UFC Undisputed 3 PlayStation 3 review

UFC Undisputed 3 is a game that aims to please gamers and the MMA hardcore. Does it succeed...?

If you’re new to the world of MMA, then prepare to be overwhelmed. UFC Undisputed 3 is a game that takes its subject matter very seriously, and it crams so much onto the disc, that you’ll be left bleary-eyed after sifting through it all. This is a virtual love letter to the constantly growing sport, and developer Yuke’s, has ensured that this instalment in the series is the best yet.

UFC Undisputed 3 features around 150 fighters in it’s mammoth roster, and introduces a few new features to the already impressive line up from the previous games, chief amongst these is the inclusions of PRIDE, a much more accessible and enjoyable career system that more about action than stats, and a few tweaks to the gameplay, such as a new submission system.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a game that will certainly be daunting at first to new players, or newcomers to the MMA world, but that’s not to say it’s inaccessible. The game has an extensive training option, with more than enough help and advice to teach even the greenest, future UFC champ the ropes, there’s little left undocumented in the game’s lengthy tutorials, and there’s plenty of scope to practise the various arts of MMA before you get into the action proper.

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Long and winding road

When you do get into the game, it’s the career mode where you’ll end up. The game has plenty of other modes, such as exhibition, tournaments and the like, all of which offer instant gratification for those who simply want to get into the octagon and tear it up, but the real legs of the title can be found in the career.

Starting the career for the first time you’ll have to create a new fighter and learn the ropes of the game’s many and in-depth features. Within this mode there’s a ton of training options to be found, many tacking form of small mini-games to improve your fighter’s various skills and abilities, and you’ll also have the chance to join a training camp in order to learn new skills or improve exiting ones, and you can make use of the nifty game plan feature. This lets you pray on you opponent’s weaknesses by coming up with a plan that counters their strengths. To do this you select an option, such as an aggressive, strike-heavy plan, and then fight a training round with set goals. Fulfil these goals and you’ll gain stat bonuses in the fight.

This between-match management has been simplified from previous outings, and is much better for it. There’s still plenty to do, but it’s easier and quicker to get to the fights.

What’s more, the career isn’t a linear thing either, and is a realistic depiction of a fighter’s life in the sport. You begin in the now obsolete WFA (World fighting Alliance) and have to prove yourself here before moving up to the bigger leagues. However, even if, and when, you move up, do badly and you can be sent right back down in order to lick your wounds and build up your skills.

As you win fights, along with the inevitable titles and promotions, you’ll also earn Cred. This is the currency used in the game, and can be used to buy extra kit, sponsor logos and is also used in training.

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In the red corner

Of course, a brilliant pre-fight system means nothing if the in-ring action isn’t up to snuff, and luckily this isn’t an issue for UFC Undisputed 3. All aspects of the combat system work together here, to create a truly deep and complex fighting engine that’s one of the best around. For newcomers, the sheer complexity of the controls and the various elements, such as standing strikes, ground work, counters, blocks and submissions will initially be very daunting, but thanks to the aforementioned training system, it doesn’t take long to get to grips with the core controls.

For the most part, the system here is very similar to previous outings in the series, which is no bad thing as there was little wrong with it before. The addition of a new submission mini-game, which sees you having to overlap your opponent’s cursor whilst moving around an octagon-shaped overlay, is better than most alternatives, and makes for a unique way to force your opponent to tap out. Other elements such as Leg TKOs and cage wall walking further extend the system.

The rest of the combat mechanics are rock solid, and the smoothness of transitions from a standing to a ground game is great, and the representation of the varied fighting styles seen in today’s MMA is handled very well.

There are options for a more arcade-oriented fight, or you can choose to use the more simulation-like setup that requires stamina management and a more managed pace. This makes for far more strategic bouts, as you can’t simply go in swinging.

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The presentation of the fights is also enhanced, and it now much more like the real thing, with TV style presentation and some great build-up commentary that will actually analyse your past performances in your career and call you out on it. It’s impressive stuff.

The addition of PRIDE, with its alternative rules and more brutal nature, is another welcome addition, and further fleshes out the package, making it a perfectly well-rounded deal.

Stop and start

Sadly, there is a major problem that sets the game back, and this is the loading times and loading screen regularity. You’d better like staring at MMA logos, as you’ll be doing it a whole lot here. There are loading pauses after everything, be it a training mini game, versus screen card or a fight, with the latter being one of the longer loading times. I found it to be a real problem, and one that was so prevalent that it damaged my enjoyment of the game a great deal.

Loading times aside, though, what we have here is an excellent representation of the sport that’s packed with tons of nice touches, be it a collection of video interviews from real MMA fighters that comment on things like a first loss or win, or the attention to detail on each and every fighter. With a superb fighting engine and a career mode that’s one of the best around, this is the only MMA game fans need, and, if you’re new to MMA, and want to know what all the fuss is about, this is your entry ticket.

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4 stars

You can rent or buy UFC Undisputed 3 at Blockbuster.co.uk.

Rating:

4 out of 5