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UFC Undisputed 3 Review

  • First Released Feb 14, 2012
  • Reviewed Feb 13, 2012
  • X360
Aaron Sampson on Google+

UFC Undisputed 3 raises the bar for MMA games and is harder to put down than a heavyweight champ.

While UFC Undisputed games have always offered great mixed martial arts action, UFC Undisputed 3 is the first in the series that also succeeds outside of the octagon. It's also a significantly more accessible game than its predecessors, so you don't need to know a reverse mount from a rear mount to enjoy it.

If you're a newcomer to the series, or just in need of a refresher because you haven't played a UFC game in months, UFC Undisputed 3 has you covered with its comprehensive tutorials. Play through the Guided Tutorial mode's 62 quick exercises, and you learn how to perform everything from simple punches and transitions to dangerous moves like foot stomps and soccer kicks that, while effective in the new Pride competitions, are illegal in UFC matches. Some of the tutorials deal with new or significantly changed gameplay mechanics, so they're worth checking out even if you have previous octagon experience. Submissions are now attempted and defended using an entirely new system, for example.

Rotating the right analog stick as quickly as possible was an inelegant way to resolve submission attempts in previous games, and while it was technically skill-based, it wasn't at all analogous with the struggle onscreen. Thankfully this has been addressed in UFC 3, where submissions employ a minigame of sorts. Two icons representing the fighters move around the perimeter of an octagon-shaped graphic and, depending on whether you're attacking or defending, you either chase or try to stay away from your opponent's icon. It's unfortunate that you end up focusing so intensely on this visual representation of the struggle that you lose sight of the actual fighters, but it's a great system regardless, because it's always clear how well you're doing and what you need to do to improve your situation.

Another interesting improvement inside the octagon is the all-new interaction that you have with your trainer. Not only can he occasionally be heard yelling legitimately useful advice over the noise of the crowd while you're fighting, but in between rounds he offers feedback on both positive and negative aspects of your performance. He might congratulate you on your excellent ground-and-pound work while pointing out that you need to do a better job of blocking your opponent's transitions, for example. Furthermore, you have the option to look at an expanded version of his comments that, often, details what you need to be doing with your controller to act on his advice. MMA fighters have such vast repertoires of moves at their disposal that these reminders can prove invaluable.

Geometric shapes: Taking the guesswork out of submission attempts since 2012.
Geometric shapes: Taking the guesswork out of submission attempts since 2012.

If you find the move lists of pro fighters such as Anderson Silva, Cain Velasquez, and Scott Jorgensen overwhelming, a great way to familiarize yourself with the basics is to jump into the much-improved Career mode. There, you start out as a relative newcomer to MMA with a much smaller repertoire and significantly lower ratings for your physical attributes and fight skills. You might feel sluggish and underpowered early on, and it's an odd sensation to find yourself in a position in which you simply don't have good moves available. This forces you to master the basics though, and there's a great sense of progression as you train between fights.

Training hasn't always been much fun in UFC games, largely because so much of it was menu-driven. Thankfully, that's no longer the case. Minigames replace mathematics in UFC Undisputed 3, so where physical training used to take place on a spreadsheet, now it involves punching bags, focus mitts, and the like. Training exercises do a great job of reinforcing the idea that you're improving as a fighter, not only because you inevitably get better at them as your career progresses, but because they employ the same controls as the moves that they most obviously benefit. Grabbing large tires and flipping them around on a mat plays in much the same way that taking down opponents does, for example. Also, you no longer need to concern yourself with working training into your schedule in such a way that you leave enough time before a fight to recuperate.

Train hard, and the only blood on your created fighter will be your opponent's.
Train hard, and the only blood on your created fighter will be your opponent's.

In UFC 3 you typically get to choose one of five opponents for your next fight and then get just two training sessions beforehand, which you can choose to spend improving your skills and physical attributes, or visiting camps to learn and level up moves. You never have to rest, and you never have to waste time clicking through menus that are presented as media opportunities. You might still end up devoting chunks of time to arranging sponsor logos on your shorts and banner, but you don't need to do this often, and the systems in place for doing so (which also include a new option to design your own logos) are far less unwieldy than in previous UFC games.

