Tapout time is nearly upon us.
After taking some time off before stepping back into the Octagon, the folks at Yuke’s and THQ and have come up with both a more authentic experience for wily old veterans as well as something for those who are new to the franchise and may be looking to jump on board for the first time. I was able to go hands on with an early version of UFC Undisputed 3, the next chapter in the THQ’s MMA franchise, and as someone who played the last version and has a basic knowledge of the sport, the game is already looking light years ahead of its predecessor.
The biggest complaint by most, including yours truly, about the last UFC game was the control scheme. Even the most diehard of UFC fans were having difficulty pulling off some of the more complex takedowns and choke holds that are required to really do well in the game. Now, there is a new Amateur control setup that simplifies things so that even the greenest of the green can jump right in and pick up and play. Whereas the last version of the game required complicated quarter-turns with the right stick, now a simple flick up and down will perform the intended grapple transition that could set up a devastating arm-bar or rear naked choke. Mind you, more advanced players who use traditional controls will have incentive to use that control scheme if they can pull it off as ground moves and submissions from the Experienced control scheme will be more powerful and effective, prompting players to try to get better at the game.
Continuing with the controls, the punching and kicking has been improved as well so that lighter, quicker punches and kicks can interrupt the timing and pacing of someone throwing heavier blows. The best way to win in UFC though is forcing your opponent to tap out. And the submission control system has seen a huge overhaul as well. In the last game, inexperienced players were lost in terms of who was winning and who was losing whenever a hold was applied. Now, a new octagon shaped HUD will pop up that will clearly signify who is in control and who needs to escape. The player with a solid bar will be trying to escape, and a player with an outlined bar will be performing the maneuver. If the player with the solid bar can keep his bar from being overlapped by the outlined bar of the attacking player, the player will escape. If the outlined bar completely encompasses the solid bar though, the player will tap out. These new controls and the submission mini-game especially really helps the pick up and playability of a game like this.
Another way to win in UFC is knocking an opponent out. Usually the referee will jump in and stop the match at this point. But there are new “competition” options included in the game to allow for a bit more of a fighting game feel and less of a sports simulation to help determine a clear winner and put more of an emphasis on skill to prevent a lucky shot from deciding the outcome of a match. And if you want a completely new set of rules, the now defunct MMA organization Pryde has been included featuring their rules and all their fighters during their heyday. This also sets up interesting matches that could put Pryde versions of certain fighters against their current UFC selves.
Besides these options to help reach out to a wider audience, UFC is also all about authenticity to keep their hardcore fans happy and it already shows in the early version I looked at. Aside from the return of commentators, sponsors, and various other video and audio nuances, there are now new fighter introductions, post-match celebrations, all seven weight classes have been included, and all 150+ fighters in the game have been fully modeled. Throw in a new camera angle that is lower and more inside the Octagon to help give players a sense of being right in the action and this is shaking up to probably be the most in-depth game in the series yet.
PARTING SHOT: Even though this is only the third game in the series, what I saw from UFC Undisputed 3 felt like a complete overhaul to make the game really accessible to a lot of people. The new controls felt natural and moved away from the button mashing necessary in the past and the new submission system felt so satisfying that I’m still rubbing it in my poor victim’s face. All in all, if this early version is a sign of things to come, UFC Undisputed 3 will have their MMA game competition tapping out in no time.