As a mixed martial arts fan and someone who thoroughly enjoys video games I have long been anticipating the release of the upcoming UFC 2009: Undisputed that will be available on both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles. Now, with a set release date on May 19, all that everyone wants to know is, how is it?
I recently received an early copy of the demo featuring Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Chuck Liddell, the same demo everyone will be able to get their hands on this Thurs April 23 from either Xbox Live or The Playstation Network. Now I’m going to be honest, I have set my expectations pretty high (after all the delays and production time I felt this game had better knock my socks off), well after spending some quality time together I can safely say I have had any doubts smashed like a flying knee to the face.
Included in the demo is a couple modes of play, one which I highly recommend doing first is the tutorial. If you take the 15-20 minutes to complete this you will be a lot more satisfied than trying to just learn it as you go because that can only get you so far. The other mode is Exhibition which can be played with up to two players in the demo, so naturally I grabbed some friend’s and brought them over to show them who is king of the virtual octagon in my house.
Where I feel the game truly shines is in it’s multiplayer with a room full of friends, the same way I have been doing so with Fight Night series for several years. So the first thing I was naturally worried about, is this going to be a timed demo, do I only get to fight through round one? Well the answer is no on both accounts. The UFC demo does allow the full 3 round at 5 minutes each like any standard non title fight.
So off we were on our first bout, I had chosen Shogun wanting to replicate my performance from Saturday’s UFC. While I didn’t finish it in the first round, but by the third I had done enough damage that when a solid right elbow landed flush it sent Liddell reeling back and trying to recover, unable to do so I did the only humane thing and finished it with a brutal combo of Hammerfists from the mount and sealing a third round knockout victory.
After our first bout we had about 25 more throughout the night going back and forth as we learned each fighters strength and weaknesses. What I found to be really cool and why I am really looking forward to the complete game, every character handles very unique and well fights very similar to there real life counterpart.
Liddell, I will just be honest, is a lot more of a user friendly character, what I mean is he punches slightly quicker and has the ability to finish it anytime, although on the ground he is no where as developed as Shogun’s character in the BJJ aspect of his game. So if you are looking to go and swing for the fences your first fight choose Chuck, if you want a much more well rounded character with brutal kicks, knees, and elbows Shogun does the part very well in addition to his much more evolved ground tactics.
Another thing I had been concerned about after watching so much media coverage regarding the title is something I find important….. Is there any blood, cut’s, bruises, etc.. With a huge grin I can say yes!
You see in a sport that prides itself in being “As Real As it Gets” I found this to be an important part. It seems the developers must have felt the same way because they have made an awesome facial damage system that is very fun to watch as it is brutal. In one of my already countless fights I have seen eye’s swollen near shut, bloodied noses, mouths, and of course cut’s around the face, the worst of which was a gash opened over Liddell’s right eye it was very reminiscent if the Marvin Eastman cut when he fought Vitor Belfort. The way they bleed is quite realistic, for instance if you take me down but have a gash of some sort open you will find your blood dripping onto the other fighters chest and the mat as well and leaving a tainted stain as a reminder of the war you are in.
The best part about this game isn’t how brutal it is, but how well everything works and meshes together in the controls. I want to go into the stand up a little, how it’s handled (I will put the ps3 version of controls here).
Your strikes are all handled from the face buttons, so your left/ right punches are X, Y (or Square, and Triangle respectively), and left/right kick is A, B (X, O). Now these just throw your standard hit’s in order to modify and throw either high or low you use the left shoulder buttons LB for High, LT for Low (L1 for high, L2 for low). Your character naturally reacts to where they are at, for instance if you are keeping a good distance and go for a high (or hard) punch Liddell will throw a spinning back fist, or Shogun will throw a flying knee so each character has their own style of attacks. You also can block by using the right shoulder buttons, for high attacks you hit the RB, and for low RT (R1 for high block, R2 for low blocks)
The game has a nice clinch system, if you want to secure a clinch with a simple tap of the Right stick in the direction of your opponent you will tie them up, once there you use simple quarter circle turns to secure your under hooks and once they are secured you use LB or L1 and up, down, left, or right to attempt a take down or pull guard.
Once on the ground all your progressive movements (such as transitioning from full guard to half guard) are handled by the right joystick (and a lot of those quarter circle movements to work my way to full mount). Once on your back though all these attempted transitions are thwarted the same way they are attempted through the right stick. In addition to just tying them up you do have the actual Thai Clinch that can be initiated through LB and moving the right stick in the direction of your opponent (L1 for PS3), you can punch and knee your opponent while tied up and you can whip them around with a simple up or down movement on the right stick.
To initiate a submission if you are on top is by a simple click in the right stick, by doing so it initiates a submission. Once the submission is being attempted you can either spin the right joystick clock wise or rapidly hit any of the face buttons (this is how you progress you armbar, or sink your rear-naked choke in). To attempt a take down by holding the LT or L2 and pressing the right stick in the direction of your opponent you will attempt a takedown (once attempted quick presses of the face buttons strengthen the attack) , your attempt can be stalled or stopped by pressing that same right joystick opposite of your opponent (your character will then sprawl out). There is more depth to the take downs such as catching a kick etc, but I don’t want to give away all the controls (you all need to do the tutorial for the best understanding).
So basically I would like to leave on this note, I had high expectations and the game more than exceeded what I had set forth (and this is only a demo with two characters), the demo will be available to everyone on Thursday, April 23, and the full game is going to be available on May 19. If pre-ordered from participating GameStop’s you will receive 2 exclusive bonus character’s as DLC (downloadable content), the characters you will receive are Ryan Bader and Efrain Escudero. The final U.S. release will feature Forest Griffin on the cover, while in Canada they get there more than deserving athlete of the year Georges St. Pierre.
Listed below is the full character roster (you will notice some characters can fight in multiple weight divisions if they have done so in real life).
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Brandon Vera (LH)
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Wilson Gouveia (MW)
Ryan Bader (DLC)
Anderson Silva (LH)
Rich Franklin (LH)
Dan Henderson (LH)
Michael Bisping (LH)
Martin Kampmann (WW)
Amir Sadollah (WW)
Matt Sera (LW)
Mike Swick (MW)
BJ Penn (WW)
Sean Sherk (WW)
Efrain Escudero (DLC)
Big John McCarthy
Mark Delagrotte (Career)
Greg Jackson (Career)
Eddie Bravo (Career)