I’m going to level with you. I don’t like boxing (or mixed martial arts) and struggle to see how it’s defined as a ‘sport’. That said, watching people try to kill each other, minus the death, is always entertaining (plus, you know, foxy boxing). As such, I don’t really have an eye for the finesse that goes into each blow and initially UFC Undisputed 2010 looked like another generic brawler, where button mashing was the key. Fortunately, with time, even I was able to recognise the skill required to play a game like UFC 2010, let along duke it out in the real world.
UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, is of course about so much more than boxing. It’s the world’s premier fighting competition that encompasses the likes of wrestling, jiu jitsu and Muay Thai. Basically all the (legal) sports that pit two guys against each other trying to inflict maximum pain and gain points (apparently). While not a personal favourite, there’s no denying that the UFC has legions of fans jumping at the chance to live out their passion through the medium of gaming.
If, like me, you’re not a hardcore mixed martial arts fan, UFC 2010 will come across as a very simple game. Two face buttons control your left and right hands and the other two take care of your kicks and knees. The left triggers instigate the same attacks either higher or lower, while the right triggers defend your face or midriff. On the surface it’s not as complex as some other fighters, but you’d be foolish to skip straight past the tutorial as you’re yet to learn about the right analogue stick.
The right control stick is the business end of UFC 2010. It controls grapples, takedowns, reversals, transitions, counter attacks and badass moves to sky rocket your way to victory. The controls become a lot more complex when the right stick is introduced. It’s hard to remember all of the combos but, considering so much is controlled by the same button, swinging it around wildly normally achieves something; although, beware of extreme thumb cramp. While using a control stick to input commands increases the game’s accessibility ten fold, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it turns into a bit of a spam-fest from time to time. Controlling with the face buttons becomes an art of using high and low attacks coming from different angles in-between defence. If the player’s either winning or losing by a fair margin, spamming the right control stick is often the first, and last, tactic employed. It’s a case of each to their own, as used in the correct context the right analogue stick complements the face buttons perfectly, but it’s not always the case.
UFC 2010’s bread and butter is its improved career mode. You start at rock bottom as a nobody fighting amateurs and work your way to the big time in the UFC. Along the way the player has to manage their fighter’s skills and attributes. Crafting a fighter from the bottom up is certainly a lot more rewarding that starting at the UFC, and for a fan there’s no better feeling than crawling of the streets as a 21-year-old to hold the world title just a few seasons later.
The career mode is divided into weekly sections. After each fight you can choose to train, visit martial arts clubs or rest. Managing your fighter’s stamina both in and out of matches is crucial to success, as fatigue is a recipe for failure. Visiting other clubs in your critical rest period can pay dividends as each acts as a training camp where you can learn new moves. Sparing against a trainer and completing the required tasks, filling a completion bar, will earn you a new technique in place of an old one. It’s a great system that allows you to fully customise your fighter to your own specific style by taking traits from a range of different martial arts. Muay Thai combined with boxing, ju-jitsu and your wildest dreams creates a mean, lean, fighting machine even George Foreman would run away from screaming like a school girl.
Aside from the career, Undisputed 2010 includes Exhibition, Tournament and Title mode. They’re perfect for a quick UFC fix, as it the Ultimate Fights Mode which allows you to reenact classic UFC moments. However, they’re fairly similar in terms of what you’ll be doing – fighting your way to the top. Only the most dedicated of fans will feel the need to complete each several times as by the end it all starts feeling the same.
Online is fairly basic but it’s one of the more intense gaming experiences you’re ever likely to have. At any moment a vital blow could end everything and the risk carries so much more weight when you’re competing against real opponents. It’s not perfect as the smallest moment of lag can be the difference between victory and defeat, which is a substantial issues for Aussie gamers. Beware that at the last minute THQ added a one time code to access online play. The code is included if you purchased the game new; however, you’ll need to purchase one for $6 if you buy pre-owned or give it rent.
UFC 2010 features an impressive roster of over 100 fighters spanning five weight divisions. Each fighter has their own style, strengths and weaknesses in conflicting areas. Playing on the harder difficulties, knowing your opponent’s weaknesses and exploiting them is crucial to landing a knock-out punch. Knowing your own fighter’s weaknesses and where to focus the defence is equally important; discounting your opponent’s knowledge is a rookie mistake.
The presentation is as close to the real deal as we’ve seen in a sports video game. Bear in mind I’ve only watched a little UFC coverage on Youtube, but it’s almost identical in Undisputed 2010. In career mode you can pick your fighter’s interview responses, all the big names are present, the commentary is great and everything’s presented like a live broadcast. All 100 fighters are distinguished by Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan who adapt to in-game results almost flawlessly. In the long run you’re likely to experience comments being repeated and like all sports games the presentation has an expiration date.