UFC 2009 Undisputed (360)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Sunday, June 14, 2009

Graphics: 9.50
Sound: 9.50
Gameplay: 9.00
Replays: 9.00
Gamelength: 8.00

The long-awaited “UFC 2009 Undisputed” is finally here and it’s going to suck the life right out of any serious UFC fan.

UFC has been growing in popularity for quite some time now, but the video games have always been quite terrible. This time, however, it’s a different story. With plenty of other wrestling and championship fighting games under their belt, THQ decided to take another shot at the UFC brand. They’ve obviously struck gold, considering the fact that this game is sold out all over the place, right? Critics and general UFC fans worldwide have been constantly praising this game, but is it really just a bunch of over the top hype? Is this game really that good? That’s what we’re here to find out. Step into the octagon and see how long you can last in “UFC 2009 Undisputed” for the Xbox 360.

“UFC 2009 Undisputed” easily has the best visual quality out of any wrestling or UFC game to date. Each and every fighter is very lifelike, even right down to the sweat that drips down their bodies over the course of a long fight. Not only that, but the game runs at a blazing 60 FPS and remains rock solid without any hitches whatsoever. Throw in a realistic crowd and the trademark octagon fighting ring and you have the perfect visual style for this type of game.

Not only are the visuals as good as it gets, but the sound quality is fantastic. The announcer is very lifelike and doesn’t repeat himself very often, which helps keep the game feeling fresh. Crowds are lively and entertaining as well, but perhaps the coolest part is how realistic and powerful the combat sounds. Each and every punch, kick, snap, tackle; all of it sounds like it’s happening in real-life, right in front of you. It’s like the developers had a brawl with high quality microphones on their bodies and used all of the sounds in the game. If that’s still not enough for ya’, check out the badass soundtrack, which includes bands like Papa Roach and Hollywood Undead.

Still not sold? You will be soon. There isn’t a large selection of modes and the online play is more or less limited to basic Exhibition matches, but the primary reason that this game is so intense and mind-blowing is the way the developers designed the control scheme. When you first turn the game on and finish creating your save file, you’re offered a chance to go through the tutorial. If you skip the tutorial, this game is likely to be one of the most frustrating experiences you’ll ever put yourself through. However, going through with the tutorial is an ordeal in itself because it’s so complex and detailed that I could see some people taking up to an hour to really get through the whole thing. The entire tutorial follows a basic pattern. First, there’s an in-game demo of AI-controlled characters with a text box explanation of what’s going on and why things are happening. In the text box, the controls and any important information are clearly detailed. After the demo, there’s a test, which simply forces the player to practice what he or she has learned. Most things are simple, but many of the commands are very reflexive and require a lot of practice during in-game combat. After the extensive tutorial, it’s time to select a mode and make your way to the octagon. The most basic selection is Exhibition mode, which simply allows the player to pick one of their favorite UFC fighters and duke it out in the ring with any other fighter. For the serious fans, there’s the Classic Fights mode, which allows you to relive any one of 12 historical events. Not only do you relive those events, but you have to win on the same round and in the exact same way as the fighter did in real-life. Clearing Classic Fights unlocks highlight videos of the real-life events, which is a nice treat for the hardcore fans. The third and final major component of the game is the Career mode. At the beginning of your career, you’re forced to create your own fighter. The character creation process is simple, but it lacks the depth of THQ’s previous efforts. I suppose it’s for the sake of realism, but a major part of the fun in the THQ wrestling/fighting games has always been creating both awesome and ridiculous characters. During creation, you can alter a character’s primary physical attributes, as well as their skill strength and general fighting style. There are only 3 fighting styles and 3 grappling styles and the game doesn’t allow you to alter how they play. Each style is very specific and every character who uses that style plays the same way. The deciding factor that makes characters different is the previously mentioned character attributes and skills. A higher stat means that character is much stronger in the specified area, such as speed, kick offense, grappling offense; all of those sorts of things. There are a total of 17 skills and 3 physical attributes to play around with, but that’s where the fun of character creation ends. There’s no option to change the size or placement of any cosmetic details and the only clothing you’re allowed to change is the shorts, knee guards, ankle guards and mouth piece. To give you an idea of how limited the cosmetic customization is, there are only a total of 4 different character faces. Either way, character creation is this game’s only flaw. Aside from that, if you can’t handle the daunting difficulty of the control scheme, you may want to consider buying another game. Moving on, the career mode contains a lot of filler, but works as a sort of character training mode. After you go through the spars, camps, fights, e-mails, scheduling and the other general stuff the career mode offers, you’re left with a retired fighter. The retired fighter is considered maxed out and can be used for any Exhibition matches, both locally and over Xbox Live. A full career doesn’t last very long and can be completed in a few short hours, but this game shines online. Few games are as fun as this one when facing off against either random people or your own friends. The fast-paced combat and deep control scheme make this a game built for the fans. If this sounds like your kind of game, you can pick it up for $59.99 MSRP at your local retailer.

Overall, aside from the lacking character customization, THQ did a fantastic job. If they can enhance that one flaw, add more Classic Fights and expand the Career mode just a bit, this series could really go places.

-Outstanding visual quality.
-High quality soundtrack, featuring well-known bands.
-Well-designed control scheme.
-Fast-paced fights.
-Classic Fights are really awesome.
-Amazing online play.

-Character customization is very lacking.
-Control scheme may scare some players away.

Bottom line:
If you’re a UFC fan and you own a game console that can play a version of this game, you should check it out as soon as possible. This is a game built for the fans, so everyone else should probably skip this one and move on to something else.

Overall Rating: 9.00

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