Thanks largely to its focus on fighting and fight preparation, Career mode is rarely anything but compelling, and--particularly if you've chosen a challenging difficulty level--you're sure to come away with stories to tell. Maybe you suffered your first career defeat in the dying seconds of a fight that you would surely have won on the judge's scorecards, or earned your first title with a major counterpunch after feeling like you'd already lost the fight. There's potential for memorable moments outside of the ring as well, such as having to choose between a shot at a UFC title and your first opportunity to fight in a Pride tournament, or signing with a gym so that you can learn the most powerful moves that are taught there. You might even find yourself contemplating the new retirement option, if you feel that you've already achieved everything that you set out to.

Regardless of how your lengthy and hopefully illustrious career comes to a close, what you're left with at the end of it is a custom fighter that you know inside and out, and who--depending on how well your training went--can comfortably compete with even top-ranked professionals in other modes. There is an option to create custom fighters and spend points on their abilities without ever going anywhere near Career mode, but you get so few points to spend that you inevitably end up with either a jack-of-all-trades or a master of one. If you want to create a well-rounded fighter, playing through Career mode is a must.

In addition to online matches, which are mostly lag-free this time around, created fighters can be used in custom tournaments against both friends and AI opponents and in the returning Title and Title Defense modes. Title mode is set up much like a traditional fighting game, in that you simply complete a number of fights until you're declared the champion. You can get away with losing up to three times as you battle your way to the top, but any more than that and you have to restart. Playing through Title mode is a great way to familiarize yourself with pro fighters from the roster of over 100, and completing it unlocks the challenging, time-consuming Title Defense mode for play with the fighter that you were using.

The advice you get between rounds is helpful for the most part.
The advice you get between rounds is helpful for the most part.

Where UFC Undisputed 2010's Title Defense mode challenged you to remain undefeated as you were pitted against a maximum of 12 opponents, this year's is a grueling survival mode in which you're expected to compete in up to 100 championship (that is, five-round) fights back-to-back, and only a certain amount of damage is repaired between fights. Understandably, there's no option to save in Title Defense mode because that would make it too easy to complete. An unfortunate side effect of this is that to get anywhere near that 100th fight, you have to play for a long time. Five-minute rounds in UFC 3 actually last for about half that (the seconds count down more quickly than you'd expect in training sessions as well), but fights that go the distance still last around 15 minutes even if you skip through all of the TV-style presentation to speed things up. Most fights don't go the distance, of course, but even if you conservatively allow just five minutes per fight, you're looking at more than eight hours of uninterrupted play to make it to the end.

Benefiting from a more thoughtful makeover in UFC 3 is the Ultimate Fights mode in which you get to either re-create or rewrite history depending on which fighter you choose to play as in some of UFC and Pride's most memorable fights. Rather than just being given a list of objectives to complete during each fight as in previous games, you're now prompted to complete specific goals as the fight progresses, and you're given a time limit for each. Essentially, you're asked to follow a script. It's an interesting way to play because it forces you to use techniques that you might ignore otherwise, and the archive videos that precede each fight offer welcome trips down memory lane.


Whether you're re-creating UFC 113's Lyoto Machida vs. Shogun Rua matchup, taking on all comers online, or training before a big Career mode fight, UFC Undisputed 3 delivers with its slick presentation and its deep but accessible gameplay. Impressive impact animations ensure that every blow you land successfully feels like a triumph, and it's incredibly satisfying just to take an opponent to the ground or to cut him with an elbow, let alone score a KO. Making your successes even more satisfying is the new option to share your favorite moments (as well as custom logos and fighters) with other players online. At all times, UFC 3 keeps recordings of your last 50 rounds of fighting, and while the in-game editing tools are basic at best, it's possible to cut together good-looking highlight reels up to 60 seconds in length. Following an especially good fight you can even have the game assemble a highlight reel for you automatically, though this takes several minutes, and the results aren't always worth the wait. User ratings ensure that the best content bubbles to the surface, but you might be more inclined to check out highlight videos if you didn't have to download them in their entirety before watching them.

Like the best MMA fighters, UFC Undisputed 3 is well-rounded and impresses in a lot of different areas. It improves upon its predecessors at practically every opportunity and, for the moment, is the undisputed champion of MMA video games.

Back To Top
The Good
New submission system rewards skill rather than speedy stick rotation
Comprehensive tutorials make MMA accessible to all
Career mode now focuses on fights and fight preparation
It's fun to rewrite history in Ultimate Fights mode
Option to share highlights online is a great addition
The Bad
Lengthy Title Defense mode lacks a save option
Clicking through TV-style intros and such takes too long
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for UFC Undisputed 3
42 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for ph1lite

not on pc of course. You game makers should try to keep up. Pc has faster load times better graphics better performance in general and controller support. CMON!

