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UFC Undisputed 2010
Score: 75%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Yukes
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1; 1 - 2 (Ad Hoc)
Genre: Fighting/ Sports/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:
For a game that consists mostly of punching and kicking people, it sure did take UFC Undisputed 2010 a long time to come out on Sony's handheld, the PSP. The UFC fan base has surely grown over leaps and bounds in the past few years. It would have been appropriate to release it alongside it's bigger console cousin back in May to offset the dilemma that it now faces: finding a market.

Every so often, a game comes along that I have to stop and ask "Why bother?" In the case of UFC, I don't think I have ever asked myself that question so sternly. I can't really think of a good reason why a PSP version of UFC 2010 exists. Obviously being on a handheld means that this is visually inferior to the PlayStation 3 version, though it doesn't look bad for a PSP game. The in-game character models do their best to visualize the real life fighters pretty well. Occasionally, there are a few fighters who look like a pixellated mess, mostly created fighters, but the big names of UFC, like Brock Lesnar and George St. Pierre, are well represented and look like their real-life counterparts. Sure, there are some severe cutbacks in the audience animations (literally paper-thin) and referees, but those were necessary to make the real draw (the fighters) stand out more.

Although, the developers did cutback on the audio too, which might upset some players. Most of the stock music is there, but all audio commentary is ripped out unless you install UFC 2010 onto a memory stick. I was little disappointed by this because I rather enjoyed the dynamic commentary from Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg on PS3, but I did not have the space requirements on my memory stick. There is some audio recorded for cut-scenes during Career Mode and all of the live-action footage from real-life fights, but it was an interesting feeling to hear the commentators talk about your fight. For what it is worth, though, the impact of the punches and kicks still sounds just as brutal on the PSP as it did on the big TV's too.


Gameplay:
So, back to the question of "Why bother?" I mean this is a well-built, fairly competent facsimile of the UFC Undisputed 2010 experience boiled down to the PSP, but honestly who would want to play UFC on their handheld? Anyone that was interested in the title has probably already picked it up for either PS3 or Xbox 360 months ago. If they haven't, statistics would suggest they they already own one of the other consoles, so why play the handheld version?

The overall experience is inconsistent in pick-up-and-play sessions. The exhibition fights can be super quick, sometimes ending in the first round, but Career Mode and Ultimate Fights can sometimes take upwards of 12 - 15 minutes, which in my opinion is a little too long for one fight on a handheld. The main problem has more to do with a cluttered Menu system than the actual difficulty of the fights. Going through page after page of menus and options and settings just to get to the core of the gameplay is not fun and just shows that is not streamlined at all for the PSP. In fact, the only change that was made was an accommodation for the lack of buttons (more on that in a bit,) but other than that this is largely the EXACT same game from a few months back.

All of the same modes are here: Career, Exhibition, Title Defense, Ultimate Fights, Tournaments, Online play... it's actually quite impressive that UFC 2010 was able to make the transfer to PSP without losing any features (other than graphics.) The revamped fighting system and creation tools are still present as well. The sway system works well on the D-pad and assigning specific moves to your up and coming amateur is still fun and dynamic. Once I settled back into the groove of training camps, focused training, stat management, and sponsorships, the Career Mode became compelling all over again. But I still can't shake the feeling that I have already been down this road before and I didn't see anything new.

The actual fighting system is still deep and complicated, but it is still just as much fun to mash away on the punch buttons until you see your opponent hit the mat. If it weren't so satisfying feeling like a pro when you make someone submit or win by a clean knock out, most of the other fringe features simply would not work out (which is my chief complaint for most WWE titles, developed by the same team.) The active participation of most of the gameplay modes hinges on the idea that you are willing to submit yourself to tedium in order to progress, which is unfortunately only exacerbated by my next point.


Difficulty:
UFC Undisputed 2010 is too easy. There is some level of difficulty if you stay true to the roots of the genre and play with a gameplan. That strategy actually comes with mixed results; sometimes it works great in your favor and increases the dynamic of the different martial arts styles, but most often there isn't any need. Simply mashing out enough punches or kicks to the head of the opponent is enough to win most fights even on the hardest setting. So to whomever might be picking up UFC on PSP, it might not present much of a challenge. Being in a large retail chain for several years, I can safely assume that the majority of the purchases for UFC on PSP would be from young boys (because it is the same kids who buy the WWE games on PSP.) I fear they might face one of two extremes: either they would be too frustrated from the complicated fight system to really enjoy it, or not be stimulated enough because pressing (Triangle) plus (R) enough times will almost always assure a victory.

Game Mechanics:
So as I mentioned earlier, the new fight system for UFC Undisputed 2010 translates over to PSP quite well. There are some modifications to the controls because the handheld device simply does not have the same number of buttons as a DualShock 3. So, movement is controlled with the D-pad and the patented "sway" system is triggered by double-tapping any direction you choose. The (L) and (R) buttons act as modifiers to all the attacks on the face buttons, so you can use low and high attacks, respectively.

The real change is in the submission system. Once you end up on the mat and have to fight in the ground game, you can end it quickly if you have a good submission move. The PSP button input was changed to pressing (Triangle) and (Circle) simultaneously instead of clicking one of the Analog Sticks on the DualShock. The input is much better and I prefer it over the original method, but it still frustrates the experience because you still have to quickly rotate the useless Analog Nub on the PSP to either escape or clinch a submission move, which hardly ever works the way you want.

The fact that UFC Undisputed 2010 was successfully ported to the PSP is impressive. This is a fully-featured game with deep customization options and a solid fighting mechanic sure to keep any MMA fan happy. The problem is timing. At this point, many months after the proper retail release of UFC 2010 on PS3, there isn't any need to pick this up. If you ONLY have a PSP and are looking for a MMA experience, this will do. But to anyone who hasn't played UFC yet and has either a PS3 or Xbox 360, pick those up instead. Not only will it look and play much better, it's actually going to be cheaper than this, depending on your retailer. UFC Undisputed 2010 is great. It just doesn't need to be on the PSP.


-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

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