UFC: “What the f*ck was THQ thinking” is THQ’s attempt to one-up their smash title, UFC Undisputed 2009. It’s worthy to note that UFC Undisputed 2009 was an excellent game but was probably prone to giving you carpal tunnel syndrome because submissions were given to the players who basically button mashed the fastest. Yes, it wasn’t the most thoughtful submission system, but the way it overlooked the details of being logically ‘undisputed’ were what made it shameless fun for any audience of players.
I don’t know if the person who developed UFC is very old and gained a minor misconception of what people dislike about ‘button mashing’ in fighting games or if UFC was truly trying to go in a different direction, but the submission system is, by far, Undisputed’s biggest pitfall ever. Without gameplay, it should be known that a game has no true substance. Undisputed is the example of a game that has all of the bells and whistles, presentation and anything else you could ask for. But without gameplay? This game has no solid leg to stand on, and that’s what leaves UFC Undisputed 2010 very disadvantaged.
The player assumes the role of their very own created character. The game is extra detailed in the specifics of character customization, from the spacing of the eyebrows to hair color, styles of hair, chest hair, facial hair, eye color, tattoos and everything. This kind of detail is practically unparalleled, as it allows players to inject endless amounts of personality into their characters and truly put ‘themselves’ on the screen. The player can pick different voices (which also sound like different personalities) but plays through the same story: The main character is a rookie just entering the UFC with an opportunity to perform in front of the league’s top gun, Dana White. After winning the first fight, the player eventually gets to join the likes of their favorite UFC fighters, fighting to earn the championship and be at the top of the list of contenders.
UFC Undisputed 2010 has an incredible amount of features, though their importance is dwindled by Undisputed’vs lack of quality overall. It’s what makes the game so bittersweet, as the ability to train in camps, earn sponsors, customize trunks with sponsor logos and so much more is put into a game where the submission system is completely screwed. Even the moveset that you could potentially earn is great. The camps are, of course, actual camps with presumably famous instructors and they teach you various styles DEPENDING ON THE CAMP YOU ENTER! It’s like a match made in heaven with the precision put into this game, and yet it’s so far from greatness. The moveset is very impressive, as Brazillian Jiujitsu heads and simple fans can enjoy the presence of new locks you didn’t see in UFC 2009 and the very extensive, more in depth incorporation of new styles.
And yet, it’s so far from greatness….
What keeps UFC Undisputed 2010 from being a masterpiece is, firstly, the horrible career mode. Sure, it’s entertaining at first when you get to be on magazine covers, do interviews, balance your own training regimen and approach fights at 100% to move up in the ranks and progressively fight your way to the championship. But then, in a horrid revelation, you realize that THAT’S ALL THE GAME IS. Magazine covers, training camps, interviews, training regimen, sparring partner, fight. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. Get some advice from your coach every now and then but the game is the same in and out, in and out, and the process never changes. It becomes incomprehensibly boring and you’re stuck repeating the same processes repeatedly. With such great wrestling games, you’d figure THQ was more than experienced in putting together a brilliant trademark fighting game based off a popular program.
UFC keeps its comprehensive striking gameplay but the submission system, as mentioned to the point of exhaustion before, is completely messed up. But firstly, before we get to that, let me just say that UFC’s striking is a very vivid system, it’s very lucid and simple. The R buttons work great as punch modifiers and it works so that the game forces you to correctly time your strikes before they land, as well as your clinches and other things. Distance is a major factor as well as the attacks you commence. This is what factors into submissions. UFC has implemented a more important stamina system, so that being gassed automatically makes you prone to being submitted. No longer is your determination to get out a real factor, it depends on how tired you are, and that’s a stupid way of making submissions work.
What about the times a fighter is able to lock in a submission at the beginning of the fight and when? What about the fighter that caught Anderson Silva in a random heel hook when he was tired and at the point of being brutalized? What about the times when someone tired actually -does- get out of a submission? Is it very rarely, or something? I don’t think so, not enough to make the bold assumption that every tired fighter will be submitted. What’s worse is that the ‘shine system’ is the awkward, continuous circling of the analog stick to break out of a submission hold. Do you know how awkward it is to continually circle your thumb until you wriggle out of a submission hold? Not to mention that merely shining alone never works, you have to practically be at full stamina to break away from holds. It’s simply a ridiculous system.
The elitist snobbery of ‘hmph, button mashing!’ is something that has taken UFC down many points in my book. Button mashing made that game fun, and if there’s something you don’t do in a video game, it’s ignoring an excellent opportunity at entertaining the player for the sake of very dull realism. There was a lot of backlash against Undisputed for incorporating this system and, honestly, I can’t say I blame some of the players who were disappointed. This system could’ve been more well done and better worked out for novice players and casual gamers alike. Submissions on the basis of stamina takes away the importance of holds and places it all on endurance — something that may have players less on the aggressive side for the sake of preserving their energy. It simply isn’t fun.
Another thing that absolutely disgusted me for the incorporation of a code for online play. (Un)fortunately, I had bought the game so I received the opportunity to test the multiplayer for myself, but I can’t help but wonder how disappointed players will feel when they realized they’ve been scammed out of their time and money. UFC’s multiplayer is hardly anything to hold your breath for, much less pay $60 for. It’s a laggy lobby and a discombabulation of flailing limbs when you get in the ring. What’s more disappointing is the shine system’s bias to the player that’s doing the submission. Submission defense is less honed than submission offense, and it’s easier to make a submission than to break one. That’s just assuming you connect to a game. UFC’s servers are so laggy that, even with a decent high speed connection that plays most games smoothly, you find yourself continually mashing X and impatiently waiting to be connected to the next lagfest of choppy blows and a poorly done submission system.
All in all, UFC crossed a boundary you should never cross for realism in a video game: The boundary of entertainment. I don’t care if Undisputed looks like its transpiring right in front of me with its crisp graphics and its incredible backing that immerses me in sponsorship and product placement. I don’t care if Undisputed is the most advanced game to come out on any next generation console. The bottom line is: If a game doesn’t have gameplay, then nothing else truly matters. We play the game to play the game, and that is why Undisputed gets a 5/10 for being halfway there.