UFC Undisputed 2009 Hands-On Impressions

We get our bloody fists on a near-final copy of UFC Undisputed 2009 to hit the gym and check out the game's extensive Career mode.

While Brian was off shredding his skinagainst the other GameSpot editors in the interest of proving his office-wide MMA dominance, here in the Aussie office we decided to go for a more subtle approach.

Previously, we've tackled (pun intended) UFC Undisputed 2009's multiplayer gameplay, sized up the fighting controls, and taken the more than 80-character-strong rosters to the mat. Although the multiplayer stands out as a particular strong point, it's hard not to act on the appeal of the single-player Career cage fighting when there's no physical risks associated to you the player. We got our hands on an almost-finished build of the Xbox 360 version of the game and tried to build ourselves a name in the octagon.

The first thing you'll do when you decide you want to sign away your natural good looks and symmetrical facial-bone structure for a mouth guard and legions of roaring fans is to customise the way that you appear onscreen. UFC 2009 offers plenty of choice here, and you're able to either pick from a selection of premade character types or build one from the ground up. Our version included 13 different torso appearances, ranging from stomachs with chiselled washboard abs to the less-physically-defined beer gut. Although the templates are a good way to jump straight into the gameplay, if you want to take the time to play god and craft your perfect physical specimen, the customisation options are certainly available to you. There's even an entire subset of menus dedicated to naming your character, choosing a nickname that the announcers will call you by, your hometown, your fighting location, and your character's age. These are all purely cosmetic decisions, so making a character the maximum 45 years of age has no impact on your stamina or strength once you start doing matches.

Proportional height and weight sliders mean that you can choose a behemoth hulking around the ring or a nimble character with a lower centre of gravity, though our brief amount of time with the code means that we're still unsure if your size and martial-arts style are linked, such as picking a smaller-stature body type and specialising in ground grappling. Skin tone, hair type, head and brow size, eyes and nose, cheeks, and mouth can all be tweaked and prodded until you're happy, and there are separate menus to pick your tattoos, clothing style (including yellow form-fitting short-shorts if you so desire), and branded outfits as you unlock them through the Career mode.

Just because it's in a cage doesn't mean it's safe.

Once you're done messing around with the beauty sliders, you'll want to make your two tough decisions: your character's standing-striking and ground-grappling styles. For upright, you'll be able to choose between boxing, kickboxing, or Muay Thai, whereas on the ground your options are Brazilian jujitsu, wrestling, and judo. Regardless of whether you prefer upright hard hitting or the ground cuddling of throws and clinching, you'll be given an initial 174 points to spend on fight skills. You'll also get 285 points to allocate to your strength, speed, and cardio performance.

Once you're kitted out and ready to fight, you'll need to choose from two available boot-camp trainers. Mike offers you a five-point bonus to your offensive and defensive standing attacks, whereas choosing to train with Antoine will improve your submission skills by the same amount. Now that all of that is out of the way, it's time to focus on what the UFC is all about: e-mail. Wait, what? Inside your gym you'll begin getting messages from UFC president Dana White and your promoter Joe Silva as they school you on appropriate fighter conduct, your responsibilities to training, and being a suitable role model to the kids when choking out your opponent in unsanctioned backyard matches across the country. As you train, you'll get e-mail updates that detail match results and ranking changes. The option of choosing an opponent also comes through your e-mail; Joe will send you known fighters who you can take on, or you can opt for the random element and go into the match blind.

Once you've selected who you want to pummel, you'll be given a countdown to the bout in weeks, and it's up to you to prepare in the way you see fit from choices of cardio, strength, or speed training. Points in each of the skills are gained in relation to the intensity of the training done. One point is usually awarded for a light workout, and two for a moderate or intense session. It's worth mentioning that you'll also need to manage your stamina bar. Gaining a few points in one discipline is great for advancing your skills, but doing it with high-intensity training will mean that you'll deplete your energy levels faster, and you'll need to throw in a rest week before you can go again. Sparring training is also available and is the only interactive form of workout. Here you'll battle an AI opponent in the ring against a timer, with your success determined by how many blows you land, how many times you're taken to ground, and the number of hits you successfully mitigate with your blocks.

The whole game plan changes when you hit the mat.

Career matches run much like their multiplayer counterparts, except that you'll go up against the game's AI instead of a living, breathing human player. Regardless of our opponent's fighting style, we found that our opponents in early matches played reasonably conservatively, though they often left themselves open enough for getting in quick jab combos and enough window to follow up with a haymaker power punch. Winning will give you a breakdown of points from the match, including, where relevant, a performance bonus, fight award bonus, sponsorship bonus for wearing sponsor clothing, and your total cred reward. As you win fights and your cred reward grows, you'll have the option to take on better brand sponsors and align yourself with various gyms.

UFC Undisputed 2009 is rapidly approaching its late May global launch date, and a demo has just been unleashed on Xbox Live and Sony's PlayStation Network, giving you the chance to try out your skills before the game knocks over shelves shortly. Check back soon for our full review.

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66 comments
Kilibarda18
Kilibarda18

Jerant you are retarded and should not be able to play the game if you can only do two submissions. Akadreyadigg maybe try plaing on a harder difficulty.

lil_feets_987
lil_feets_987

played the demo for hours,this is the most fluid game yet,it plays like a fighter with the mechanics of a wrestling game. true to the concept of MMA

Solarburn24
Solarburn24

Man, does this game look sick. Can't wait

Jerant
Jerant

i just hope that in game are not only 2 submision... cuz in demo are only 2 and its boring :D

borggreen
borggreen

" played the demo- hated it, I mean it was fun- but there was no challenge at all... " You can change the difficulty in the demo... Does make it quite a bit harder.

AKADreyadigg
AKADreyadigg

i played the demo- hated it, I mean it was fun- but there was no challenge at all... reminded me of Def Jam series- left punch, right punch, etc... each model is given a distinct style- which I did like btw, because Lidell moved similar to his real life counterpart- but other than that game was crap- submissions were too easy to start, and much easier to get out of- each character had about one "Special move" like the flying knee or superman punch- but the move varied depending on your distance to the character- all in all- it was ok, I wouldn't buy this one, but maybe future iterations of the series will be better- like the Fight Night Series

Giflow
Giflow

I am a huge m.m.a. fan and i thought the demo for ufc 09 was good,i liked what they did with the ground game and of course it is going to take a little while to get use to the controls,but i thought the striking game could have been improved due to the lack of head movement,i know this is not "boxing"but honestly the game would have been a more realistic fighting sim if it included a head movement button command and the hit detection as far as strikes is not as detailed and as accurate,but this game looks like its the best m.m.a. game to ever come out.

newf360
newf360

When I first played the demo I was unsure about this one, but when you get a handle on the moves and play on harder difficulties it's the best fighter game I have ever played. Must Buy!!!!

Doolz2024
Doolz2024

why did you not get the PS3 version to play?

ant27ant
ant27ant

Yea I agree, No mercy on the n64 was the best wrestling game, but this is brilliant, iv played the demo too much, only one slight problem with it though, when you knock someone out with a punch and you get that replay where their face goes into slow motion, its not actually the punch you have thrown, so many times iv knocked someone out and not knocked out their mouth guard, and then in the replay it flys out?? i hope its sorted for the full release, this could be a huge game.

ramswo18
ramswo18

THIS GAME IS GONNA OWN!!!!

TheSicknessX
TheSicknessX

I've been an mma fan for several years and this game is amazing, the demo is really good thus far and I can't wait for May 19th to come around.

spidermanc2k
spidermanc2k

I'm not really all that into MMA at this point, but I'd be a blind fool to say that this isn't one of the best fighting games, and all around games to come out this year. The demo is great fun, and a good learning point. The overall package, including the career mode are icing on the cake for me. I'm buying. Now I just need to figure out which console to get it for...

Riffer420
Riffer420

For all you guys going on about the submission/ground game....first do the training....the ground controls are quite simple but intricate....and push pause while in the fight.....u can see all the different moves u can do from certain positions....for example while in side control/mount/etc.. push pause....then look at the moves....there's plenty believe me. Almost as good as control set as another forgotten THQ release, WWE No Mercy for N64.

