On Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, THQ is set to release UFC Undisputed 3 for Xbox 360 and PS3. Fans expecting a huge leap forward from previous editions of the franchise game can rest easy: UFC Undisputed 3 delivers a deep, rich experience.
Right off the bat, gamers will notice a new camera angle, which brings them closer to the action inside the Octagon. Fighter entrances are a big part of the spectacle, but THQ shows restraint in limiting them to PPV fights, where you'd ordinarily see them. If you're on a Fight Night card or still working your way up in the WFA portion of career mode, you won't see your fighter walk down the aisle.
And when all the graphics are unleashed for event mode, the game pretty much perfectly replicates a UFC broadcast. There's a full intro with commentators Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, as well as all the gladiator imagery and logos you'd expect from a broadcast. Overall, the graphics are extremely detailed, capturing many nuances of UFC fighting.
The biggest upgrade is revealed in the gameplay department. Adjustments to the striking game make for a much smoother, more seamless experience than in years past. Punches, kicks, knees and elbows flow better, and it's easier to string together combos that feel authentic and move at a realistic pace. You can absolutely fight as a pure boxer and still be successful. The interactions don't feel at all unnatural.
The new submission system relies less on button mashing and more on skill (whether that's a good thing is personal preference). You'll definitely notice the refs standing the fighters up slightly earlier than they should, but if that's the biggest issue in the game, we're in good shape.
Actual in-game fighting is as tight as it's ever been in the UFC series. And props to THQ for recording better commentary. Some of Rogan's comments are still generic, but on the whole they are varied and flexible enough to suspend disbelief.
Career Mode has been simplified. Gone are the days of meticulously inputting individual stats to get your fighter up to par. The focus is now on training, whether in camps—several are licensed, including Greg Jackson's gym and the American Kickboxing Academy—where you can learn new moves, or via workout-based mini games that affect your fighter's strength, speed, cardio and footwork. And the games are surprisingly addictive. You wouldn't think a tire flipping mini game would be worth a minute or two, but it is. Plus, there's logic behind most of these activities. Tire flipping will improve your cardio and strength, but not your skills, whereas hitting the heavy bag will increase your striking ability and improve other core aspects of your athleticism. You have to balance what your fighter needs with the specific training games.
There's also the standard Title Mode and Title Defense Mode, which allow you to save your progress, as well as the highly-anticipated Pride Mode, which is selectable for every exhibition fight. You'll even get invites to participate in Pride tournaments as you fight your way up your career ladder.
With an incredibly deep roster, polished gameplay and a full set of features, UFC Undisputed 3 definitely delivers on the hype. Pick up a copy tomorrow, Feb. 14, for $60.
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