I’ve now spent a couple of days playing THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2010 demo on PS3, so here’s my initial impressions of this years edition.
One of the first things that struck me (apart from my opponents fist) was the fact that fighters are no longer carbon copies of each other. They now have different stances and moves which immediately gives the game more depth and longevity.
There’s definitely now a feeling that you need to spend time getting to know each fighters idiosyncrasies in order to get the best out of them.
Lyoto Machida has been particularly well captured. His unorthadox style is instantly recognizable and feels notably different from the other fighters whether your playing as him or against him.
Improved Clinch System
A strong point of this years edition is the reworking of the clinch system which now works in a similar way to grappling on the mat with minor / major transitions. It’s a considerably more involving and tactical battle than the 2009 edition, and I can see it being utilized more frequently.
Using The Cage
Another excellent addition is the use of the cage. You can now press your opponent up against it, which restricts their movement and allows the use of some Randy Couture-Esque dirty boxing tactics which can be quite rewarding. The cage also feeds into the revamped clinch system so you’re constantly jockeying for an advantageous position.
Another side-benefit to the cage now being a factor is that your general positioning in the octagon now has added importance. If your a fighter who’s weak in the clinch then your going to want to keep the fight in the center of the octagon rather than risk getting trapped up against the cage.
One of the features I was most looking forward to this year was the ‘sway’ system, allowing you to bob and weave. To do this you hold R1 (on PS3) and flick the left stick in the direction you want to move. It’s not as easy to use as I had first anticipated, but maybe that’s a good thing.
It’s definitely a major addition to the stand-up game though as the counters that you can throw after avoiding an incoming punch this way are powerful, and can lead to knockouts. I also like the fact that when you’ve got your back pressed up against the cage your ability to sway is limited as it would be in real life.
No Tutorial In The Demo
I was disappointed that there wasn’t a tutorial in the demo this year. Personally I’d have traded the ‘tournament’ option in order to have that instead as there’s a considerable amount of new or revamped techniques to learn here. I can imagine a lot of the intricacies of the improvements to the 2010 edition are going to fly over most people’s heads.
I also think it might be an oversight on THQ’s part when you consider the amount of gamers who might be playing Undisputed for the first time. For a complete novice it’s likely to be a very confusing experience without some kind of guidance.
To be fair you can press the ‘start’ button which brings up a bewildering list of all the controls, but it’s a bit of an information overload and is far less helpful than the tutorial.
The submission system is still something of a sticking point for me. I understand THQ’s dilemma – submissions are a fight-ending move in the game so they can’t be too easy to pull off or else it affects the balancing of the game.
At the same time the idea that you have to really wear down an opponent before being able to obtain a successful submission isn’t true-to-life and devalues that aspect of the game a little.
I’m not quite convinced yet by the overall balancing of this year’s game. For example KO’s still come a little too frequently for my liking. While the threat that a knockout can come at any time adds to the tension and excitement, the fact that it’s very rare to have an epic three round war (such as the recent WEC’ 48 encounter between Garcia and Jung) is something of a disappointment.
I also felt like the kicks this year seem to do less damage, elbows do too much, and It might just be me but submission wise it seems like it’s way easier for the computer to submit you than it is the other way around.
Other things like Machida’s trip takedowns seem to be overpowered and I fear that’s going to lead to it being one of the moves people will spam to death online.
Overall the demo suggests that UFC Undisputed 2010 is certainly an improvement on last year’s debut.
I’m particularly happy about the opportunity for more varied and strategic game-play now that the clinch game has improved and the cage has become a factor.
I’m also really looking forward to creating my own unique fighter now that I’ve seen that each fighter has a more individualized feel than before, and wider range of possible moves.
UFC Undisputed 2010 isn’t perfect, I definitely have my complaints, but overall I think THQ are doing a fine job of translating the sport into a game that’s enjoyable to play, whether your a casual player who just wants to mash the buttons in the hope of getting a knockout, or your a dedicated fan who’s happy to invest the time needed to really master the full range of techniques and strategies on offer.