Review - UFC: Undisputed 3 (Xbox 360 version tested)
Here we are with another fighting game on the next-gen consoles. But this one has a little more realism than most - it's based on the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC. The world's toughest fighters duke it out in the UFC week in week out, hoping to knock out, choke out or get a tap out of their opponents. Punches, kicks, throws, locks and grappling all have to be mastered by the best fighters - now THQ has released a game full of detail and accuracy based on this.
The aim is to create a fighter of your own - design their shape, size, appearance and fighting style. Your fighter can major in boxing, grappling, throwing and more - but the aim is to master all of these skills. Once you have designed your fighter and picked a weight class - it's time to start training. The game has a deep selection of training and practice techniques, set in many of the best-known MMA gyms in the world. Here you can learn all of the game's many controls, improve your fighter's condition and performance, set favourite techniques and more.
The depth here is extremely impressive - the detail you can put into your practice is as obsessive as you make it. Between training sessions it is possible to watch other fights on the UFC tour - to watch and learn how other fighters win and lose. Then you can hit the gym again - with instruction and tuition videos, gradually unlocked.
Eventually it can be put off no longer - time to book your first fight. The game offers a choice of opponents you can approach to fight. The reputation you can gain is proportional to their skill. You can pick a small, easy opponent or the biggest, best fighter available. And - that first fight will probably end with you losing. No matter how much you try and practice punches, kicks, clinches, throws, whatever - the computer will find something you haven't mastered yet and beat you with it!
So with gritted teeth, back to the gym you go - determined to patch up that weak area in your fighter's make up. The second fight usually goes a bit better - and slowly - victories are possible. Win enough fights and it's possible to switch to a heavier weight class. If your fighter is suffering a bad run of luck, there is no shame in dropping down a weight division for a while.
It's a tough game, but a rewarding one - and you get out of it exactly what you put into it. This an either be exactly what you're looking for in a game - or it could be the antithesis of what leisure-time videogaming should be. I like it - get knocked down seven times, get up eight as the saying goes. This type of challenge brings out the bloody-minded compulsive in me.
As previously mentioned, the game features many UFC fighters, from the latest guys I've never heard of to all-time greats like Royce Gracie. The world's top venues are present (it's nice to be able to fight in the O2 Arena) and the game has excellent online multiplayer. This is one more reason to train, train and train again - if your fighter has any weaknesses - you will have your virtual ass handed to you via these. The graphics are excellent, there is a wealth of video and information to absorb - it's manna for a UFC fan.
Gripes? Well, for all it's realism - there is one part in every fight where you can try and pull off a submission move. If your fighter has managed to throw / grapple the opponent to the ground - then it is possible to attempt this - usually grabbing a limb and locking it out until the pain is so unbearable the opponent taps out. So far so good, but the realism suddenly evaporates oncufce the lock is on - an octagon is displayed on the screen, with one red section and one blue section. The opposing coloured section moves around this octagon and the aim is to cover it up with yours? I guess it's difficult to pull off - like a real submission must be.
But the only other proviso is it's not for the faint hearted. The game is tough, deep and obsessive in it's detail. If you don't particularly like UFC or can't take a challenge then this may not be the game for you. If you're up for it, if you're prepared to take your licks and learn the hard way then this is a pretty impressive game - and one that will provide an enduring challenge that should keep delivering enjoyment for a long time.
UFC: Undisputed 3 is out now for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3