Good evening all and welcome back to the eighth edition of The Backlog. Tonight we will look into THQ and Yuke’s third offering of mixed martial arts excellence, UFC Undisputed 3. There were great strides made from the first offering to the second in this series, and this year’s edition was also noticeably improved. One would usually hope and expect that a sports franchise would improve from year to year, but as many gamers have noticed, several franchises seem have either hit plateaus on what they can build on or they are just simply resting on their prior accomplishments.
In addition to career mode, Undisputed 3 also features Pride and a Title Mode/Title Defense Mode. I did not get much into Pride, aside from a few exhibition fights and the tie-in to career mode, but more on that later. I spent a little bit of time with the Title Mode, and the best way I have to describe it is it feels like a stripped down, streamlined career mode. No bells and whistles, just fighting. If your not interested in developing a fighter and sponsors, then this is the mode for you. Basically you take a fighter, and you have to fight your way to the top of the contenders list and beat the champ.
If you lose three times, it’s over. Once you win the championship, you unlock that fighter for use in Title Defense Mode. In this mode, you just keep defending the strap until you lose. But there is no saving and coming back later. Once you exit out, that run is over and you have to start a whole new defense mode the next time. I think there is an accomplishment you can earn if you win 30 fights in a row here. This mode also features a laundry list of goals to unlock, like winning by TKO or causing critical leg damage.
As fun as it was to take Jon Jones through Title Mode, I’ve spent most of my time in Career Mode. After running rough shot through the WFA, I made my UFC debut and promptly suffered my first defeat. Luckily, though, I seem to have gotten the losing out of my system since I am on a nice double digit win streak. After picking up some wins and climbing the rankings a bit, I started getting invites to go fight in Pride, and finally got an invitation to take part in a Grand Prix tournament, which I won of course. At present I am 30-5 and am currently the #2 contender for the Light Heavyweight Championship, with a fight against the top contender, Antonio Nogueira.
In order to partake in copious amounts of kicking ass in the octagon, you must train your fighter between fights. In last years game, you had several weeks between fights where you could perform one training session each week to increase stats or learn new moves. This year, you can still select between training or learning/leveling up moves, but the process is streamlined. Instead of several weeks, you only get two training sessions at most between fights. This caused me to focus more on improving my ratings and sticking with a basic striking move set early on. This worked out for me since I set my fighter to have a boxing background, and as such, I only have two submission victories in my 35 fights.
Another important aspect of the career mode is accumulating Cred. You earn cred through fighting obviously, which is doubled if you win, through awards(Match of the Night, KO of the Night, etc…), and through sponsors. You start out with just two sponsors(THQ and Yuke’s), but as you gain popularity, you unlock the ability to use more and new sponsors, and can spend cred to unlock gear and logos. Training sessions also cost cred, but those are deducted from your fight purse. Cred can also be used to obtain upgrades to your rating limits.
While a streamlined career mode is nice, perhaps the biggest improvement next to the addition of Pride is in the presentation. Don’t get me wrong, the presentation wasn’t bad last year, but this year it is pretty superb. With arena entrances, especially in the Pride arena, fantastic cage entrances, and some of the best commentary in the sports genre, UFC Undisputed 3 may have the best presentation this side of MLB The Show.
This franchise has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. The maturation and improvement of the product over the course of three editions is somewhat mind-boggling, but in a good way. The only downside, is with this kind rapid success and continuous improvements, I fear that we are soon headed for a plateau as far as what can they really add, and it will start to turn into something akin to buying this year’s game to get an updated roster of fighters.
If I had to point out anything I’d like to see improved on, I’d like to see fighter entrances expanded a little bit. The Pride entrances are outstanding, but on the UFC side, they seem a little short and if you’re fighting in WFA or on a UFN show, there are no entrances. I’d also like if we could upload walk in music from the PS3 or Xbox hard drive, such as on NCAA Football or on MLB The Show. I would say I would like to see more doctor stoppages since I haven’t seen one yet, but it’s not like I have worked on causing one.
Nevertheless, in case you couldn’t tell, this game is terrific. This is one of the best and most fun sports and fighting games I have ever played. In terms of pure fun, fighting games, I’d put it up there with some of the fantastic wrestling games I used to play on the N64 like WWF/E No Mercy, Wrestlemania 2000, and one of those WCW games that’s name is eluding me right now. In most areas, it is a perfect game. In some other areas, and those are very very few, it is oh so close to being perfect. The good thing about that, is there is still some room to improve.
There is just so very little holding this game back from being perfect. But it is definitely worth your purchase, so go get yourself a copy and kick some ass.
UFC Undisputed 3 gets a four out of five: GREAT.