Review by Scared89
Finally, a UFC game done right
Very few games own the distinct honor of making me jump around my basement after completing a respectable task. Diddy Kong Racing did it once for me after I beat the Octopus Boss after failing so many times. UFC 2009 Undisputed managed to make me do the same thing.
A couple of fights before I won the Light Heavyweight Championship I was set to face Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Bruce Buffer began the character introductions and Rampage looked as intimidating as he is in real life. Compared to my kickboxer, Rampage looked like a monster. After a grueling two round battle I managed to knock Rampage out with a counter roundhouse to the head. I was so excited that I took down such a difficult foe I dropped my controller and literally celebrated as if I really did beat Rampage Jackson. Few games can immerse you so much into the game and garner these type of results, but UFC 2009 did that for me. Without a doubt, this is the best UFC game and probably the best fighting game I have ever played.
Gameplay (9/10) - Never have a I played a fighting game as complex as this one. Trust me folks, this is not a button mashing fest. With three different techniques for striking and three different techniques for grappling a battle can easily become a violent chess match. The gameplay is divided up into a variety of different fighting circumstances. First there is stand up fighting. This could easily be related to typical fighting games like Soul Caliber or Mortal Kombat.
Both characters are standing and can throw different combos at their opponents and block their opponents. At the same time, from this stance you can take down your foe to the ground or grab them into a clinch. The stand up game is extremely tense because you have to treat every big hit that comes your way as one that may end the fight. Just like in the real UFC, there are Flash KOs. Flash KOs come from taking a big hit in an extremely vulnerable situation and end the fight immediately with your mouth guard flying out of your mouth. There are a multitude of counters and reversals and different combos that keep the stand up game incredibly immersive and incredibly fun.
The second part of the fighting is in the clinch or grapple. From here you can do up close dirty boxing that a fighter like Rampage loves to rely on. In grapples you can throw knees or punches or you can even initiate take downs. Wrestlers can do huge spinebuster like slams that inflict massive damage on their opponents whereas Muy Thai fighters may grap a fighter in a clinch and then drag them down so their foes are in an open guard down. The clinch system offers just another way to operate stand up and when used effectively, can be VERY deadly.
Finally, the ground game is the last piece of the fighting puzzle. This is exactly where the other UFC games really failed in. In games like UFC Tapout submissions were instant and transitions seemed broken. In this game, the right thumbstick controls everything. Using the thumbstick you can make major or minor transitions in any direction you want. This means going from an open guard to a full mount can just be a couple of transitions away so you can really pound on your opponent.
Probably the most relieving feature is the submission system. In any offensive position you can attempt a submission by clicking the right thumbstick. From here your fighter will try to make his foe tap out. Depending on how much damage your opponent has taken and how gassed he is he could tap or break out. Submissions are a little more difficult than they should be to lock in, but it's by no means broken. I have won and lost plenty of fights because either me or my opponent got careless and gassed then caught in a submission we couldn't break out of and lost the fight. The ground game is what really separates this game from any other fighting game.
The gameplay is incredibly responsive and fluid. The collision detection is the best I have seen in any fighting game. I have thrown head kicks that went above a ducking foe, only to have the kick come back around and knock out the opponent. That's something that really makes you go "wow, that type of stuff could really happen" because in most games if the kick misses initially, it isn't going to hit on the way back. The gameplay is very strategic and overall incredibly fun. I would recommend making submissions a little easier to achieve and toning down the flash KOs a bit. Very rarely do I see fights go into the third round because I KO my opponent or I get KOd way too quickly. Finally, I wish that the actual fence of the octagon would be utilized. Pinning against the fence should have been implemented somehow.
Graphics (10/10) - Like I mentioned earlier the collision detection is phenomenal. Arms don't clip through bodies and punches don't hit despite whiffing. One of the most important graphical aspects of a fighting game is the collision detection and in Undisputed it is one of its finest points. The character models look scary real and life like. Fighters sweat as the battle goes on and even take visible damage. Blood may drip onto their chests or pour from their nose. Depending where you hit them different types of cuts and bruises can emerge on their face. Blood splatters onto the mat and doesn't disappear which is a huge plus. During the replays of rounds or the overall fight, cuts that weren't there before that hit aren't there. The game looks brilliant at all times. Even non important characters look great. The referees look awesome and the card girls look great and "bouncy" if you get what I mean. The arenas all look like their real life counterparts and the octagon looks good.
