King of the Octagon
Up to this point we had seen the new Amateur control scheme and the Pride rules set for UFC Undisputed 3. But the elephant in the room had been “What about the career mode?” since we all knew that would comprise the bulk of the game. Well, the elephant is loose and I had a chance to go hands on and try to tackle the behemoth that this mode has become with all the changes that have been introduced to it.
The first thing you’ll notice when entering career mode are new live action movies that highlight everything you do. From first deciding to become an MMA fighter, to your first victory, to your first defeat, to your first championship, all the major moments of your career come with a short video revolving around a similar moment of either a UFC Hall of Famer or current superstar. Some of the footage has been repurposed from previously released UFC DVDs, but some stuff is completely original for the game.
We then entered into one of THQ’s staple character customization modes. Whether tweaking every fine detail of our fighter ourselves, or using a new “quick face” turn wheel with hundreds of pre-set faces laid out on it, the customization process has never been smoother. After choosing our weight class, we were then asked to select our MMA background. Whether we wanted to be a karate master, a Muay Thai monster, or an all-around MMA all-star, the choice was ours and different moves and move sets we would start with and could later learn would be affected by our choices here.
After deciding what path I would walk down, with UFC Play-by-Play man Mike Goldberg talking us through every moment, we learned about all the in-depth options we now had as we crafted our Ultimate Fighter. The first new feature was “Creds”. By participating in fights, and more so by winning them, we would earn Creds, which basically serve as currency in the game to unlock new gear and sponsor logos and better sparring partners and training equipment in order to increase the ceiling of where we could boost our stats to.
Then came the actual training. With 14 new mini-games, seven in the gym and seven in the octagon with a sparring partner, we could begin working on our stats. From tire lifting, working the heavy bag, and sprawl drills to working on our takedowns and clinches with our partners, the choice was ours in what areas to work on and when.
We were then shown six real world camps, including the legendary Greg Jackson’s American Top Team, where we could learn new maneuvers. From simple things like spinning back fists to more complex submissions, depending on where you study depends on whom you work with and what moves you can learn. After trying all the gyms, you’ll be locked into one and by training loyally at that gym you’ll unlock the right to learn even more involved moves.
Once learning some new moves, we were shown the game plan mode where instead of training, you could come up with a strategy against a particular opponent and if you succeed in the subsequent training, you’ll receive a huge boost to one statistic for one match. For example, if you choose the “Aggressive” game plan, you could end up with a +12 to your punches and kicks.
After all this, we finally got into the octagon and began our careers and played the game as normal. What is great though is that after you go through all the tutorial stuff of each activity you can do, you’re only allowed to do one or two of those listed activities above before your next fight. This still gives you the sense of control you’d want in personalizing your fighter, but it also keeps the action coming at a good pace so you don’t drown in mini-games trying to improve your submission defense stat or trying to learn a spinning back kick.
As you begin advancing up the ranks, that’s when things get the most fun as you start in the WFA and then you start getting a lot more choices about your fighter than the last game’s career mode. More opportunities to change weight classes along with the chance to go into the UFC or even Pride, which has been resurrected at least in this game, and earn their respective championship belts offers you the career management aspect many people have been looking for.
All in all, the Career Mode in UFC Undisputed 3 looks to have finally found that balance of fighting, character management, and customization that should allow players to feel like they are truly in the octagon themselves. This is shaping up to be a simulation worthy of making your wallet tap out and cough up some cash when it is released in February.
So what do you folks think? Are you pumped for the newest chapter in the UFC franchise? Are you excited about the new layout to career mode? Let us know with your comments below!