Also On: PS3
UFC Undisputed 3 comes out nearly two years after the second entry in THQ and developer Yuke's take on the Ultimate Fighting Championship. And taking that year off to go back and refine the game from its last entry certainly seems like it paid off. I’ve found myself far more addicted to the game than I ever was with 2010, and there have been a number of changes that feel like a step in the right direction.
The game still shares most of the core mechanics found in the series to date, so fans of the previous games will still feel right at home with Undisputed 3. There are a number of fighters on the roster taken from the Bantamweight to the Heavyweight divisions, with probably the largest roster in either a fighting or wrestling title that I’ve ever seen. It’s also been supplemented with the inclusion of Pride, a Japanese MMA division that comes complete with a few more roster entries, a new ring, new announcers, and new entrances for the fighters.
UFC Undisputed 3 combines striking, grappling, and submission techniques into its fighting system. Various fighters excel at different mechanics, with a few hybrids amongst the vast roster. Flash K.O.’s are still a thing, along with getting “rocked” which causes you to enter a stunned state that leaves you extremely vulnerable for a short amount of time.
The submission game has changed a bit, so instead of just furiously moving your analog stick in a circle, you’ve got a little on-screen guidance now. My only real complaint about the new submission system is that it’s pretty damn hard to get one to stick when working against another player.
When initiating a submission you’ll get an onscreen marker in the shape of an octagon. You and your opponent can guide your marker around the octagon, and you’ll attempt to keep your marker overlapping your opponents for a certain amount of time.
It’s pretty easy to get out of though, generally all it takes is a few quick back and forth motions, and with the marker of the person initiating the submission always shrinking, it’s almost impossible to keep it locked in on an actual person.
The idea is that you want to create a bit of damage to the body of someone before going for that submission, but so far pretty much everyone I’ve fought against has only been interested in head striking with ground and pound, so I’ve yet to see a submission work in a live match.
The striking game still feels pretty great, punches look and sound fantastic when they connect, and there’s little more satisfying than pounding your opponent into a TKO after rocking them and sending them to the mat. There’s a ton of moves available, and each fighter also has a number of signature moves that can act as variants over their typical strong punches and kicks.
The grappling system feels a lot better this time out, and you now have the option of switching between Pro or Amateur control set-ups to help with transitioning. Getting propped up against the cage only to have the fighters reset by the referee is no longer an issue, which is also a pretty big plus and one of the more annoying aspects from 2010.
Career Mode still provides a pretty big chunk of the experience, and now allows for not only user created fighters but also real fighters from the roster as well. Stat decay has been removed, another huge plus, so you’ll spend less time babysitting your stat pool. You’ll still be going through training sessions between matches, but the training mini-games are all pretty well realized, and you can also opt to join camps and just spar with opponents to learn new moves and improve existing ones.
Menu navigation isn’t nearly as tedious as before, and the loading between menus is pretty slight overall. I played the majority of the game on an Xbox 360 with the game installed to the hard drive, and outside of the initial connecting boot-up of the game I never felt like I was losing too much time to the menu set-ups.
I will say that while the added fighter entrances are cool, they do prolong the time it takes to get into an actual fight. And once you’ve spent some time with the game and the novelty of the entrances wears off, you’ll find yourself really wanting to get into the actual fight a little quicker. You can tap A to speed things up, but the game still needs to do a little loading between both entrances, the tale of the tape, and so on.
The fighter entrances get to be a little more annoying when playing online, especially if your opponent isn’t paying attention. Because of that I’ve found a lot of people opting to play in the UFC Gym for their arena choice, because it takes the entire fighter entrance thing out. There is an option to turn them off, but that only works if you’re the person that created the match.
Speaking of the online side, my experience so far has been pretty good. Over the past few days I’ve had little trouble connecting to players and finding matches, which is a good sign prior to release. Of those matches they’ve been pretty solid, with a few instances of poor connections causing noticeable lag and a few drop outs. I am disappointed in the lack of a penalty for players that drop out when they’re losing, and I really think a penalty system needs to be implemented.
Overall I feel like the game has seen a number of necessary and needed changes that might not be super evident at a glance, but certainly make this feel like a better experience than Undisputed 2010. Things like being able to TKO a player from leg kicks, or work your back up against the cage to get back to a standing position might not sound revolutionary, but they add more layers to what was already a pretty great fighting system. You can pretty much go as deep as you want into it, or can still do reasonably well if all you want to do is stand up and punch dudes.
And really, that’s what makes Undisputed 3 work. It’s super accessible for anyone moderately familiar with fighters, yet has an insane amount of depth for those willing to spend time with the game. That generally seems to be the hallmark of any great fighter, and I think UFC Undisputed fits that bill. There are still a few kinks to be ironed out, but certainly less than were present in previous years.