Impressions of UFC 2010: Undisputed

We're only a matter of weeks away from the release of THQ's UFC Undisputed: 2010, the highly-anticipated sequel to last year's debut, and both gamers and MMA fans are starting to get pretty excited. I had a chance to check out the new game last week, and I came away impressed with a few of the improvements to the way the game looked, and how it played.

Graphics
Tons of good, new, subtle things to discuss here. The lighting on the liquid in the octagon - sweat and blood - is much more realistic. There is a shininess that wasn't evident in last year's game. As sweat accumulates during the fight, you'll notice it more and more. There's a retooled graphic for the start of a fight, with the fighter's faces superimposed on a camera panning the crowd. Also, fighters wear post-fight gear like hats and tee-shirts when the winner is announced. And while none of these things are ground-breaking graphical tweaks, it's definitely a noticeable upgrade to last year's model, which, I may remind you, was shockingly good. Also, all the fighter's available (a handful of heavyweight and welterweights) looked extremely close to their real-life counterparts. Apparently, all of this year's fighters - all 100+ of them - were scanned into the game. Last year's was about a 50/50 split, with some created through the game's "create-a-fighter" mode.

Gameplay
The minor transition, major transition mechanism has been extended to control not only the ground grappling, but also the clinch controls, as well. This definitely simplifies a bit of the complicated scheme, which may present a steep learning curve at first but is amazingly deep. In last year's game, two fights rarely felt the same. Also, fighter's guarding their heads no longer keep make such an exaggerated motion with their hands. Subtler movements make the fight look more realistic in this way. There is much more of an emphasis on body positioning, so if you get a guy's back, you seem to be a bit more likely to end the fight right there, either through strikes or submissions. I was able to tap out my player-controlled opponent a few times, very, very early in the fight, by finding myself in the right spot (and, admittedly, understand how to block grapple reversals.)

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