The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has gained a lot of popularity over the last decade. If you’re unfamiliar with the sport of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), it can be better described as kickboxing mixed with other martial arts such as wrestling and tae-kwon-do. With the fall in popularity of boxing’s heavyweight division, and the WWE aiming its product for younger kids, the UFC has now become the premier form of entertainment involving two men in a ring trying to tear each other apart.
The UFC is now a household name in many countries and has since spawned three video games. UFC Undisputed 3 may very well be the best iteration of them all, as it includes an impressive roster of over 150 fighters from several different weight classes. As an added bonus, Pride FC – the most popular MMA organization in the world until it merged with the UFC in back 2007 – has also been included for the first time.
The fact that this game has over 150 fighters means that UFC Undisputed 3 may have one of the largest rosters ever seen in a fighting video game. WWE ’12 has the largest roster ever assembled in a wrestling game, but that only maxed out at around 75 wrestlers in total. Because of this, there’s bound to be a few recognizable names that even non-UFC fans may have heard of before. The roster includes the likes of Brock Lesnar, Quinton "Rampage” Jackson, Tito Ortiz and tons more. The only famous fighter noticeably missing from this game is Randy Couture; this is to be expected, since he’s in rival game, EA Sports MMA.
Presentation-wise, UFC Undisputed 3 offers an experience like no other sports game out there. Everything is animated and presented to you with immaculate detail. Not only do the actual fighters look realistic but the referee, ring girls and even the trainers look life-like. During the fights, you can see fighters bleed and swell up all in real time. Even UFC President Dana White can be seen in the background when he presents a fighter with a championship belt.
If you’re unfamiliar with the UFC games or MMA in general, there’s a very comprehensive tutorial mode you can participate in where you are guided step-by-step by the UFC’s main commentator, Mike Goldberg. And when I say comprehensive, I mean very comprehensive. If you want to learn all the controls and rules of the game, the entire tutorial takes around one hour for you to complete. This is because there’s more to the sport of MMA than just simply kicking and punching. If you want to become a master UFC fighter, you must learn to take you opponent down to the ground and use submissions, and of course you need to know how to defend yourself.
In terms of gameplay, UFC Undisputed 3 plays a lot like Fight Night Champion, albeit with kicking as well as punching. The pace isn’t lightning-fast, like in a fighting game such as Street Fighter IV, and nor does it have to be, since this is based on a real sport. Unlike both of these titles, UFC Undisputed 3 allows you to fight on the ground. You can tackle your opponent by flicking the right analogue stick forward, and if successful, you can choose to pummel your opponent’s head in or put them into a submission.
The great thing about the gameplay in UFC Undisputed 3 is its unpredictability. Fights can literally end at any time with any well struck punch or kick to your opponent. My brother and I did a series of fights between Brock Lesnar and kickboxing specialist, Mirko Cro Cop. In the first fight, my brother used Mirko’s kicks to knock out Lesnar in the first few seconds of the very first round. In the rematch, I won with Lesnar with a series of deadly punches in the second round. The third and final fight actually went into the third and final round where I ended up winning again with some powerful punches. It’s this level of unpredictability which makes the game and UFC so exciting to play and watch.
I never liked Fear Factor’s Joe Rogan as a commentator as I feel his voice is too loud and obnoxious sometimes. Thankfully, he and Mike Goldberg do a really great job with the commentary in this game. They rarely repeat phrases and they also give players some advice during the fights too. The crowd is loud and vibrant, and will boo and cheer whoever they want. The audio as a whole is professionally done, and is not weak and repetitive like the commentary and crowd in WWE ’12.
As for game modes, the main campaign is Title Mode, where you start from the bottom and battle your way to become the UFC Champion in the weight class you’ve chosen. There’s also a mode called Ultimate Fights, where you can relive some of the more memorable fights from UFC and Pride FC’s history. The only disappointing thing about Ultimate Fights is that only four Pride fights are included in the game disc itself. If you want to play more matches in this mode, you will have to pay extra for DLC packs.
As with every other sports game, there’s also a very accurate and lengthy career mode. It is here you create a complete nobody and try to make them a champion UFC fighter. The career mode in UFC Undisputed 3 plays like Fight Night Champion’s career mode, where you can schedule fights against certain opponents of your choosing. You can also partake in several mini-games such as tyre-lifting to increase your strength and other stats. It’s a very lengthy and rewarding game mode which UFC fans will surely be playing for hours on end.
UFC Undisputed 3 is one of the most professionally presented and polished sports games I have played since NBA 2K11. It’s great that THQ releases UFC games bi-annually instead of annually as the third game in the series includes a ton of new modes and fighters that weren’t featured in UFC Undisputed 2010. Even if you’re not a fan of MMA, you may find something interesting to play in UFC Undisputed 3. Seeing devastating high kick knockouts from the likes of Mirko Cro Cop will definitely put a smile on anyone’s face playing this game.
Lasting Appeal: 8.5