Pride FC hands-on

THQ shows off an updated version of its upcoming mixed-martial-arts fighter for the PS2.

THQ dropped by the GameSpot offices recently with an 80- to 85-percent complete build of Pride FC, its upcoming licensed mixed-martial-arts game for the PlayStation 2. The game is coming along really nicely, looks sharp, and should be quite fun when it lands on store shelves in January.

Pride FC is being developed by Anchor, the Japanese development studio responsible for the first Ultimate Fighting Championship game for the Dreamcast. While the gameplay in Pride will seem instantly familiar to fans of the UFC games, it really feels like Pride will add an extra level or two of depth to the proceedings. Many of the game's fighters will have signature moves, and it sounds like some of the real-life fighters have been pretty involved in the process of ensuring that the combatants' moves, styles, and appearances are represented in a realistic fashion.

The game has a pretty standard collection of modes. The main mode is a tournament styled after the real-life Pride events. Sixteen fighters enter the tournament bracket, and you can set any of these entrants to be either human- or computer-controlled. There are also exhibition fights and a survival mode to choose from, as well as a fighting-game-like training mode that lets you set your opponent's position and disposition and then practice on him.

The mode that seemed to show off the most impressive level of depth was the create-a-fighter mode. You can, of course, configure your fighter's appearance, from clothes and tattoos to facial structure. But the interesting part is the move assignment system. You can assign any of the game's moves to your fighter, and strikes can be crafted into custom combos using a branching combo tree that lets you plug in moves anywhere along the tree. Different strikes are rated in speed and strength, so, for instance, you could create combos that deliver three quick hits and finish with a clobbering fourth and fifth hit.

Pride's graphics are looking even sharper than when we last saw them. The player models have an incredibly smooth look to them that is definitely superior to what we're used to seeing on the PlayStation 2. The game's animation is top-notch, and the fighters don't appear to clip through each other very often, which helps maintain the appearance of actual contact on strikes, grabs, and other moves.

Pride FC should be finished near the end of this year, and THQ will release it to the public in January. For more information on the fighters found in the game and a little more background information, check out our 2865768previous coverage of the game.

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Jeff Gerstmann

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.
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