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UFC Undisputed 2010
Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Yukes
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Fighting/ Sports

Graphics & Sound:
At this time last year, I couldn't have cared less about the UFC or mixed martial arts in general. My attitude changed when THQ released the stellar UFC Undisputed and blew me away. Now a full-blown MMA fanatic, I stepped up to the challenge of UFC Undisputed 2010 with expectations set high and to be short; Undisputed 2010 does not disappoint.

Last year's UFC had over 80 fighters to choose from on the roster. This year the entire UFC roster, which includes over 100 fighters, is present as well as a few additional fighters for PS3 fans including UFC legend, Royce Gracie. Every fighter has the attention to detail that made the previous entry so eye-popping and gorgeous. Some fighters have scars and intricate tattoos, while others groom their body hair in unique ways and it all shines through with impressive visuals. Even UFC fighter, Clay Guida made his debut this year with his luscious locks of hair still intact after being absent in last year's version due to technical limitations.

The animations have been improved as well making an already hyper-realistic game come closer to the quality of a televised fight. Fighters' movements are based on a physics system that reacts dynamically to all situations. For example, when I was playing as head-kicking enthusiast, Mirko Cro Cop, my opponent ducked my high kick and went straight for a takedown. Being that Cro Cop missed, he spun his leg around to finish the missed animation, but was caught in the takedown attempt from behind as he was spinning which left me falling onto one leg with my opponent in full control on top of me. I was shocked at first, but then I was deeply impressed with how much the animation system directly impacts the strategy of the fighting system.

The voicework for 2009 was decent. The announcers simply commented on the story between the different combinations of fighters in the ring. In 2010, the announcers actually comment on your actions. Do you prefer to stand and strike? The announcers will comment on your fighting style and suggest tips for different opponents like being more defensive or going for takedowns if you are at a reach disadvantage. Like last year's game, I rarely heard a line of dialogue repeated more than once and the transition between audio clips is just like a live TV commentary, which always helps when friends are watching you play. The overall presentation of UFC Undisputed 2010 is top-notch and like its video-game relative, WWE, is coming closer each year to emulating the real thing.

The fighting system for UFC 2009 was complicated. There were rules for standing, rules for grappling, rules for the ground, and rules for submissions. It became very intimidating for new players to step on the mat when there was so much that had to be learned in order to play competently. Luckily, UFC 2010 has streamlined most of the fighting system into two basic systems: striking and grappling. Striking plays identically to last year's, including special strikes and high-and-low guards. The only notable addition to striking is the "sway" feature which allows fighters to quickly bob and weave any telegraphed punch or kick. The rest of the fighting situations are now all lumped together into one control system that places emphasis on rotations of the Right Analog Stick. It's a little confusing at first, but once it clicks it becomes natural.

The only negative thing I have to say is the submission system still feels unintuitive. Maybe it is just me, but I have never been successful with any submission attempt in either version of the game, but it doesn't help that the basic strategy is always to frantically rotate the Analog Stick

For many players, the real longevity of UFC 2010 will be the online play. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, I was unable to enter any online matches pre-release, but my score does not reflect any online gameplay aspects. (After release, if the online play significantly affects the experience, we will update as necessary.) I was able, however, to create on Online Fight Camp, which is basically a fighting guild. Players create and organize camps together where they can train with one another or compete against other camps. The idea sounds great and honestly I am surprised UFC is the first to implement such an idea, but again I was unable to actually compete online at the time of writing.

Returning modes from 2009 include the insanely meticulous Career Mode and Ultimate Fights Mode where the player relives great fights throughout UFC history with specific goals to achieve in each fight. Create-a-Fighter returns with more depth and options to make the perfect personal pugilist and Title Mode lets you choose a weight division and battle your way to the belt.

Fans opting for the PlayStation 3 version of UFC Undisputed 2010 will receive a special treat on the Blu-ray. Five full-length fights included in the package span a good range of UFC history including the unforgettable season finale of The Ultimate Fighter Season One between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar and UFC 100 Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir. The addition of these fights plus the rest of package makes this a complete deal for any UFC fan, and if you have the choice between the two, go for the PS3 version.

As I mentioned before, the system is complicated. For newcomers, the learning curve is steep and full of losses and frustrations. With the exception of Title Mode, most of my fights ended with KO's or TKO's from plenty of head kicks or head punches. Eventually, the A.I. breaks down and lets a few hits in which makes it easier for first-timers. It isn't all a cake walk, however, in Title Mode or Title Defense Mode. Opponents are devious and will exploit any weakness you have to beat you in the first round. Fighting smarter, not harder is the message here. Although the difficulty is brutal at times, it's not impossible.

Game Mechanics:
Each fighter differentiates themselves by their fighting discipline. This year saw the addition of three new fighting styles: Sambo, Karate, and Greco-Roman Wrestling which brings the final tally of disciplines up to nine. Couple that with a new "A la carte" move list, where you can pick and choose individual fighting techniques from across all disciplines for one fighter, and you have the deepest fighting system around. For example, let's say you have a fighter who excels and grapple techniques, like Judo. You can choose to give him a strong Muay Thai head kick to make him more deadly at a distance while also giving him submission techniques from Jiu-Jitsu to make him a more well-rounded MMA fighter. Each move you assign also levels up the more you use it in order to make it more effective in snap situations. The controls are the same as 2009, so luckily there isn't anything new to learn for those already familiar with the series. Shoulder buttons are modifiers for attacks and guards, while the face buttons control each leg and arm. The developers at Yukes have succeeded in making UFC Undisputed 2010 as simple as possible while still maintaining the depth fans have come to expect.

UFC Undisputed 2010 is a great game made better. 2009's entry was already an impressive achievement for Mixed Martial Arts fans, but UFC 2010 knocks out last year's game by providing a complete experience and layers of fan-service that won't leave anyone disappointed. Any pretenders to the throne have a long way to climb because UFC Undisputed 2010 has set the bar very high. This is the best way to experience UFC in those long weeks in between Pay-Per-View fights. UFC Undisputed 2010 really is the ultimate fighter... until next year.

-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

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