Video game review - UFC: Undisputed, as good as MMA gets

There is a lot to learn here and the game rewards time put into learning its intricacies. But the genius of UFC: Undisputed is that it's also fun to play within minutes of picking up the controller. Sure you can work through the game's comprehensive but dull 20 minute tutorial, and you should if you're alone. Having a friend teach you the basics while you fight is almost as effective though, and a whole lot more exciting, and newbies can pick up and enjoy the game almost at once.

The game offers online play, which is one of the biggest draws for many players. The matchmaking is OK, but some players in ranked matches have a habit of disconnecting when they lose, which is lame. Go in looking for a good time and you'll be fine. Competitive players looking to rise up the leader boards of ranked players might be frustrated. I really enjoyed the Career Mode, where you create your own fighter and fight your way up through the UFC roster in your quest to be world champion. Between bouts you have to wisely allocate your training time to strike the balance between improving your skills, cultivating your fans, and making sure you're well-rested for the fight. Some might find this micromanaging annoying, but I had a blast with it. Like most of this game, it rewards the amount of effort and thought you put into it.

UFC: Undisputed is a must have for any UFC/MMA fan who has a PS3 or X-Box 360. If you're not a fan, it's still very much worth checking out, as it stands on its own as a really good fighting game. It lists for $59.99 and you can order it from Amazon or anywhere else that carries video games.

Most of the time I like my fighting games fast, furious, and full of fireballs (like, say, Street Fighter 4). But when it comes to watching fights, I've lost some interest in the artfully choreographed wire work of kung fu flicks. These days I prefer my bloodsport to be less Bloodsport and more Mixed Martial Arts. I've been watching UFC fights since the first, dreadful, ridiculous pay per few events in the 90's. The sport has come a long way for me since then, ruining my interest in boxing, wrestling, and even martial arts movies along the way. While a dull UFC fight can be as yawn inducing as Steven Seagal's latest flick, a great, exciting, balls to the wall UFC is as exciting as exciting gets. In THQ's new video game version of UFC, almost every fight is that exciting.

With its combination of punches, kicks, grappling, and joint locks, MMA is a complicated sport, and I was wary about how the game would be able to capture that kind of diversity, but UFC: Undisputed rises to the challenge, offering a complicated but intuitive game that matches the sport its emulating. Through combinations of button presses and analog stick movements, you can punch and kick with either leg at three different heights and with three different modifiers. When you're in close your fighter throws knees and elbows. You can grapple the neck in a clinch or shoot for the legs for a take down. Once on the ground, button pressing and swings of the right analog stick make your fighter scramble for better position, rain down blows, or try and submit the opponent with a joint lock. All of this wears away at your fighter's stamina, so it's wise to take short breathers and pick your shots rather than just flail away.

So yeah, the game's complicated. Or, if you prefer, it's deep. (Video clip below the jump.)

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