Features & News

Demo Impressions: UFC Undisputed 3

January 30, 2012, Author: Phil Ubee

UFC appears to be a bit like Marmite in that you either love it or hate it. To its fans, the skill and strength of its hybrid fighters, matched with the sheer brutality of the sport make it a must-watch spectacle. To its detractors, that same brutality is often used as the stick to beat it with.

Personally, I have to admit I have never really been taken in by a sport that seems to mix the grace and strategy of top class boxing with an element of school ground wrestling, but having never really watched it I can’t categorically say which side of the fence I sit.

The fact is, whichever camp you’re in, UFC is increasingly popular and has all the ingredients for a really special video-game, which brings me to the point of this little aside. UFC Undisputed 3 looks to bring you all the action and intensity of the real life sport without the cuts and bruises you’d get if you took to the “ring”.

With a rather ironic Valentine’s Day release ahead, I’ve been getting hands on with the XBLA demo to see if it’s any good.

There are two game modes in the demo, UFC and Pride, which, as far as the demo itself goes, play exactly the same. The only difference at this stage is that Pride is played out in a traditional four-sided ring, while UFC is in an Octagon. Each mode offers two fighters to choose from and a single round bout to get to grips with what the game has to offer.

In UFC, the fighters on offer are Jon Jones or Anderson Silva. Having chosen your corner and your fighter, you can then alter a few settings, such as the Difficulty, Game Rules or the Energy Setting,s which can make the game even harder than it is with the defaults. These options remain the same in Pride with the fighters on offer being Quinton Jackson or Wanderlei Silva.

In your face!!

The polish and presentation is very good throughout the demo, matching up to any of the top Sports titles on Xbox 360, with what appear to be now standardised menus, a nice, high-beat menu soundtrack and every sports game’s Achilles heel; the play-by-play commentary. In fairness to UFCU3, in the short bouts, the commentary comes across pretty well, giving the novice fighter like me a few pointers while following the action pretty well and not repeating itself too much.

Visually UFCU3 is also looking pretty tidy with some very well rendered fighters, easily recognisable to fans of the sport. Each fighter has their ring walk recreated in-game and the fans ringside are full of life.

The gameplay itself also comes across very well in this demo. There are some on-screen tips that pop up at the start of each fight (which you can turn off in the menu) and these run you through the basics. The face buttons are used to strike your opponent. X and Y are used for left and right punches, while the lower buttons A and B are left and right kicks. This works pretty well as a starting point but using a combination of these alone will get you nowhere fast.

UFC or S&M, you decide.

LT and a face button makes your character attack the body while LB forces a technique strike, which will vary depending on your chosen combatant and his specialist style. Blocking is controlled on the right shoulder buttons with RB blocking head and RT blocking body. Although you can just hold these down to protect your fighter, this will only give you limited success, the art of blocking is in good timing, which will then open your opponent up for a counter that might allow you to stun them or trip them for a big advantage.

Any fans of the sport will know that fights are often won and lost in grapple and that is no different here. Moving the right stick towards your opponent will enter a grapple and you can throw punches and kicks on the inside with the same face buttons as before. Each fighter is also capable of a few throws and are performed by holding LB and using the right stick which, when moved, transitions your fighter in hold. Switching your grip position and body position in this way allows you to continue to attack while continuously manipulating your opponent so it is more difficult for them to block and counter.

This is a fairly complex system that at times has left my thumbs and fingers in knots, but a little practice and patience offers a huge amount of control over your character. That said, the flip side is that when on the defensive and in a grapple on the floor, it can be incredibly difficult to counter and work your way free or into a position where you can attack.

Ok, enough already.

The big new feature this year is a new submission system, which takes the form of a cat and mouse style mini-game. The two fighters go into the background and an octagon appears on-screen with a blue and red circle (representing your corner colour) that has a line either side. What follows is mad dash around the octagon jumping from this way to that as the guy in the lock tries to keep his circle away from the player in ascendancy. At first this seemed a little awkward and appeared to disrupt the game a bit for me, but as I have grown more used to it I have to say it does work quite well.

In fact, that last line really sums up the whole demo. The more I have played it the more I’ve enjoyed what UFCU3 has to offer. Without being a fan of the sport I cannot truly testify to its replication of it, but what I can say is that what we have here is a very solid fighter that can stand up to a Tekken or a Virtua Fighter because of the way the fights play out.

There is huge scope to cater for the pick up and play mentality while offering more experienced and dedicated players alike the opportunity to master a style that suits them and the variation from outside to inside fighting will take some mastering.