E3 2008: UFC Undisputed 2009 - Updated Impression

Well known for their SmackDown vs. RAW series, THQ ups the ante even further with its first UFC offering.

THQ and wrestling games are almost synonymous. The studio's SmackDown vs. RAW series has enjoyed widespread popularity among wrestling enthusiasts, and its fan base is likely to grow even further as it tosses its hat into the UFC octagon. We first saw the company's latest creation, UFC Undisputed 2009, during its media debut at the Ultimate Fighter finale in late June. Although the game hasn't changed much since then, E3 provided us with our first opportunity to grill the development team on how the gameplay is shaping up.

As we mentioned in our first look, UFC Undisputed features a brand-new graphics and collision engine that could become the benchmark for any game in the wrestling or mixed martial-arts genres in the future. The player models look as sharp as in any game we have seen, not just sports titles. Although we have seen only a handful of the 80-some fighters (across the five weight divisions) that will be included in the game, every model that we saw was easily recognizable, and some, such as UFC superstars BJ Penn and Anderson Silva, look like splitting images of their real-life counterparts. The static models are not the only element that adds to the realism. During a demonstration featuring Rampage Jackson and Forrest Griffin, it is clear that efforts have been made to capture each fighter's facial expressions and mannerisms. Everything from their prefight antics to their postknockout celebrations seem authentic to the fighter.

The progress made in capturing facial expressions plays a vital role during the gameplay itself as well. UFC Undisputed features no HUD or visible health bars of any kind. Instead, you will be expected to gauge the fatigue and condition of your fighter simply by the visible damage, responsiveness of your fighter, and the way in which your fighter is breathing. Fighter injury progression is well done (and is most apparent during replays), and the subsequent blood that flies off of cut combatants will stain the ring for the remainder of the fight. Fighter damage and conditioning are most evident in-between rounds when the camera zooms in close to the fighters as they return to their corners. The cut men and trainers, all of whom will be authentic, will also provide you with feedback to help you measure the status of your fighter (in fact, their speech is actual speech used during various UFC telecasts). In case those queues aren't enough, round intermissions also feature highlight reels of the most devastating hits from the previous round.

The lack of visual monitors on the screen during gameplay is part of THQ's effort to capture the excitement and spectacle of a UFC broadcast event. There are no fighter entries into the ring. Instead, fighter introductions feature the exact same tale-of-the-tape screen that you would see on prior to a fight on television. If the game has loading times, they are hidden well behind the prefight routines (unfortunately, without a hands-on opportunity, we won't know for sure whether this is the case or not). Crowds react dynamically to the action in the ring and begin chanting if one fighter seems to be getting the upper hand. Even the audio commentary of Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, for better or for worse, gives the game an authentic feel. It is THQ's hope that this emphasis on a broadcast-like experience will let players focus solely on the fighters throughout. This is a significant point because the game will require you to be attentive to subtle movements of each fighter. This is especially true once the fight goes down to the mat, given that position will play a vital role in both setting up attack opportunities and limiting damage when your opponent is on top.

The gameplay itself centers on three areas of focus: inflicting damage via strikes, triggering submissions, and improving position. Considering that the game is heavily counter-driven, it will be up to you to factor in the strengths of your particular fighter, the damage needed to soften your opponent before going for a submission, and the timing of the counters themselves. Transitions on the mat come in two flavors, easy and hard. Easy transitions are more conservative whereas harder transitions have a greater likelihood of improving position at the expense of greater risk. This brings a different element of strategy for every fight because, depending on how the fighters' skill sets stack up, you will need to augment your tactics.

Although the game includes moves from various disciplines, including Brazilian jujitsu, kickboxing, and wrestling, among others, THQ assures us that the move sets will be intuitive and won't be reliant on memorizing button sequences. THQ wouldn't elaborate on exactly how the controls would work quite yet, given that they're still being tweaked.

UFC Undisputed will include a career mode in which you will be able to direct your fighter through the ranks of the UFC in various weight divisions. We tried to get insight on whether starting a career as an Ultimate Fighter (the UFC reality show) would also be an option, but THQ says that this has not yet been decided. The game will also include online play, but again THQ was pretty tight-lipped with regard to specifics on the game modes that will be included in the game.

