Review: UFC Undisputed 3 (Xbox 360)
When you start up UFC Undisputed 3 the first image you’ll see is that of Middleweight champion Anderson Silva kicking Vitor Belfort in the face, a moment which will grace UFC highlight reels until the end of time. If that image doesn’t get UFC fans excited to play this game I don’t know what will. IT’S TIME!
I’ll begin with a (not so short) story about my experience with the career mode which will hopefully provide a good idea as to what the mode has to offer and, more importantly, give a taster of how exciting it can be.
I created a Bantamweight fighter named Max “Machine Gun” Maximus with a Karate base. Fighting out of Leeds, England, he is a long way from his hometown of Sydney, Australia.
With my record at 5-0 in the World Fighting Alliance I had a big decision to make. I had the attention of the UFC after my previous win, which was watched by one of their scouts, and this gave me an opportunity to appear on their next Fight Night card. However, I was also given an opportunity to fight for the WFA Bantamweight title and that’s what I did. I won the belt with a brutal knee to the head while in the clinch; a move which I had just learned while training at the Black House gym.
I was presented with another chance to appear on a Fight Night card for the UFC but I knew I wasn’t ready for that level of competition so I instead began my WFA Bantamweight title defence. I finished the year with an 8-0 record and a brutal flying knee earned me “KO of the Year” and a nice credit bonus.
At 13-0 I felt ready to test my skills in the UFC and took a Bantamweight fight on the Main Card of UFN 34.
After an impressive run of good victories, which extended my record to 25-0, I had done enough to be considered a legitimate title contender. I fought for the UFC Bantamweight title against Miguel Torres and was duly schooled in the art of submission. My unbeaten run had come to an end.
I redeemed myself by ground and pounding Brad Pickett for the second time in my career. I was then offered a tune-up fight which is supposedly an easier fight than the alternatives, although “there’s no easy fights in the UFC” is often true, but I instead took the opportunity to fight in Pride, at Lightweight as they don’t have a Bantamweight division. This was no easy decision as the man standing opposite would be none other than the fearsome Jose Aldo. I was terrified and the start I made to the fight did nothing to alleviate my fears. I attempted to hit Aldo with his trademark flying knee, a move which proved successful for me in the past, and I rushed right at him and leapt into the air. I missed. He then hit me with a left-hook followed by a left-hook, right-straight, and left body-punch combo. I backed off to avoid further punishment. He then blocked my attempt at a left head-kick and immediately hit me with one of his own. I was in big trouble and Jack Burton was nowhere to be seen. I then caught him with my second attempt at a flying knee and followed it with a left and right hook. Aldo backed up. He wasn’t invincible after all. I landed a right head-kick and a couple of right hooks and with a rush of blood to my head I went in for the takedown, succeeded, and put him on his back. Then, in an instant, Aldo had me in a kimura. I held on for 15 long seconds and escaped the submission attempt. We were back on our feet and after an exchange of punches Aldo threw a kick. I caught it and put him on his back once more. His ground defence is really good so it took 30 seconds for me to pass his guard and find myself in full mount. I was worried his superior ground game would result in me being reversed and having to defend another submission attempt so I began smashing him with everything I had. As it turns out one of the things I had was a hammer fist which landed on his jaw and knocked him out cold. I was ecstatic, relieved, and exhausted all at once. Brilliant.
I entered a Pride Lightweight tournament and after defeating Mike Brown I found myself up against Aldo once more. I was concerned, despite my victory in our previous encounter, but I needn’t have worried as I found myself dominating him and booking myself in the final against Brian Bowles, someone I’d previously beaten. I took out Bowles to be crowned Pride’s Lightweight Grand Prix champion and then ran through Demetrious Johnson in 54 seconds to earn myself another shot at Torres’ UFC belt. Another submission. Another failed attempt. This time, however, I took the fight into the fourth minute of the third round before he bested me on the ground and made me tap.
I was determined to win that Bantamweight belt and after three victories I had another chance but Torres had been dethroned and this time I’d be facing Dominick Cruz. After two close rounds, in which I did a lot of back-peddling to avoid his numerous attacks, I rushed forward with a flying knee. My frustration at missing out on the belt in my two previous attempts vanished in an instant as my knee connected with the jaw of Cruz. He was out cold before his body hit the mat. I was the new Bantamweight champion.
I then jumped back and forth between the UFC Bantamweight and Featherweight divisions. Along the way I defended my Bantamweight title on three occasions and defeated Jose Aldo for the third time in Pride. It was all building to one moment – an attempt to simultaneously hold both the Bantamweight and Featherweight belts. In order to do that I had to take Chad Mendes’ belt. Mendes made no attempt to take the fight to the ground and I dominated him on the feet and with 10 seconds remaining in the first round I knocked him out. I defended my Featherweight title only once before I was informed that the following fight would be my last. I was to retire. I decided to end my career with one last Lightweight fight in Pride against Jens Pulver. I landed a “Steven Seagal” front kick to Pulver’s face for the KO and retired with a record of 46 wins and 2 losses.
This heart-warming tale – of a young Australian with a dream, to be a successful professional fighter, who moved half-way around the world to Leeds in search of that dream, and who finally stamped his name into the UFC Hall of Fame – brings me on to the first of my problems with the game. My fighter was forced to retire. There was no Rocky-style struggle as my fighter, by choosing to fight into his thirties or early forties, had to face the realities of an ageing body. I hoped for a poetic ending to my fighter’s career. His attributes could have gradually decreased, training could have been an uphill struggle with points harder to come by, his reactions could have slowed and resulted in him taking more damage in fights, and with accumulated defeats he could have walked away from the sport a shell of his former self.
One great thing about my fighter’s career was that when I joined Greg Jackson’s camp I got to see his cheeky face before, during, and after my fights. That was my reason for choosing Jackson MMA over the others, the visual familiarity of the coach, but I quickly wished I had the option to leave and join another camp. Before joining the UFC proper I was able to jump between camps and access a wide variety of moves. Two of my favourite moves, flying knee and spinning head kick, were learned at Black House. I should have stayed there to level up those moves and learn some more.
You have the option of playing through Career Mode with one of the established fighters. This could have been an interesting mode had it been noticeably different from playing Career Mode with a created fighter but it’s a disappointment. Your fighter begins with greatly reduced attributes and a limited move-set, both of which are understandable, but he also begins in the WFA regardless of where he actually started his career. In other words, you play through Career Mode with a familiar looking fighter but you certainly don’t play through that fighter’s career – which is surely the only attraction.
Ultimate Fights Mode has you controlling a fighter in one of the many important fights in the history of UFC and Pride. The mode is sold to us with a promise of being able to re-enact or overturn battles but it’s little more than a regular Exhibition match filled with prompts to hit the opponent a certain number of times, control them on the ground, etc.
Tournament Mode is brilliant and outside of Career it is easily my favourite mode in the game. It feels unnatural to take part in a UFC tournament and I much prefer the Pride experience. Playing with Default Competition and Simulation Energy settings makes the tournament really exciting as you carry cuts, bruises, and other injuries into subsequent rounds – which is something Career Mode should have had.
Visuals have been slightly improved, in what was already a good looking series, with the addition of fighter entrances and more slicker animation in movement and striking. Audio has also been improved, especially with wonderful Pride commentary from Bas “El Guapo” Rutten and Stephen “The Fight Professor” Quadros. It’s a shame we can’t hear many of the fighter’s genuine entrance music and have to settle for weaker alternatives. One track which isn’t included, for example, is Dan Hardy’s “England Belongs To Me” which, despite me being Scottish, is a brilliant adrenaline pumping tune.
There are many short but interesting videos to unlock, with fighters describing pivotal moments in their careers, and these can be replayed at any time. Points earned in various modes can be used in the Shop to purchase new clothes, entrances, and taunts for created fighters. The new submission system has the attacker chasing the defender round an on-screen circle and the defender trying to avoid them until the timer expires. This works pretty well and I find it more enjoyable than the previous system. New THQ servers means that online play is (or at least should be) more stable but the game still hasn’t moved into an online version of Career Mode with, for example, proper training matches with team-mates and the excitement of everyone climbing the ladder and possibly fighting for the belt in a particular division, and that’s a shame.
Despite a few niggling issues UFC Undisputed 3, with the inclusion of Pride and an improved Career Mode, is the best MMA game to date and a must-have title for any fan of the sport.