Hen123
Hen123

If the demo is this good and addictive to play then imagine the entire game with 80 PLUS FIGHTERS!!! Man I just can't wait for this game to come out just an amazing demo to start. May 19th can't come any faster.

tt_2006
tt_2006

I'm excited for this game! Very realistic ground and standup and i'm eager to see how different the 80+ character roster is...hopefully they didn't just put all of those characters in the game and have half of them fight the exact same. Submissions are the only thing I believe could use work...Many a time on expert/advanced I have been Rua with green stamina and have had Liddel in red stamina with it all depleted and Liddel still breaks out easily. (Do i just need to button mash harder?)

Captain_Yogen
Captain_Yogen

Since i dl the demo, half the time im playing xbox is the ufc demo. The ground stuuf could've been better though

dograw75
dograw75

@Chief while I disagree with a lot of your opinion, I must admit that the control scheme for submissions does leave a little to be desired. I love the game and the controls, I would like more strategy and choice when it comes to the submission and submission defense. That part of the game is a little more about button mashing. I thought you meant that just throwing fast random flurries of strikes would win the match. After re-reading your post I see you clearly stated that about the ground game. My mistake That being said It has been years since ive played sudden impact, and I dont remember it being nearly as fun as this version

SOULCHYLD33
SOULCHYLD33

I CANT STOP PLAYING THE DEMO. THE REALISM OF THE GAME IS SICK, THE CONTROL YOU HAVE WITH THE CHARACTER, THE SWEAT THE BLOOD IS GREAT. HOPEFULLY YOU CAN DOWNLOAD SELF PHOTO ONTO CREATE A PLAYER THAT WOULD BE TIGHT. CANT WAIT FOR THIS GAME TO COME OUT

ChiefOReilly
ChiefOReilly

Negative, I have played the demo lots & can beat expert unless the CPU attempts a submission. Its hardly skillful having submissions determined by stats & mashing/spinning. There is an element of timing to reverse transmissions but that's it. Anyhoo, my main point is its practically an updated port of UFC Sudden Impact with very little originality.

dograw75
dograw75

I agree with DirtyAl, no other demo has held my attention for this long. This game already has me addicted, and thats without career mode and multiplayer. I cannot wait to create a fighter and get started. Oh and @Chief, you must not have played the demo, because strategy is much more important, you have to create openings. Fast random button mashing will only make you eat mat. At least on higher difficulty levels.

DirtyAl
DirtyAl

Never in my life have a downloaded a demo and spent this much time with it... I have to honestly say, I am as excited as a pig in mud about this game... The strategy involved... the gameplay... the graphics... the ambience of the crowd and the ring announcer... The ref... The body damage... everything about this game spells greatness...

Mr_Fujiv1
Mr_Fujiv1

i hope theres instructions that come with this haha looks hard but i cant wait

method115
method115

@Chief Its a little more complex then that. It also depends on your opponents sub defense your sub offense (I think thats what it's called) and your stamina. Not sure if anything else is factored in but I know those three things are.

beekayjay
beekayjay

Very interested....I love create player options, and can't wait to put me in the octogon.

BigDog333187
BigDog333187

Also, I hope you can make your created fighters names longer than like 7 or 8 letters long (ie, fight night)

BigDog333187
BigDog333187

Also, I hope you can make your created fighters names longer than like 7 or 8 letters long (ie, fight night)

BigDog333187
BigDog333187

As soon as I get this I'm creating Fedor. I'll probably choose judo (since its very simular to sambo) and kickboxing. I hope you can build your fighters up to be, like, indestructable. Because that's exactly what fedor is

Sharpy505
Sharpy505

theyve confirmed UFC 09 to the guy below :)

analgrin
analgrin

The demo plays better on expert IMO. Love the demo and cant wait for the game. This is a good start to what i hope is going to be a long and successful franchise. I could argue that i want more moves and throws etc but they will come in the games many sequels that are no doubt gonna be on there way, annually with any luck :)

ChiefOReilly
ChiefOReilly

Did anyone play UFC Sudden Impact? The controls for this are practically identical. Even the menu is the same ie, Combo Menu, Action Menu. Also the ground game is overly simplistic cant stand the idea of the fastest masher or spinner wins.

