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UFC 2009 Undisputed
Graphics: 8.4
Gameplay: 8.5
Sound: 6
Control: 8
Replay Value: 8.5
Rating: 8.3

Mixed Martial Arts has quickly risen to become a spectator sport that the mainstream enjoys and is familiar with the same way they are familiar with wrestling and boxing. It also doesn't hurt that a lot of former A-list wrestlers and boxers have jumped shipped into the MMA world helping brands such as the UFC reach an even larger audience and grow their fanbase considerably. UFC is the first MMA game THQ is the publisher of, as they published PRIDE: FC back in 2002, to much acclaim. If you're not familiar with PRIDE, it was a Japanese MMA brand which the UFC eventually acquired. And of course, many of you should know that Undisputed isn't the first UFC game, as the license was once held by Crave. But unlike the Crave games, THQ's Undisputed offers fans of the MMA brand a solid experience that they can keep coming back to.

The most critical aspect to a game like UFC is the game engine, and with Yuke's at the helm of development, we had a good feeling we'd get something solid. You've got a game engine that manages to maintain the brutality and excitement of the matches, without having to make sacrifices in realism. So as soon as begin your first match you notice that there is a certain weight to the fighters, some quicker than others, in addition to a specific feel, as the fighters also possess unique fighting attributes and personalities. Granted you'll notice the uniqueness by playing a number of matches, but nonetheless, you still immediately notice that the game is doing something right with each fighter during that first match of yours.

With over 80 fighters to choose from, Undisputed features the largest collection of fighters a UFC game has ever seen. In fact, it's one of the largest assortment of fighters in any fighting game, in general. Unfortunately, Clay Guida was cut from the game during development, as his long hair created visual glitches during fights. So that's one of few fighters who you will not be seeing in the roster, but I bet you could still find a way to create him in the game.

Speaking of creation, as expected, you will be required to put together your own fighter in order to play through the game's career mode. The creator gives a rather solid range in the amount of customization that can be done to your fighter, mixing both presets and sliders during the creation process. Once you're done, you will take your fighter to the career mode and start making a name for yourself, climbing the ranks, until eventually retiring your fighter. Once retired, you have the option of either creating an all new fighter, or bring your past one out of retirement - a pretty nice little feature, I must admit.

Obviously the enjoyability of the game is completely driven by the game mechanics and the fighting engine itself, which does a good job of capturing both the intensity and realism of the MMA world. Now, I'm no UFC expert, so I won't pretend to be one, so there is a chance that hardcore fans will find faults in the game, as far as authenticity and other miscellaneous aspects go. What I can say is that from strictly a gamer's point of view, UFC: Undisputed is a game well done.

Also, do note that the game's got a proper online mode that allows you to also use your created fighter, in addition to a Classic Fights mode, which borrows a page from THQ's WWE Legends game, where you can relive 12 of the biggest and best fights in UFC history. Completing the Classic Fights as they happened unlocks game extras, so try to follow the match requirements.

On the more technical side of things, the graphics here are quite nice. Fighters are made up of nearly 30,000 polygons each, with superb texture details that highlight each and every fighter's skin complexions and specifics. Granted, some fighters look better than others, but for the most part, Undisputed boasts some really good fighter detail. The next big thing in a fighting game such as this would be the collision detection and animation, making sure that a punch or a kick counts only when there is proper contact between both fighters. In other words, in the past, if you threw a punch and it was inches away from your opponent, often times the game would register that as a hit.

In Undisputed, the game engine is very tight and prevents these errors from occurring. You'll also notice in replays just how well the parrying in the game works, as arms will get tangled up when both fighters try to use a similar attack. Other collision issues such as feet falling through the mat, or hands piercing through bodies are also practically non-existent. Because there are no frenetic action scenes or a camera constantly on the move, the framerate doesn't suffer and keeps the game running at a silky 60 frames, on top of being able to render up to 1080i.

The sound is a mixed bag though, as the game boasts a pretty terrible soundtrack (really, we're still using Salia's "Click, Click, Boom" till this day?) on top of poorly synced audio that is noticeably delayed when viewing the game's live-action videos in the Classic Fights mode. There is no custom soundtrack feature, but since music only plays during the menus, turning off the tunes from the options does the job. The commentary, on the other hand, is very well done, certainly better than THQ's WWE games, as Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg lend their voices to the game to create a rather solid presentation.

Overall, UFC Undisputed is a very good MMA first effort by THQ and Yukes. The game's core is deep enough to keep gamers entertained for some time, and the game mechanics are realistic, while simultaneously feeling exciting. On top of that, the Classic Fights and the online keep the entertainment going, which helps make Undisputed worth the coin. While the visuals are strong, the audio is problematic boasting a number of issues, despite the strong commentary. All in all, if you're a fan of the UFC or MMA in general, then Undisputed is for you.

5/19/2009   Arnold Katayev