UFC Undisputed 3

A disturbing visceral experience.

By Daavpuke, Posted 18 Feb 2012

UFC Undisputed 3 is a game that comes out fighting, with a good amount of modes, tons of fighters and clean-cut visuals to support it. Not all fighter models are equally worked out, but those that are radiate from each pore and drop of sweat on their body. Athletes twist and turn naturally with every punch, grab and kick. Fans of the genre might even find it hard to persuade people of the athletic nature of the sport, as UFC 3 shows off a disturbing visceral experience. The gritty realism thrown into heavy hitters, opening a fighter’s flesh and spraying the mat with blood, is not for the squeamish at heart. Cameras stay up close as fighters use big sweeping motions and quick-thrust blows to create an even more powerful action scene.

The presentation is perfected outside the ring with big entrances, rousing introductions, well-designed interfaces and more. Stats and options are arranged neatly across a clear display, with a logical section for all parts. All elements keep the focus on the oncoming fight and that keeps players locked in. This is exactly how people should be pumped up for fights. It’s exactly like the real deal.

To ensure a complete ambience of reality, UFC 3 also makes use of clear and precise commentary from MMA greats. Joe Rogan, Mike Goldberg and Bas Rutten provide tons of witty, off the cuff lines as the fights progress, but also keep an exact overview. It helps to hear from ringside whether a fighter is badly injured or if any actions need to be taken urgently. The high point of this is that it all feels organic to the fight, which creates a powerful synergy between visuals and audio.

UFC Undisputed 3 - NoobFeed Review
Let the bodies hit the floor.

Fighting itself follows most of this enthusiasm. With an intuitive control scheme for attacking positions, players can unleash a barrage of moves. Each limb is connected to a button and transitioning between lighter and heavier attacks is merely a matter of adding movement. In reality, there is an astounding array of moves that can be applied and the basic yet elaborate use of controls makes the whole feel logical. It won’t be long before combinations start landing, from body to head and vice versa.

But creating all this room on the controller for offense leaves defense with little wiggle room and it’s exactly that wiggle that makes the defending game hard to enjoy. Getting the grapples down is still easy, but once the technical aspects come into play everything is shot overboard. Positioning and defending uses strange circular motions to order small or big transitions. How this works is vague and learning to use it will require tons of trial and error. Luckily, UFC 3 offers a way to simplify this, but even then guarding will stay a chore. Anticipation and reaction time to counter or block attacks is set to the least amount of time possible. Most of the anticipation will have to be used through telepathy before an attacks starts or at the first increment of a blow’s beginning. This is almost impossible to efficiently implement in a fighter’s repertoire.

UFC Undisputed 3 - NoobFeed Review
An example of a submission mini-game. Red is the attacker, blue has to escape.

There is one exception to this rule and that is the submission moves this sport is known for. Players undergoing tap-out trials trigger a small mini-game where lines chase each other across an octagon. The goal is to fill the bar in the middle or escape the attacker’s line and break free. It takes a little time to get the movement down, but once learned these submissions become an intense part of the fight.

After learning an elaborate tutorial that ultimately doesn’t do much for the overall experience, players can start taking on fights in many weight classes. While there are several modes, the most noteworthy are Title Mode, Career mode and a mode where players can recreate historic fights. The latter gives a set of conditions that need to be met in order to act out the fight as it happened. Luckily, this can be done in turns. Unfortunately, this mode is limited and the rest is locked away in downloadable content. Title Mode offers a ladder match power play with no additional fuss. Just pick an athlete and fight all the way to the top.

Career mode is the big piece, offering a slew of ways to make a name as a UFC champion, also available with a custom made fighter. Players can pick fights and view a ton of statistics In order to create a strategy. Before entering fights, they can use action points to complete training mini-games and improve their stats or learn and level up more powerful moves in one of the schools. In addition, they can perform a practice bout in order to formulate a game plan. This game plan raises stats to the strategy attributes required to win the fight, but comes at the price of having to meet requirements for it to work. In all, there’s a wide variety of ways to improve and along the way careers will be built on persistence and consistency in all fields of battle. Going through this, players can also unlock new gear and live action films.

But perhaps the most noticeable addition is the Pride tournament that switches up gameplay to an even more aggressive style of fighting. It does away with the UFC’s trademark Octagon and most of that championship’s rules. Knees, elbows and obliterating soccer kicks make this mode an adrenaline rush that has to be played to be taken in fully. UFC 3 figured a way to change a game’s pace to an even more action-packed pace and that’s commendable to say the least.

Lastly, there is the online mode where the action can be taken to human opponents. Sadly, it can be summed up as one word: insufficient. At the release date, the underline was already scrolling with apologies for servers not reacting and the game freezing up when players entered. Luckily, the singleplayer mode is really all anyone needs from this title.

UFC Undisputed 3 - NoobFeed Review
Brock Lesnar is in a heap of trouble here.

UFC Undisputed 3 is stern but fair. It’s one of the most challenging fighters out there, but has a good head on its shoulders and implements solid gameplay. And while it does trim the fat from the previous iterations, this rawest of brawlers is its own title. By creating a few new options and streamlining other boring elements, it creates a face of its own. Still, a few sizable flaws also enter the fight, causing some frustrations. But in general, this game is well-balanced and gratifying to boot.

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Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher(s): THQ
Developer(s): Yuke's
Genres: Sports
Themes: Fighting
Release Date: 2012-02-14

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