Although the game looks as solid as any we have seen in the wrestling or mixed martial arts, it isn't without its share of issues. As we reported during our first look, animation transitions still feel herky-jerky (though THQ claims this is a known issue that they are still tweaking). The game also plays faster than what you would see in an actual UFC telecast (though this is partially due to the frenzied pace in which we play such games). As a result, the clock in the game progresses roughly twice as fast as it normally would, which is not a big deal but still worth mentioning.

We will bring you all of the news on UFC Undisputed 2009 as we learn more of the game. The game is scheduled for release in the spring of 2009 and will debut on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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32 comments
El_Spicy101
El_Spicy101

this one looks good, im really suprised. i hope the create a fighter mode lets you mix up various fighting styles.

slayer19888
slayer19888

im keeping an eye on this one. looking forward to career mode and fighting with matt hughes and chuck liddell. my all time best fighters.

Wozmcfc
Wozmcfc

As a UFC fan I will keep my eye on this one although I don't think it will turn out to be an amazing game but a good one at least.

xxSizzlerxx
xxSizzlerxx

I was hoping EA was going to do the game, but maybe with the new engine and everything, it'll turn out pretty good!

danbrake
danbrake

this is a game i will b waiting for a long time can not wait BRAPPP

ONESHOT3223
ONESHOT3223

I've been waiting for a UFC game to come out on the 360 for a while now, hope since it has a late release date they will have it tuned up just right.

threedown
threedown

funny how some of the comments are " im no UFC fan so i wont be checking this out"... why are you reading an article about a UFC game and commenting on it then???? it looks cool, seems like theyre really trying to make it good, hopefully it comes together well, i do have my doubts, but well see when it comes out

p9t2r
p9t2r

does anybody know what real wrestling is? its not WWE its not body slams all the time its an incredibly technical sport that has huge influences in mixed martial arts you guys need to see some real collegiate wrestling in action

leofiregod
leofiregod

should be good being made by thq

Jerell_rast
Jerell_rast moderator

This game looks good! However, I really hope they include more defensive systems other than blocking.

123outlaw
123outlaw

there gonna be 80 fighters in this game all the big name are gonna be in this game

HATE_DESTROY
HATE_DESTROY

I love the Mixed Martial Arts league and i think UFC is one of the best and hopefully this game wont be a big let down like the previous UFC and Pride FC cuz those games SUCKED!!!

TehFuneral
TehFuneral

I will probably pass on this one.

Panman_Dan
Panman_Dan

this isn't a wrestling game people!!! It's mixed martial arts and wrestling is not considered a martial art.

Giflow
Giflow

I hope they include head movements thats a big part of mma in those new gameplay trailers i didnt see any defensive head movement the only defense i saw was blocking please fix that.

akiwak
akiwak

Been waiting for this game since it was first announced a year ago. I'm ahuge fan of the UFC and look forward to playing as BJ Penn. I hope that Randy Couture also makes an appearence considering the issues he is currently having with the UFC. He is my all time favorite fighter so please make this happen THQ and UFC. I see this as a hard task to capture in a video game considering the many possibilities in ending a fight in MMA. That is why I will remain patient and look forward to getting this game next year.

BigDaddy973
BigDaddy973

Sounds pretty cool, now this is "Real" fighting haha, none of that WWF bull.

FraserAlexander
FraserAlexander

the only thing that sucks about this game is that it isn't comming out for a looooooooong time. :(

grambyte
grambyte

Can't interest me at all and it doesn't so that's settled.

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

l'll pass this one since it doesn't interest me in the stage demo anyway

Panman_Dan
Panman_Dan

This is not a wrestling game... Wresting and MMA (mixed martial arts) are separate sports. Wrestling technically is not a martial art however its techniques are adopted by MMA fighters to add to their other backgrounds in perhaps Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and BJJ (Brazilian Jui Juitsu) to name a few.

Hungry_bunny
Hungry_bunny

I haven't seen Wrestling since ten years back.

Cube_of_MooN
Cube_of_MooN

I'm no UFC fan, so I won't be checking this one out.

greendestiny7
greendestiny7

I'm a Huge UFC fan, I hope this game comes correct.

ocdog45
ocdog45

funny how they have forrest griffen on the main ufc page now after rampage got his ass whooped.

jfpime
jfpime

Sounds like an interesting game.. Let's hope the final product is great ;)

mariohughes87
mariohughes87

Hopefully this will be a good game representation of mma