UFC Undisputed 2010 – first look

Las Vegas! It’s a beautiful place full of money, food, and unimaginative douchebags out to get married or to act out scenes from Swingers or The Hangover, depending on the age of the choads in question. But having to be near those people is a small price to pay to see top-class entertainment like the incredibly French Cirque du Soleil, most of your parents’ favorite comedians, and sporting events like UFC 109, which gets to why we were there (other than to stuff our fat mouths at buffets): to see UFC Undisputed 2010 for the first time.

Above: We were this close to UFC 109 live

Last year, creating a fighting game based on the UFC seemed a little risky. Sure, the UFC was, and still is, at the height of its popularity, but before the franchise basked in mainstream acceptance, there were several UFC games of varying quality, with the last ones being on the low end of the spectrum. With that kind of spotty legacy, UFC 2009 had a lot to prove when it premiered. But based on its huge sales and very positive critical reception, we’d say it more than proved itself worthy. Now the pressure is on for developers Yuke’s to prove that it can build on its balanced and accurate interpretation of UFC fights in the first of what we’ll bet will be many annual sequels.

The core gameplay of the title remains basically the same. Combat is either standing, with kicks and punches, or rolling on the ground in the many variations of the guard, half-guard and mount positions. Only now, the already-deep combat sports some new tricks and features that fans were clamoring for. Firstly, the ability to fight southpaw has been added, the absence of which was probably the biggest complaint from the fans. Now, fighters who naturally fight left-handed, or even those that switch stances during fights, will be able to throw leather from both positions. Another welcome addition to the stand-up game is the “sway system,” which gives each fighter more upper-body movement for dodging punches the way MMA fighters like Anderson Silva are so talented at.

When the fight goes to the ground, another new tweak, the “posture system,” shows up. This gives the players the chance to make small but important shifts in their current position, enabling them to really maximize their ground-and-pound game. Add to that even more strikes, submissions, and ways to incorporate the fence into combat, and it seems like the devs really want to change things up in the ground game.

The graphics and overall presentation have gotten a tweak, too. Of the more than 100 real-life fighters in the game, many more have been built with specific character models this year (unlike in last year’s game, in which some were clearly built with the game’s create-a-fighter feature to save time). The already-great HUD-free fights have been deepened as well, with more commentary, crowd reactions and real-life refs. And with all that going to work, the game still has the graphical horsepower to give the ring card girls some impressive breast physics.

Lastly, the online features are getting a real boost. Now, when you fight over the internet, you can create online leagues and even training camps. As the more hardcore MMA fans know, most fighters train in groups with other high-level fighters who are probably in different weight classes, and so a win for the fighter makes the whole group look good. Being able to set up groups like the famous Gracie Family, Hammer House or Chute Boxing with your friends, and then (ideally) have the whole team dominate online fights, will hopefully add a whole new level of involvement in the online battles.

Out of the scant bit we saw of UFC Undisputed 2010, we’re hopeful that it will only make last year’s already-great game even better. Perhaps with serious competition on the horizon from EA Sports MMA, the developers decided not to screw around this year. The game’s release date is May 25, so we’ll probably be seeing more real soon, and hopefully getting some hands-on time with it.

Feb 12, 2010

Henry Gilbert

Henry Gilbert is a former GamesRadar+ Editor, having spent seven years at the site helping to navigate our readers through the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Henry is now following another passion of his besides video games, working as the producer and podcast cohost of the popular Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts.