First Impressions: UFC 2009 Undisputed

i-can-totally-beat-up-forrest-griffin-no-seriously2

I hate your face.  Yup, you.  At any given time if I see you walking down the street, rest assured I am fantasizing about defiling your cranium in fantastically diabolical ways.  I would ruin your face with my unrelenting anger.  However, I never do as consequences and repercussions forbid me from doing so.  Thankfully the best possible outlet to vent my hostilities has been bestowed upon my XBOX 360 (also coming to the PS3) and it’s name is UFC 2009: Undisputed.  And, while your face remains safe, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell’s and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s have been wrecked over and over again. 

Follow me into the break for a description of the destruction.

From the publisher and developers of the wildly successful WWE Smackdown vs. Raw series comes a more realistic take on braining another human being.  Yuke’s interactives is tackling arguably the world’s fastest growing sport of Mixed Martial Arts.  This is a challenging feat to say the least.  Anyone can make a boxing game.  Anyone can make a wrestling game.  Anyone can make a fighter.  However, what happens when you need controls and animations that can simultaneously and realistically capture the worlds of kickboxing, grappling, wrestling, and ground battles all at once? 

After an extensive hands on with the UFC demo, thankfully Yuke’s has taken on this monumental task with spectacular results. 

The demo gives you the ability to recreate the recent UFC 97 battle between Liddell and Rua.  While this turned out to be anything but a dream matchup in reality, I understand why this battle was chosen.  In real world marketability, both fighters are fresh in the minds of UFC fans and, therefore, gives us the ability to draw on recent memory to see just how close the digital versions of the brawlers are to their real-life counterparts.  Also, Liddell is arguably the most popular fighter in the sport’s history.  More importantly to the game though, is the fact that these two give you the ability to play two very distinct styles. 

Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell:  Punch your face off artist.

Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell: Punch your face off artist.

Liddell, a kickboxer,  is the perfect fighter in you just want to stand up and throw and go for the KO.  This will hone your skills with the face buttons pretty quickly.  The top two, X and Y in the case of a 360 controller are your punches while A and B are kicks.  Punches and kicks can be aimed high or low with a press of the left trigger.  Strikes can be modified further to adjust for speed and damage.  A quick button press will result in a jab or inside leg kick, but pushing the left analog stick towards your opponent will result in a more powerful, though slower, strike that could floor the other fighter in one shot if it lands flush. 

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.  Choke you til you turn blue artist.

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Choke you til you turn blue artist.

Rua has access to the same stand-up striking as Liddell, as evidenced by his UFC 97 victory, albeit without the same devastating knockout power.  However, best to use the expert Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fighter where he is at his best:  on the ground, looking for a tapout.  First though, you must learn how to get your opponent to the ground.  This is where the clinch and takedowns come into play, which are handled for the most part with the right analog stick.  A quick flick of the stick will result in a clinch (double underhooks for most, like Liddell, or a Muay Tai clinch for Rua and other similar fighters).  Timed right though, the clinch can transition straight into a takedown where Rua can go to work looking for a submission.  Should your takedown attempt fail, you can try a throw by combining the left bumper with the right stick.  The fighter’s discipline will determine what kind of throw he attempts, ranging from bone jarring slams from wrestlers to a judo throw. 

Once on the ground, you’ll fight for superior position.  Most likely you’ll start in your opponent’s guard.  Through clever and well timed use of transitions, handled with Fight Night style right analog rotations you can pass into half guard, side control or full mount, giving you a better chance to ground and pound or wrangle an arm or leg for a tapout.

Submissions are initiated with a click of the right stick and followed up by button mashing your face button of choice, or rotating the right stick.  This can be attempted anytime from an advantaged position.  However, should your opponent have ground control, you will need to time the press just right to initiate the move.

There are counters and defenses for every strike, clinch, takedown and submission that range from stick rotation, to button mashing to right thumb stick counters, so on and so forth. 

Sound daunting?  It is.  However, a game like this should not be easy.  Significant time should be spent with the tutorial as this will be a classic example of hard to learn and harder still to master.  Heading straight into the action is an instant recipe for disaster but one I encourage should you meet me online come the game’s release on May 19th because, as I’ve said before, I hate your face. 

Kudos to Yuke’s for hitting it out of the park graphically, both in terms of realistic looking fighters and great animations.  Transitions are well done and never sloppy.  Can’t wait to get my hands on the career mode, online multiplayer and more than 80 unique real-world UFC stars.

P.S.  your face is dumb

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