Avatar image for ph1lite

I hope they nailed some of the problems in the first game. Such as incredibly annoying ground transititions. Extremely unpredictable flash ko's. Also remove the difficulty setting from the ufc career mode i would recommend. Make it one difficulty and scale, and possibliy change the training regimen around a little bit. I found the ground game the most annoying though. Submissions were also a little strange.

Avatar image for JAKCARVER

seems like an improvment in past ufc games hopfully so

Avatar image for Agent_2X

oh my god! look at the blood!

Avatar image for PeaceMakerUSA

One thing that Gamespot is good at is letting the users of this site rate their experience with video games as well. Maybe ratings aren't the best way to go, but if you like a game, what do the ratings matter. I, personally have played games that I liked that were rated badly and vice versa. Each person has a specific taste, that's what makes us different. I don't blame Gamespot, IGN, Gamefaqs, or any other site or magazine for their game ratings. There are still rental places out there that allow you to try out the games before you buy them. That way, you as the gamer can check out the gtame yourself, rather listen to opinions and basing your purchases there. Everyone has biases about a game, or anything for that matter and are subject to agreement and disagreement. The best way to find out if a game is good for you is to check it out yourself.

Avatar image for hwrdstrnsbals

i dont like this rating. ratings mean everything to me. i live by gamespot ratings. how can life exist outside of gamespot ratings? ratings, ratings, ratings. gamespot reveiws keep becoming more and more disagreeable with me, something has to give. ...and since i dont know where this guy lives, and therefor can't kill him, i must do the only dignified thing left. I must kill myself. FU all

Avatar image for neotheinstein

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for ianisexcellent

@gorgonaut I guess the troubling thing about the rating is that they have made significant improvements, according to the review. The main things about previous games they noted as issues have been fixed, and they don't really mention a significant flaw in the game (outside of the long survival mode), so I'd have expected the review to be higher. It doesn't matter really, what they say is more important than the actual rating in terms of whether it convinces me to make the purchase. And that's what everyone should be looking at - what they say and not the number they give it.

Avatar image for dbene

@gorgonaut...not sure what you mean by grow up. I'm simply stating that a score system where basically anything below 6 (in most people's minds) is completely unplayable.....when in actuality a 6 should be slightly above average.

Avatar image for miserable247365

How's the online play? Any improvements on connectivity? I'm hoping yes, but betting no.

Avatar image for deactivated-57bfa8d18cfe7

Admittedly, though, I don't think I've enjoyed Gamespot's reviews quite as much since they swapped to the 0.5 increment scale.

Avatar image for deactivated-57bfa8d18cfe7

@neotheinstein: I guess I need to be a little more blatant about my sarcasm; I meant that, if you were to go to IGN to read their poorly written/edited garbage, you would immediately find Gamespot to be a superior site (I guess ";D" doesn't quite cut it for a sarcastic remark mark these days). XD

Avatar image for ShaineTheNerd

The demo was incredible. I've been playing since Undisputed 2009, and U3 is by far the best in the series fighting wise. I can't wait to get the full game.

Avatar image for GulliversTravel

I understand GS are trying to move towards a European style marking system, but its coming off as inconsistent and its punishing games that dont deserve it.

Avatar image for Decessus

@dbene I don't think a five star system would be much better than a numbers based system. In my opinion, the problem is trying to place an objective score (of any kind) on an ultimately subjective experience.I like how Kotaku reviews their games. In the main area they have their full review. Then on a side bar they highlight a couple of things they liked about the game and a couple of things they didn't. They still recommend whether you should buy the game or not, but I think that is better than trying to place an objective score on the game.

Avatar image for neotheinstein

<< LINK REMOVED >> everybody has the right to his own opinion.

Avatar image for sleepnsurf

@codymcclain14 Maybe because the game is better in a lot of ways and worse in other aspects. When have you seen reviews of sequels jump 1-3 points? Rarely as they usually drop in score.

Avatar image for codymcclain14

In general, Gamespot's reviews are bad. It seems like they send a COD freak to review Sport's games. Or the other way around, etc".

Avatar image for Ravensmash

Great score! Good review and after playing the demo I feel I'll enjoy this!

Avatar image for gorgonaut

@dbene people can always grow up, too...

Avatar image for gorgonaut

@james_324 The reason the score makes sense is very simple: They have had ALMOST TWO YEARS to tweak and improve on 2010. Improving the game is a minimum requirement for a sequel. Just look at Assassins Creed... - AC = 8.0 - ACII = 9.0 (significant improvements) - AC Brotherhood = 8.5 (limited improvements) - AC Revelations = 8.0 (more limited improvements) - next AC game... = probably 7.5 if they keep up the pace. You can whine and complain about Gamespot not giving games the high rating YOU think they deserve, but don't call them unfair just because you can't take the time to understand them

Avatar image for james_324

@codymcclain14 ---I totally agree. UFC 2010 got an 8.0 rating and he says this game improves on it in every way! Make absolutely NO sense.

Avatar image for codymcclain14

Whoa? Why am I being "bashed" ? lol, all I was saying is that from what the review said, and what the score is, it doesn't add up? The review sounds good. but by the sound of the review, it sounds like more of an 9/10. Never said, 8 was a bad score. But I was saying that Gamespot reviews in general, doesn't make much sense.

Avatar image for sochio

i didnt like the other 2 ufc game but i played the demo of ufc 3 and its incrideble . to much fun , coll graphics , nice control . a great game .ill buyit

Avatar image for dbene

I still think a 5 star system is better than 100 point rating system, because in 100 point systems....people tend to think of it like school grades. Anything below a 70 is horrible....anything below 75 is really questionable. Where a 5.0 should be's just not. with stars everyone knows 3 stars is average.

Avatar image for ChiefOReilly

They have ruined this game, it was so well balanced in 2009, slightly less balanced in 2010 and now they have just ruined the ground game.

Avatar image for peevka2000

The score doesn't match the words in the review. What's up with that?

Avatar image for neotheinstein

@codymcclain14 @xs_paine ign gives almost every game a 9/10 or more. do you think thats really possible?

Avatar image for IWAOlympus

Good review Justin. Thanks for upholding the review scale that 5 = average. Despite having the same score as UFC Undisputed 2010, it seems that improvements to the submission system, career mode, and presentation result in a very fair 8.0. It's an excellent score for a fighting game.

Avatar image for Megamoss1984

Whilst the old submission system wasn't perfect, it certainly provided a sense of tension and struggle that the new system utterly fails to capture, not to mention the fact that it's distracting and gets in the way. A system which takes in to account momentum, stamina, direction of force and position would have been much, much better.

Avatar image for IWAOlympus

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for phv86

is there no way to play with the old submission system to avoid that ugly arcade snake lookalike minigame gamebreaker thats all over the screen

Avatar image for phv86

you idiots the new submission system sucks and the old was great. im ot buying this

Avatar image for Serjinho

must buy anyway !!

Avatar image for johny300

These games come out every year do they improve over there predecessor ?

Avatar image for deactivated-57bfa8d18cfe7

@codymcclain14: Hate Gamespot's reviews? Don't worry, a trip to IGN will fix that in a jiffy. ;D

Avatar image for dizzyrhino

Haven't liked the UFC in general for a while now. But I do like the sound of Pride mode in this.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@codymcclain14 An 8 is not good enough for a virtual sports game that you like so much, *hmm*?

Avatar image for codymcclain14

I hate Gamespot's reviews honestly. They don't make much sense, and it seems like the reviewer is someone that hates the genre. And this is sopost to be better than all the other UFC's, but I'm pretty sure they rated it lower? Anyways, sounds good. Will be picking it up. Excited to get a friend over and fight.

Avatar image for 12inchnails

Nice! I'm getting this for sure :)

Avatar image for inaka_rob

How effed up is the video game world? THQ (who published this game) is going basically going bankrupt, but all their games get good scores. on top of that new original games that improve the genre like Kingdoms of Amalur get lower scores than okay games like this (and COD, and maddan, and etc etc etc) that offer half the game play and are basically are just mild improvements at best. I am not saying anything bad about this game, in fact I kinda want to pick it up... but its like hey! lets get a UFC fan to reviews this game, lets get a nascar racing fan to review this RPG, this get a this guy who works for Actiiviosn to review COD, hey lets get this guy who only plays sports games to review a FPS game. just feels so inconsistent.

UFC Undisputed 3 More Info

  • First Released Feb 14, 2012
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    UFC Undisputed 3 is the third installment in the MMA video game franchise.
    Average Rating320 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate UFC Undisputed 3
    Developed by:
    Published by:
    THQ, Konami
    Action, Wrestling, Fighting
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence