Hands On: While at the UFC 137 weekend in Las Vegas, 411's Jeffrey Harris got a very special look at next year's upcoming and highly anticipated release, UFC Undisputed 3! Could this be the greatest MMA game ever made? Check out the full article to see his hands-on preview!
While at E3 this year, we got very excited when we first got a glimpse of the upcoming THQ release, UFC Undisputed 3, the follow-up to last year's UFC Undisputed 2010. THQ has done very well since they gained the UFC license. I think UFC Undisputed 2010 was a good game and fixed many lingering issues with UFC Undisputed 2009 such as being able to switch stances and using the cage in the fights, however it only came off as a bit of a minor progression. THQ definitely seems to be aware of this and the extra development time the team took to make UFC Undisputed 3 definitely looks like it was worth it. I think we all got extremely excited when the new game would feature this:
That's right, the new UFC game utilizes it's very own Pride mode. But it wasn't until I actually got to play the game with my own hands that I realized how special and cool this actually was. But we shall get more into that later. UFC Undisputed 3 definitely looks poised to be the greatest MMA game ever made, and it looks like the game really UFC Undisputed 3 should have been from the beginning. Not that UFC Undisputed 2009 was a bad game at all, but there were many things I wished I could do with the gameplay that you simply couldn't. Now it seems with UFC Undisputed 3 the gloves are off, and the potential of an MMA simulation type of game are finally being realized.
I think what UFC Undisputed got right from the very beginning was the striking. The striking in UFC Undisputed 3 still is incredibly grand and intuitive. The combat flows really well especially with feints, flash knockouts and dropping your opponents. The way the game captures the complexities of MMA striking is really well done like ducking under punches before promptly dropping your opponent with a hook. Striking in the game still works really good. But even more so now is the grappling. In the previous games, I found the grappling to be extremely difficult, especially in order to pull off a submission which I often found almost impossible to do and pull off. The game developers have now put in onscreen identifiers and a mini-game of sorts when you're fighter initiates a submission. An Octagon shaped ring appears on screen with a meter for the blue corner and red corner fighters. Within the confines of the Octagon shape, you use your analog stick to have your meter lock on to and essentially capture your opponent's meter to finish the submission. In addition, some fighters will have a stronger submission bar if they are more submission type fighters such as Nate Diaz or Minotauro Nogueira.
Already announced at E3, the game now features two different control schemes. There is a more advanced control layout and a new amateur type control layout. The amateur type is better for me since it makes it easier to initiate grapples and submissions. The drawback of the amateur control type is that it makes you unable to throw feints and also makes your fighter more vulnerable to reversals. Besides the control types, the game offers a special new simulation mode. If chosen, this optional mode allows for slightly more realistic fighting where fighters can gas out quicker if they throw too much, too quickly. This also makes the gameplay experience a little more challenging. There are also some interesting new aspects of gameplay. For example if a fighter continues to throw a leg kick constantly and it gets checked, the fighter's leg can be broken which would instantly end the fight. I wasn't able to see or play this this idea yet, but it's definitely awesome and adds to the more enhanced realism this time around.
The roster is absolutely huge now that it boasts the new UFC featherweight (145 lbs.) and bantamweight (135 lbs.) divisions. The roster even includes such cult favorites as Sean "Big Sexy" McCorkle. Nate Diaz and Dan Henderson have also both thankfully made it into the game despite their recent stints from Strikeforce. My understanding is that any fighters that didn't make the original roster cut as Joe Lauzon are definite to make it into the game via downloadable content.
Now let's get to the really exciting part which is the Pride gameplay mode. The Pride mode I believe is what will completely put the game over the top as the best MMA game ever and really set the new standard for UFC and MMA-themed games. The Pride mode is more expansive and elaborate than I ever could have originally imagined. Now the only drawback of Pride mode is that there is only one default arena and referee option unlike with the UFC mode which lets you choose from multiple different arenas and even available referees. But that is only a minor quibble. Pride mode is absolutely outstanding and is basically a whole extra entire game within a game. Besides the excellent and humorous commentary by Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros, the Pride mode will also features over 30 Pride-exclusive fighters such as Bob Sapp, Kazuhiro Nakamura, and Akihiro Gono. Former and current UFC fighters that also competed in Pride also have their own special Pride models, so you can play as Pride-era versions of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson with his trademark American flag shorts, Wanderlei Silva with less tattoos and before his facial plastic surgery, and also Pride-era versions of Cro Cop and Minotauro Nogueira.
But as if that wasn't enough, all the traditional Pride rules are in place. It features everything except the card system, but who really cares when you get your opponent to the ground and you can throw knee strikes to the head? That's right, in Pride mode, knees to the head, the soccer kicks, and the head stomps are all legal as the game truly captures the Pride style and fighting. The first rounds are ten minutes and second and third are five. The Pride mode is also complete with the trademark, elaborate Pride entrances and even introductions by Pride's Lenne Hardt. THQ really went above and beyond with the Pride mode here which will make hardcore fans nuts. It makes sense as THQ made the last Pride FC game in 2003 so they've basically come full circle here. Pride mode also allows you to compete in a Pride title fight and also in a Pride Grand Prix tournament.
I think the most exciting news of all though is that in single-player campaign, you will finally be able to play as current roster fighters. Previously in UFC Undisputed and EA's MMA, you could only play as a fighter you created in career mode. When I went to an EA conference and played EA MMA, I tried to explain how one thing I didn't like about UFC Undisputed was that you had to create your own fighter for career mode. I don't want to do that. In career mode, I want to play as my favorite fighter. The developers just looked at me like I had two heads and basically said, "No, you can't do that." THQ thankfully has listened to the fans and rectified this. Now you will have the option of being able to play as your favorite fighter in career mode. You will be able to customize their move set and attributes though. But this is definitely a blessing for players such as me who aren't big into "creating" characters and just want to play through career mode as my favorite fighters. When I got to see and play the Pride mode in action, I nearly went nuts when I was able to pull off a soccer punt on the head of my downed opponent.
UFC Undisputed 3 from THQ is now set for a February 14, 2012 release next year for the PS3 and Xbox 360. A Wii-U release currently isn't in the cards. But this definitely looks like the MMA/UFC/Pride gaming experience we've all really been waiting for. And hopefully a Kazushi Sakuraba DLC is right around the corner.