Last year, the team of THQ and Yuke's brought the UFC video game brand off of life support with UFC Undisputed 2009. It showcased what the UFC is all about as it featured some great gameplay, solid graphics and offered a strong multiplayer offering. However, with the game being such a huge success, and with THQ deciding to make it a yearly brand, the pressure was certainly ramped up for Yuke's to produce a game that surpassed what the original achieved. Not an easy task, but one they were certainly up for.
The game features a roster that's much more vast, with there now over 100 real fighters to choose from. However, it's arguably much more fun to create a completely new fighter and attempt to take on the UFC in Career Mode. The create-a-fighter options have been improved, with there apparently being 50 percent more parts. A figure that probably can also be translated over to the depth of the Career Mode itself, as it now lasts 12 years as opposed to the original 7.
The added length of the Career Mode does allow for some new mechanics to be displayed, such as age. As fighters get older, their stats will decrease more quickly and they will get considerably more fatigued from training. It actually becomes quite a challenge to simply stay in shape, all while keeping stats to an acceptable level. The highest stable cap is 70, but stats are out of 100 so maintenance is required to stop them from deteriorating too much.
Unfortunately, the rest of the additions to the Career Mode aren't anywhere near as effective. It's now possible to do automatic sparring, but this offers a greatly reduced amount of points, There is almost no real incentive to use this option, especially when the manual training is so easy to exploit. The criteria for gaining points has been simplified, so it's possible to do well simply by repeately doing cheap leg shots - not exactly fun, but very effective. It's also now possible to chose gameplans before a fight. There are a set of fixed strategies and they allow players to get a stat boost towards their chosen style. For example, if they are looking for a short fight then their offensive moves will have their stats increased, while their defensive stats will decrease. The presents are pretty limited though, so often the best gameplan is to simply go in with everything set at the basic level.
Both the sponsorship and media obligations reappear too, and while sponsorship has been tuned to make it easier, the media obligations remain very annoying and redundant. Once a player puts sponsors on their gear, they can pretty much forget about that aspect of the game for the rest of their career as they will automatically upgrade themselves. The media obligations are spammed over and over again at players, sometimes every single week. They offer very little aside from increasing popularity and if they weren't there, the game would be much better off. It's a key part of the UFC in reality, but it still doesn't translate very well into the game. Other aspects, like post-match interviews and rivalries are also included, but they are implemented in a poor fashion. The fighter only has a handful of canned answers, so they cycle around very quickly - not the best way of trying to make the game seem interactive.
Even though these aspects are important, the UFC's main focus is of course the fighting. Last year's model excelled in this department although there were still some issues. Players have four main attacks, they can block high and low, perform high and low attacks and cause considerable damage. In the origin it felt like a very technical fighting game and it still does. If anything, it's now even more technical. New elements have been added, such as quick evasion when standing, and posturing when ground fighting. They make the combat much more involved and it makes everything much more difficult, or easy, depending on which end the player is on. Evading can be performed by tapping on the left stick in a certain direction, and it makes counter attacks much more seemless. Posturing, while on the ground, allows players to move their weight around, so they can either look to deal more damage, or hold a position more effectively.
Steps have been taken to make the gameplay much more simple, like the clinch using the same control scheme as the ground for transitions, but it can still feel exceedingly overwhelming. Players need to think about high and low blocks, while also wondering whether they want to attack high or low. At the same time, they need to be wondering about whether to defend a takedown attempt, while moving and possibly evading opposition strikes. It's not uncommon to be hovering over numerous buttons in preparation. And for UFC enthusiasts, this is something of a dream as a UFC fighter has to think about all these things and much more. The ground fighting does still feel rather overpowered in the grand scheme of things, but this too is reflective of its dominance in the UFC.
The game is still fairly solid graphically and fighters now show much more damage after taking punishment. The blood splatters on the canvas still look terrible though and this is a shame. It ruins the illusion to see the fighters realistically taking a beating and then seeing the floor have pixelled red spots. Oddly enough, one of the best parts of the presentation is the music. Original music only plays during the menu sequences, but it's extremely inspiring and really sets the tone for what the game's all about. It certainly gets the blood pumping and is miles better than the music from UFC 2009. Commentary is again provided by the UFC team, but it doesn't necessarily work that well this time around. Yuke's have tried to implement a system whereby the commentators learn from what the player has done in the past, but it isn't always right. For example, in a fighter's first title shot, it'll start the fight by stating that the last title fight ended in defeat, which is just baffling.
Aside from Career Mode, which is a considerable time sink, there is also the standard exhibition mode. To try and give the game more depth, Yuke's have added some extra modes though, such as Title Mode, Title Defence and Event Mode. These all offer something new and allow players to earn points which can be spent in a shop to unlock new create-a-fighter goodies. There are also Ultimate Fights, which allow players to relive historical UFC moments and of course, the online mode. Online is much the same, but it's now possible to make Online Camps with friends - it just further enhances the best part of UFC 2010.
UFC 2010 Undisputed is still a very solid game, make no mistake about it. However, not all of the additions work that well. The Career Mode still needs a lot of work to stop monotony and other aspects, like the new commentary system, just don't seem properly tested. This aside, the core gameplay is still very engrossing and visceral, and the online aspect of the game retains its addictive nature. The extra combat additions do add a new layer of depth, but while its still a great game, it doesn't really feel like enough has been done to warrant a release only a year after the original.