Format reviewed: Xbox 360
Other formats available: PS3.
Rating: PEGI 16
Ultimate Fighting Championship Undisputed 3. It’s a bit superlative laden, we have to say. Just how ‘ultimate’ is it and what if someone turns up and starts disputing everything? There’s not much you can do about that. Still, we’re not going to argue with this panoply of pugilistic punchsmiths, unless perhaps it’s with the written word from behind the safety of this keyboard.
UFC, for the uninitiated, is a mixed martial art sport, where boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing, wrestling and traditional, all-round hardnuttery can be combined and utilised to get your equally violent opponent knocked out, tapping out or ruled out by the ref in order to win the bout over three rounds in a cage. It’s like boxing but with the rule book torn up, set on fire and then thrown out of the window.
So it’s violent, let’s get that out in the open from the get-go, and the game’s 16 certificate backs this up. Painful looking cuts plus huge lumps and bumps are common sights in this game, and that’s only after round one, so it’s suitably winceworthy to see that shiner pounded on in rounds two and three.
UFC3 holds no surprises in the menu screens, as it follows the well worn path of many other simulation based fighters. Exhibition Match is present and correct, along with other stalwarts such as create a fighter, career mode, ranked and unranked online matches and recreating historical big name matches.
Create a fighter is mercifully concise, as we’re not convinced that anybody really gets their trunks in a twist over earlobe curvature or eyebrow credibility any more. With your man done and his name and hometown sorted, it’s time to delve into the more interesting aspect, which is his persuasion when it comes to thumping other people in the noggin.
It’s not all about melee attacks of course, as MMA rules happily cater for grapple moves and submission holds, which are devastatingly effective when applied effectively. So feel free to choose wrestling as your main influence if you want your starting stats to reflect this persuasion.
Before you send your man (we called ours Tyson LeBlanc) into the cage for his first dust up, however, you might want to take a look at UFC3’s extremely comprehensive tutorial system. Beginner lessons alone consist of 15 videos to watch, each followed by a sometimes lengthy, practical re-enactment. They’re nothing if not exhaustive, but it’s a big ask to sit through all 62 (yes, sixty two) lessons in one go, as there is so much to take in in the advanced lessons.
UFC3, you see, is taking things very seriously. Developer Yuke’s has clearly taken on board just how much realism UFC fans want from these games and, in large part, this thorough attention to detail is present in all aspects of the game.
While this is admirable to see from a developer, it has to a degree made the UFC franchise somewhat elitist, catering only to those hardcore fans. Perhaps this is good business sense, but we can’t help thinking that a simplified mode with fewer tutorials and options could draw in new punters who may be daunted by the steep learning curve facing them in the early stages.
As comprehensive as UFC3 is, this is perhaps at the expense of some negatives that we are duty bound to point out, such as painfully drawn out loading times. We’re not sure exactly how these interludes can take so long, but clearly this time is needed. It’s certainly not to render the septum alignment or philtrum concavity from create a fighter, that’s for sure.
Also needing a mention is the way these guys move about the ring, which is to say not very fast. In a sport where positioning and general footwork is just as essential as the strikes and blows themselves, it’s disappointing to see our contenders shuffling about like folks desperately holding in a number two.
Lastly is something that has to be a bug, which will hopefully be fixed in a launch patch, and that’s the grapple option with the right stick. Tilt this toward your opponent and you’ll lunge in and grip him around his waist, with the intention of overbalancing him onto his back so you can get on top and pummel away at his face or move into some kind of grappling position. The thing is, if your opponent is too strong to knock down at that point in time, he’ll passively resist.
The real killer here is that you can’t let go. No matter what you try - and believe us we have seen and played the tutorial - you simply cannot let go in-game and have to sit and watch this weirdly homoerotic, uneventful clinching for up to 30 seconds, hammering away at any button you care to mention, until the ref decides you’ve had enough intimacy and breaks you up.
These three issues unfortunately stop UFC3 short of greatness. Fans will be able to show patience and see past these drawbacks (assuming the grapple glitch will be patched) but for those speculating on whether to buy or not, you need to take the above into account before you start picking fights with any of these bad boys.
Review originally from BCS