own announcers, roped rings instead of caged octagons, and brutally lenient rules. As long as you don't go for the eyes, spine or groin, it goes in Pride, and we saw a few of the grueling ten minute first rounds of Pride have moments when a downed fighter desperately rolled back and forth on the ground as his opponent tried to stomp on his head.
And when you're done with matches, you can either assemble a highlight reel to be uploaded online, or else tell the game to automatically assemble a reel of your best moments. While I didn't get to try this out, on account of not wanting to sit there as the game rendered the video, it looks like it'll be a great option for hardcore players who want to take their games online.
Really, that's what UFC Undisputed 3 is all about: Great options surrounding solid core gameplay. Whether you're new player, ready to be taught what the game has to offer or a veteran coming back for the myriad improvements or additions, a competitive fighter looking for a balanced playing field to match skills or a huge fan of the sport coming in for the 150 fighters represented at different points in their career, the game's got something for everyone who could possibly be interested in it.