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iPhone/iPad review of the day: UFC Undisputed 2010

On iPhone/iPad
UFC Undisputed 2010
Price: $1.99 / £1.19
Size: 30.5 MB
Get it now on the iTunes store:US/UK

Mixed martial arts is complicated. There are so many different moves and styles that translating the sport into a videogame seems like an impossible task. Publisher THQ managed to do it rather successfully on consoles with the Undisputed series, and now it’s trying to crack the mobile market as well. UFC Undisputed 2010 on iPhone isn’t at the same level as its big console brothers, but it sure packs quite the kick to the face.

The biggest conceit the game makes is that its limited to a 2D plane. Although everything looks 3D, you can move forward and backward but not side to side. This makes it feel almost like a slower, more grapple-heavy version of Street Fighter IV. There are huge onscreen buttons that control your punches and kicks, and you can grapple, block, and try to take down your opponent as well. There’s a stamina bar that slowly decreases as you attack, weakening your blows, which encourages you to not spam the punch button. All in all, the game is good fun while you’re on your feet, with plenty of punches and kicks to the face.

Not so much when the fight gets down to the mat, though. When you’re down on the ground grappling, the fight devolves into a series of uninspired quick time events. You’ll need to follow a moving circle and trace a series of increasingly complicated shapes, a peculiar mechanic that suits the touch screen but to us at least, feels unexciting and out of place in an MMA game.

Above: UFC runs on either the iPhone (top screen) or the iPad (this screen), on which it looks even sharper.

Pointless QTEs aside, UFC Undisputed 2010 is still easily the best MMA game in the App Store. The fighters look great (though we wish there were at least few more to choose from), the career mode is enjoyable, and the stand-up controls work well and don’t try to get too complex. It’s actually surprising how well the game works with a touch screen. Just try not to get knocked to the mat. Because then things aren’t so fun. Hmmm. In a way, that’s just art imitating life, isn’t it?

Jan 19, 2010