With the lack of any real professional wrestling leagues and the waning of the professional boxing leagues, mixed martial arts is where the current generation turns for its blood sport. Names like Chuck "The Ice-Man" Liddell and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson are more recognizable than those of most boxers or wrestlers. Just like all other sports, the UFC makes people wonder how they might do inside the octagon, and with UFC 2009 Undisputed from THQ we finally get our chance.
The lengthy tutorial that starts the game is a little dull but absolutely necessary because of the various styles of fighting in the UFC. It's not simply a boxing title where gamers can mash two buttons over and over, looking for the knockout. You'll have to utilize every button on the controller if you want to be a threat. Even if you plan on staying on your feet and throwing strikes, you will very quickly see that you need to practice all the various fight styles to defend yourself against each one. You may be a great boxer or Muay Thai fighter, but if a ground specialist takes you to the canvas you had better know how to defend against his submission attempts.
There are three different modes of play. In Exhibition, two fighters can jump in the cage and start throwing meat hooks. You can fight as one of the more than 80 different fighters in the UFC or you can create your own fighter and pit him against the greats.
In Classic Fight, you reenact some of the greatest bouts in UFC history. You take control of your favorite fighter and try to exact revenge on his nemesis. The character models look remarkably like their real-life counterparts. Each UFC star comes complete with his own signature moves, strengths, and weaknesses. This mode was what drew me to the game and it's what keeps me coming back for more. No disappointment here.
Although it may not be the most fun, the real meat of the game is in the Career mode. Most sports simulation games have added this mode to allow gamers to advance through the ranks and become the next biggest thing in the sports world. Some do it well, some not so well; none are great.
You can select any of the UFC fighters or your own fighter and take him from newbie to novice as you battle your way to the top. Beware if you choose a fighter that you created. The mode will automatically reset your character to rookie status. Your fighter will be slower, less powerful, and have a lot less stamina. I recommend building a separate character for the mode before you begin.
Once you choose your fighter, you will schedule training, sparring matches, and event matches. How many points the sparring match earns depends on how well you accomplish the goals in the match. You can spend any points you accumulate increasing your character's skill levels in one of eight different areas.
When training you must choose between strength, speed, or cardio. This is where I thought Undisputed dropped the ball just a little. Instead of creating some fun mini-games to allow you to train, all you do is schedule training for that week and poof, it's done. The only real action is in the fights themselves.
Overall Undisputed is a major hit. If UFC fans like me can't seem to get enough action between pay-per-view events, it helps to be able to strap your buddy to a controller and pummel him into the canvas.
Contact Tom Fisher at: firstname.lastname@example.org