Reviewed: May 12, 2004
Released: April 21, 2004
Ah, the days of street fights and bar room brawls. Who could forget watching their first Ultimate Fighting Championship match? The blood, sweat, and tears, all with flesh pounding hits to the head so brutal, it’d send the Rock running back to the kitchen crying.
For those uninformed, UFC is a no holds barred fighting match where the best of the best duke it out using a variety of styles ranging from jiu-jitsu, judo, capoeria, karate, kickboxing, and of course wrestling.
The distinction of UFC from your usual WWF circus show is that the fighters fight bare-knuckles, with no protective gear, with real punches/chokes versus hair pulls and slaps to the face. It’s about as close you can get to a real street fight without all the bar room banter. With that in mind, Global Star Software gives us the same experience on the PS2 with UFC: Sudden Impact. UFC: Sudden Impact picks up from previous UFC titles; though I’ve never tried any of the previous ones, the general consensus seems that they are more or less better than this version.
Players get to choose from real UFC fighters, all with various fighting styles and signature combinations. There are a total of 35 including the locked ones, and you start out with 16. The most notable of the bunch is Tito Ortiz, previous Octagon champ. He along with a few of his fellow fighters look rather impressive on TV and in the film Cradle 2 the Grave starring Jet Li. Unfortunately, their fighting skill is done a bit of injustice as the moves and combinations seem a bit choppy and repetitive.
There is however a number of grapples, locks, takedowns, and devastating attack combos. As I played more and more, I found it quite satisfying tackling my opponent and either pummeling his(and in one case, her) head in or making them “tapout” by stretching their neck or leg into submission.
The fights were usually over very quickly by either punching/kicking repeatedly or tackling your opponent from the get-go and letting them have it. This was good in the sense that you could storm through a string of opponents and climb up the charts in a quick fashion. The downside to this was that there was less of a chance to appreciate the array of combos and strategy involved.
I bulldozed my way past the first 10 or so fighters essentially using the same ‘strategy’: endless button mashing while the opponent merely let me smash their face in or tackling them and trying to do a choke hold. This was the quickest method, usually less than a minute. Real UFC fights can be over rather quickly, but it got rather boring using the same punches/kicks over and over again.
Once the opponents became a tad more challenging, there was little I could do once he (and rarely, she) tackled me. Despite my repeated attempts to do a reversal or block, I was mincemeat. And once the fight is over, you essentially have to start over from the beginning, with no chance to continue. The AI could use a bit of tweaking. Another drawback was the inability to skip through the judge’s announcement of the winner at the end of each match. Though the feeling of winning elated me at first, hearing my fighter’s name every few minutes and not being able to skip through it became both frustrating and annoying.
UFC: Sudden Impact offers five different modes, though typical with any fighting title: Arcade, Champion Road, Tournament, Versus, Story, and Training. Tournament mode seemed interesting, but this is only with a group of friends. It’s an 8 player elimination match where the characters are controlled by player or CPU. On that note, the most rewarding mode is of course the versus; UFC SI’s crowning moments are best shared with friends close and not so close, where you can settle your differences street-style.
I found that the Story mode had the most potential. In this mode, you can create a custom fighter who trains during a 3 year period, upon which you can enter your pet project into the tournament and see how he stacks against the best of them. There was a surprisingly high amount of depth involved: everything from the type of clothes and skin tone to the music and gestures your player makes during his entrance into the ring was customizable.
Unfortunately, despite the high potential, the story mode was tedious and unrewarding. If you failed to execute a combo properly, it would still be in your arsenal, but with weaker power, and no chance to retrain the move. The training challenges were mundane as they involved hitting a punching bag at the right time to match the spinning meter that reads from “bad to good”. Somehow I felt that 3 years of UFC training should have prepared one for more than a simple carnival game.
As mentioned before, the amount of combinations, fighting situations, and depth of moves was impressive, but were rarely witnessed/used during an actual fight. Whereas previous wrestling/fighting games gave us a chance to test out our own signature moves, UFC falls short in that department by limiting us to overly quick fights and little room to execute the potential combos.
The overall character design and body mold are fairly accurate to their real-life counterparts. However, the facial details look drastically different from the photos shown of each fighter before the match. For a minute I thought somehow Eminem led a secret life as a UFC fighter, until upon closer inspection I realized it was in fact my man Tito Ortiz.
The blood, cuts, and bruises are pretty realistic as you can see your opponent’s body/face turn red with each hit. The fighting animations were smooth enough to look realistic, but when used in actual gameplay, they looked stuttered and stiff.
Also, the background rendering definitely needed a touchup or two. The crowd was barely visible and distinguishable. They literally looked like cardboard cutouts of fans waving their arms up and down. Nevertheless, the textures and shading on the character’s body mold were nicely detailed and drawn out.
There isn’t too much of a soundtrack in UFC SI, with the exception of the title screen and player entrances. The opening title soundtrack is exciting and pumps you up, as do the player entrances, however at the end of the match, the pseudo rock/WWF style music track became a tad out of place and annoying. The rest of the sound is simply the grunts and noises of the fighters as well as the sound of impact.
The best part of the sound is the sound of your hits and bone crunching against bone. You can really hear the flesh being pounded and adds to an overall great fighting experience. Another bonus is the occasional fan chanting your fighter’s name when he executes a slick combo in succession.
UFC: Sudden Impact holds up as a decent wrestling/fighting title, with a few features that keep it interesting for a week or two. The incentive of unlocking all the fighters is really the only reason to keep playing however. This will mostly appeal to die-hard UFC fans, otherwise it’s only worth a rental if you want to try something new, or you and your friends want to duke it out in a die-hard fashion.
UFC: Sudden Impact is mainly geared towards its fans. It doesn’t seem to differentiate itself much from previous UFC titles, and the previous ones seemed to fair better with both UFC fans and non-fans alike. Essentially, there’s no reason to rush out and grab this unless you have to complete your UFC collection. It’s only appeal lies in playing with your friends and settling a grudge match. The stilted and repetitive gameplay may bore you quickly, and even more so played solo.