While Anderson Silva was getting ready to stink it up in the Octagon at UFC 97, I got to check out the PlayStation 3 version of UFC 2009: Undisputed. Within seconds of trying out this extraordinary looking game, I realized this wasn’t a rehashed, pretty cover that was thrown on top of THQ's SmackDown Vs. RAW. It’s a whole new entity and a whole new experience, just like the sport itself. The realism has translated over very well, from the ever so dangerous cage down to the great commentary done by Mike Goldberg and JoeRogan . I am also a fan of the fact that there is no HUD during the gameplay. As you start taking on heavy hits, the action fades to black and white, letting you know that you are almost at the end of the road.
I was more concerned, however, about the gameplay and how it felt. Presentation is important, but the last time we saw a UFC game, it was truly atrocious. I was first given a demonstration of Undisputed followed by a Georges St-Pierre virtual ass-kicking of his UFC president Dana White, who decided to play as B.J. Penn. Then it was my turn. I chose Chuck Liddell to be my guy and I entered the dangerous world of MMA.
The control layout is fairly simple. The square and triangle buttons are the left and right punches while the “X” and square buttons deliver the left and right kicks. The right shoulder buttons are for blocking high and low while the left shoulder buttons modifies your strikes. The right analog is used for grapples,takedowns , submissions, and counters. And if you are like Anderson Silva and love to taunt, you will be pressing the d-pad quite often.
During producer Neven Dravinski’s presentation of UFC 2009, he claimed that button mashing would leave you open and that you will be quickly taken out by an experienced player. So during my first match, I wanted to take his word to the test. After getting a few modified punches in and totally failing at grappling, I took a vicious kick to the side of the head. Mymouthguard popped off and down I went. Chuck was out cold after a minute into the first round.
I did pretty well in my second bout by using lots of defense and blocking, as well as getting out of submission attempts by rotating the right-analog stick. Mastering the clinch controls was a bit difficult for me since I only played it twice, but something I hope to master when the game is released. After I got out of a standing clinch, I started laying out my opponent with goodol’ fashion blunt force trauma, hurtin’ bombs. Each fighter plays exactly like his real life counterpart, so I decided to go with Liddell’s strength and go for strikes. After several punches to the head, I delivered a ferocious, forward-dashing punch and my opponent was out cold.
Like the UFC, there is nothing scripted about this game and I witnessed distinct differences between the two matches I played. I was very impressed by UFC 2009: Undisputed. It mixes great qualities from Fight Night and THQ’s other fighting franchise, SmackDown Vs. RAW. From the little time I had, the game seemed to be pretty much complete. The presentation, the authentic fighter models, and the frame rate were all great. I can’t wait to get my hands on the final product on May 19th and master my mixed martial-arts fighting skills.