UFC Undisputed 2010

Do you know what a review embargo is? It’s a date set by a publisher that we are only allowed on, or after, to publish a review. Some publishers are sneaky – if they’re putting out a duff game they sometimes won’t allow websites to put a review up until the game has been released to minimise bad coverage. Our embargo for UFC Undisputed 2010? Four full days before release, suggesting that THQ are as pleased as punch (no pun intended) for this full swinging sequel. (Pun intended that time).

Like its predecessor it’s a very technical brawler with a deep and complex control system. It’s a good idea to play through the fifteen minute long tutorial as every single button is used on the joypad at some point. The amount of manoeuvres is impressive – as well as blocking punches you can also sway out of harms way, counter attack or attempt to grab whatever limb is heading into your direction. Anybody will be able to pick up the pad and punch and kick like a rabid mad man – you might even win a few of the beginner matches this way – but to perform submissions, clinches and get back on your feet you need a little know-how.

The CPU opposition certainly knows how exploit your weaknesses. Some foes will take everything you throw at them on the chin (literally) and then lash out with a vicious combo once your stamina is drained; others will constantly try to force you to the ground. At the start of one fight my rival took a run up and belted me in the face, knocking me out instantly. And that was that – the match was over in less than five seconds, which I certainly didn’t see coming.

If only the career mode was as remarkable as the AI. There’s no cut-scenes, no story and during the fights there’s no commentary, even though there is in the main modes. Interaction is limited to choosing to rest or train and to pick who to fight next. There are a few nice ideas, like attracting sponsors and making other fighters your rival by taunting them, but overall content is severely lacking. Even WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2007 had a more entertaining career mode than this.

Fortunately the other modes make up for career mode’s short-comings. Playing through classic fights unlocks movie clips of renowned matches while online play has been spruced up since last year’s edition. It’s possible to form a camp and act as either a trainer or trainee, recruiting new members as you please while fan-made events can be created and uploaded. Create a player mode is comprehensive as well – I managed to make a chap with pink hair and blue eyebrows.

Japan-based developer Yukes has done a good job with the presentation – the commentary really impresses, with the commentators very quick to respond to what’s going on screen. Before a match they even discuss your win/loose record, and will talk about your fighting style by examining how you’ve fought before. Animation is smooth and most impressive is the way that the fighters take damage – repeat kicks and punches to the opposition results in cuts, bruises and swelling. Sweat and blood looks disturbingly realistic. I did find a something frustrating though – when loosing a match there’s no instant retry option. Instead you have to watch a loading screen, and then the match results, and then select retry and sit through the pre-match banter before getting back into the action. It’s so unnecessary.

It also goes without saying that this isn’t massively different from last year’s iteration – like an aging celebrity it has just had a few nips and tucks here and there – but with the achievements challenging to unlock and an unlimited supply of pugilists to punch online you should be able to get your monies worth out of it.

NB: If you’re planning to buy a second hand copy in the future then be aware – you need a code to play online. If your code has already been used, then you have to pay for it!

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