RazorBlade0311
RazorBlade0311

I have been playing the demo as well for about 3-4 days now, and i can now beat the AI on Expert by the Second round (I'm using Chuck Liddell) But there is the occasional Flash KO or Quick Sub that gets me every now and then. I cant wait til this freakin game comes out, im going to be playing it ALL DAY. Guys if you wanna play me when it comes out, Add me Gamertag: Fr35h Prync3

ryano23277
ryano23277

Played the demo and was having a ball. Then people bag it on its hardest difficulty saying it is too 1 sided. So I put it up to Expert and was beaten easily in 2 fights, but it was 1 hell of a challenge. I then did the tutorial and man has that helped my game improve, playing on the level just below expert and it is a great challenge and have managed to pull of some good ground work. Can't wait to play some unbelievable competition online.

FireworkerV2
FireworkerV2

The demo was very fun but I glitched when goin to back control from rubber guard and my torso went to back control and my legs were still in rubber guard. It freaked me out and I laughed. But really there are 80+2 fighters so quit complaining about the roster. FNR 3 didn't even have half that, and I loved that game.

DKHardee
DKHardee

DL'ed the demo yesterday, badass! I was looking forward to FNR4 but this game is just so addicting. I can't wait for May 19th, best fighting/boxing game thus far. Since THQ is making it, I hope the create a fighter is better than their WWE games create a superstar.

madman_420
madman_420

I gotta see Matt Hamil and Clay Guida in this game, i hope they make them download later, cause this game should allow for some decent DLC in the way of extra fighters. I cant stop playing the demo hours at a time... Game looks Great

Redhairboy491
Redhairboy491

cant believe the absence of certain fighters, but i guess it's natural that some guys wouldn't sign, specially considering dana white's cruddy "contract." Thats misleading, it sounds like there was mutual benefit and not dana just raping his fighters.

NuKkU
NuKkU

This game will be amazing but no matt hamill :( or clay guida :(

bf210
bf210

preordered it yesterday can't wait for May 19th. The demo has been a lot of fun.

wwf20112
wwf20112

I have been playing the demo daily. I am really looking forward to this game. Career mode sounds decent.

jbm08
jbm08

i played the demo and its great i relly want this game

Djdiddles77
Djdiddles77

Sounds like a pretty decent career mode!! The only draw is that it doesn't sound all that interactive! Hope it is good since that is what I like to play in most sports games!

HershalCrusto
HershalCrusto

Goombata don't feel bad that you've only got one submission, my ground game is terrible, I've been playing on advanced and also against some buddies and I am at a solid zero submissions so far. I have to say although I suck on the ground it is a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to getting a chance to work on it, with the 78 other fighters in the game. This is going to be so good.

nerd_assassin
nerd_assassin

@Tonglong And it's not just ads, but sponsor's ads. gregolian is right, it's just another aspect of realism. It's not that the sponsor's have to pay royalty, it's part of buying the license for the game, I think. And I also agree about what gregolian said about the booing, it kind of happened on UFC 97 when Silva was fighting Leites on the main match, and Silva doesn't want to take the fight to the ground. The crowd didn't feel the action so they boo around. They're not clueless, really. They want action.

nerd_assassin
nerd_assassin

I just want to ask if the US demo runs on SDTV, because the EU one sticks to 720p, and I'm only using an SDTV. I really want to play the demo, especially since Liddell was beaten and I want to beat the hell out of Rua in the demo...Seriously though, I really wanted to play the demo...and I'm also scared of buying the game since the demo alone won't let me play on an SDTV 480i resolution.

Mr_Fujiv1
Mr_Fujiv1

i love watch UFC on tv and i cant wait for this game i have pre ordered it so it should be here soon :D graphics look great will be reviewing this game

Goombata
Goombata

The demo was very solid, great visuals, controls, and soundtrack. I'm really looking forward to this game although I've only got 1 submission in the demo so far :/

backatcha
backatcha

This game looks great, I can't wait.