The ultimate part of Ultimate Fighting Championship rings true – it takes the best parts of wrestling, kickboxing, muay thai and judo and does away with most of their rules. In fact, the only real rule is that you can’t fight like a sissy, punching below the belt, biting, scratching and pulling hair. That’ll be me out of the octagon ring in less than 10 seconds, then.
It’s in a gamer’s nature to skip past tutorials but it’s worth playing through the one that appears at the start. Success depends on knowing how to reverse attacks, get out of grapples and perform takedowns and submissions. Getting out of a submission involves wildly rotating the right analogue stick – I’m sure that a lot of joypads are going to have a few years knocked off their life expectancy because of this.
Japanese developer FromSoftware made a smart move by deciding to make this Xbox 360 ninja-based brawler. The simple reason being that ninja games are popular on both sides of the world. But let’s face it, any game that lets you smack a giant spider in the gob with a wrecking ball, or crush a mutated woman who has snakes for arms with a steam roller, is bound to sell better than the likes of Ninety Nine Nights and A-Train HX.
Comparisons with Ninja Gaiden II are to be expected. It’s so incredibly similar to Tecmo’s slightly lacking slasher though that with a few nips and tucks it could easily be passed off for a third Ninja Gaiden instalment. Lead character Ken (who Capcom had a hand in designing) has a near identical skill set to Ninja Gaiden’s Ryu, capable of running up and along walls, casting Ninjutsu magic spells and dodging attacks. Other similarities – enemies leave orbs behind that can be used to upgrade swords, the levels are the same length (around an hour each) and Ken can carry weapons the size of small countries without hassle.