UFC Undisputed 3

9.5 Overall Score
Roster: 10/10
Presentation: 9/10
Replayability: 9/10

Most immersive sports sim to date.

Training could give more instruction.

Written by on February 22, 2012 in [, , , , , , , , , , , ]

There is a moment when I am playing a great game in which I realize that I am playing something special. That moment is different for every game that has one and for UFC Undisputed 3 it was in an extremely surprising place.

I had dominated the World Fighting Alliance, winning my last five fights and had won the Heavyweight Title. The UFC had seen my progress and thought it would be a good time to offer me a contract to fight on one of their Friday Fight Night shows. I declined, hoping for a better offer and went on to defend my title in the WFA, dominating my opponent. Again, the UFC took notice and upped the offer. I was now offered a fight on the Pay Per View card and I accepted, ready to make my name known.

It had been a long road to where I was today. I had spent countless hours in the gym, training and learning more punishing maneuvers with the fine trainers at Wolfslair. I had learned many lessons the hard way about the importance of speed, footwork, and effective blocking. I was ready for the big time.

At the very least, this is what I had thought.

I was exhilarated. I was announced by Bruce Buffer and my banner was unfolded behind me. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg began postulating what my career path may be as I touched gloves with my opponent. Then I got kicked in the head, tackled and beat to a pulp.

It was magical.

Unlike other fight simulation games, I knew what went wrong immediately. I went back into the gym and worked on stopping a takedown and fighting while being under my opponent on the ground.

Undisputed 3’s Career Mode makes you feel like you have a connection to the sport in a way that I haven’t experienced before. The Career Mode begins with a robust creation system that allows a reasonable facsimile of yourself to be carefully crafted from scratch. In my case; however, I settled with looking like the “Macho Man” Randy Savage in boxer shorts. I was a little disappointed with the lack of comical 1980’s style sunglasses, but I digress.

From there, the game becomes a sports role playing game of sorts. You select a fighting style with pros and cons to each of them. You then go to the gym to train and level up either your fighter’s attributes such as strength, cardio, footwork, and speed or his individual moves. You can spend hours training before your first fight until you think you are ready. Once you complete this training, you spar to see what difficulty setting you should compete in, but don’t worry because you can opt to not take the game’s advice.

At first, I became a little irritated that certain goals were not met with a corresponding achievement; however, as you progress you unlock videos showing real UFC fighters talking about their experiences when facing the challenges that the game puts you in. Talking about their first fight, first win, first loss, and other accomplishments, you almost feel as if you have the veteran in the gym giving you insight and advice. These videos, while at first seemed like normal sports game filler became an integral part of my enjoyment as it made me feel like that these gym mini games weren’t just mini games, but necessary and something all successful fighters must go through.

The game’s Career Mode allows you to decide whom you want to fight at the start of your fight week. Once you decide whether or not you want to try to fight your way up the rankings or hone your skills with a lower ranked fighter. At this point you are allowed a set number of actions that you can perform to raise your abilities before facing this week’s opponent. You can challenge yourself to win a sparring session in a specific way to give you a stat boost, play training mini games to work on specific attributes, or learn moves and hone the existing ones in your arsenal. This system leaves you open to build a fighter to live up to any specialty and competency level that you could imagine if you are willing to put in the work. It also allows you to work on flaws in your in-ring strategy such as the ground game training I needed after humiliating myself in my UFC debut.

As you progress up the ladder of MMA success, you are given opportunities to join fight camps which allow you to train in a certain style based on each gym’s approach to MMA. You will take on sponsors which help boost your in game currency to buy gear, new training programs, and sparring partners. You will even get the cover of magazines and win awards at the end of the year.

While, the career mode sounds like it could be overwhelming to someone just jumping into this type of game for the first time, Undisputed 3 gives you a lengthy tutorial to explain the game mechanics and holds your hand through the process at first. The controls are easy to understand and have two modes, Pro and Amateur, that change the transfer system from either elaborate right stick swipes (Pro) or pushing the right stick in any direction (Amateur). Either mode works fine and it didn’t change my enjoyment to use one over the other.

Submissions have always proved to be difficult to figure out in game form, so the new submission HUD makes it easy to understand how and why you tapped out or a hold was broken. It’s not a perfect solution as it amounts to chasing each other’s icons around the screen. It’s still better than anything else I’ve seen.

Career mode is not the only mode in Undisputed 3, regardless of my rambling praise for it. There is also the more casual gamer friendly Tournament Mode, which is self explanatory and an arcade fighter style mode that allows you to fight until you either lose three times or emerge with the belt. Winning the belt will unlock a new mode to defend the title.

Important fights and the Japanese Pride Fighting, complete with its own rule set have also been included to give you a sense of where the sport has been and how far it has come

During my review time with this title, THQ was reporting that there were server issues and they would be addressed soon, but I was able to find opponents and play lag free in several matches online. The feeling of beating a real world opponent always feels gratifying.

The game isn’t perfect, despite this love letter I have written. The training sections would be better if it would give you better instructions on how to accomplish certain tasks, especially the first time you do them. When learning new moves or leveling up existing ones, I wish my sparring partner wouldn’t come at me as if we were in a sanctioned pay per view match. I wish it would, at least, let me figure out the move first. It also takes forever for a highlight reel to be created automatically. I love the idea of sharing my triumphs, but thirty minutes where I can’t use my TV at all is a little on the ridiculous side.

I generally wouldn’t buy a game like this. Fight sims just do not excite me under normal circumstances. The issue I have with them is that I would either destroy every opponent without an issue or I would not be able to win a single match and I wouldn’t have any idea how I lost so quickly. I also don’t like the idea of playing through an RPG because the acts of leveling up, grinding, choosing your attributes and managing your stats all seem like enormous chores. It seems to me that the best way to cure me of this is to combine the two and do it well.

I’m not sure that I’m enough of a wordsmith to adequately explain how good I think UFC Undisputed 3 is other than to say that it is, without question, my favorite sports game on this console generation.


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Author: Wallace Phelps View all posts by

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