Presentation (9/10) - The presentation in this game is true to life to the UFC broadcast. Bruce Buffer announces every epic battle and gives the fighter introduction. Each fight features commentary from Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg as well. More on that in the Sound section. Graphics that pop up screen to show the "Tale of the Tape" or which fighter is who by their trunks are accurate. The "Classic Fights" portion of the game features promo videos explaining how the fight happened and all of the build up. The music is pretty much spot on for a UFC game as well. Only main complaints are that the menus are fairly repetitive and take awhile to navigate. Also the saving in this game tends to take awhile. Overall the presentation is phenomenal.
Career (8/10) - I'll start this off saying that the Career mode is addicting and highly entertaining. You create your own fighter, pick a weight class, and fight your way through the UFC for Seven grueling years. From your try out match all the way to your "retirement bout." In between fights you can train to raise your speed, strength, or cardio in either a light, moderate, or intense way. Also you can choose to spar with a partner to raise your skill points in certain areas like clinch striking or takedown defense. Training Camps also are available to raise the levels of your striking and grappling techniques. The three striking techniques are boxing, kickboxing, and Muy Thai. The three grappling techniques are Wrestling, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Finally, you can do interviews or take photo shoots in order to increase your CRED.
CRED determines who sponsors you and ultimate decides if you make it into the Hall of Fame at the end of Career Mode or not. You can earn CRED by placing sponsor logos on your trunks and by winning your fights. Also earning the "KO of the Night" or "Fight of the Night" awards help raise CRED significantly.
Ultimately you move up the UFC ladder choosing out of three opponents with the opportunity to take the palce of injured fighters at the expense of less time to train. The career mode can be repetitive, but it is highly addicting. Constantly improving your fighter and learning from mistakes and preparing to correct those mistakes is exhilarating. However, updating your trunks with new, better, sponsor logos can be time consuming as the loading times are fairly bad in the create a fighter menus. Also, getting into the Hall of Fame is no easy task and should not be as unrealistic as it is in this game. My Kickboxing Wrestler went 32-2 and was a two time Light Heavyweight Champion who retired with the belt and didn't make it into the Hall of Fame. Also winning the special awards for matches can really only be obtained through either knocking out an opponent halfway through the first or submitting them. Career mode in UFC 09 is very good for a first try, but definitely will need improvement in future games.
Sound (9/10) - The sounds of punches hitting flesh and bodies hitting the floor sound great. UFC Supplied THQ with thousands of minutes of ring mic sounds from fights to use in the game. Also, Bruce Buffer loans his voice to the game for pre fight introductions. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg provide probably the best commentary effort for a video game ever. They give incredibly detailed information and follow the action surprisingly accurately. Transitions are commentated and big hits as well. The soundtrack in the game is also fairly well done.
However, the soundtrack is fairly repetitive. Only a few songs are available for the menus which makes the menus repetitive and boring at times. Commentary, while the best I have ever heard, has hiccups. Sometimes I will knock an opponent out while Joe Rogan is going on some crazy lecture about my opponent and his training that won't end until they show the third replay of the knockout blow. Besides all of that, the sound is damn near perfect.
Replay Value - (10/10) - The replay value for this game is great. With a career mode that will likely have you pouring hours and multiple run throughs and an exhibition to tinker around with. Not to mention the classic fights and sub sequential videos those fights unlock. On top of all of that is an Online mode to face human players as well. You have a running record that shows up in pre match introductions and in the quick play. The game has plenty to keep you coming back, especially if you are a major UFC fan to begin with.
Without a doubt this is the best UFC game available. I would even go as far as to say that this is likely the best fighting game available. In any given fight you can have multiple strategies and trouble shooting. Hell, in career mode I had to change strategies on the fly and adapt.
As I mentioned earlier, I beat Rampage before I won the title. Then in a rematch while I was champion Rampage annihilated me with his clinch. I had never seen it before and had no clue how to defend it. He owned me in the first round and I was hell bent on learning how to defend it and train to defend it. In the rematch I reclaimed my title by breaking out of the clinch and ultimately superman punching his face in, a punch I learned by achieving level 3 kickboxing status.
The game punishes you for being careless and rewards you for being smart. This is without a doubt the smartest fighting game available. It's exciting and has great legs. It likely won't be a game you play for a few days and then set on the shelf to collect dust. I would recommend all fighting game fans or UFC fans go out and buy this game immediately. You will not regret it.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: UFC Undisputed 2009 (US, 05/19/09)
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