With EA Sports taking a stab at bringing the world of Mixed Martial Arts to iOS with their game MMA, we knew it’d only be a matter of time before the UFC joined the fray. The UFC is the equivalent of the big leagues for MMA, where the best compete for championship titles and worldwide adulation. THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2010 is the downsized version of it’s console brother of the same name. As Big John McCarthy would say, “Let’s get it on!”
Making a fighting game based on MMA is tough, even on traditional systems with 12 button controllers, because there are so many elements that must be considered to make a faithful representation of the sport. Try reducing the input options down to a touch screen, and things get even more difficult. That being said, UFC Undisputed 2010 has an effective approach to making everything jive.
Ground and pound.
One of the most noticeable concessions that THQ makes on the controls is restricting full freedom of movement within the octagon. Fighting functions on a 2-D plane, so you can only move left and right. This is surprisingly easy to get used to. Strikes are executed by punch and kick icons offset to the right side of the screen. Tapping on the icons fires off simple attacks, while sliding over the icons reels off stronger attacks.
Your stamina meter determines how frequently you can load up for big shots, and special attacks become available once you have a full meter. Defense is simply relegated to blocking attacks but it would have been nice to see parries thrown in somewhere. Flash knockouts are in and they add the unpredictable factor ever-present in every fight. All things considered, the stand-up game feels really good. Most MMA bouts end up on the ground though, and UFC Undisputed stumbles a bit there.
Quick-time events dominates the ground game. For better or worse, you’ll be tapping buttons or drawing shapes to advance positions. Once a submission attempt is clinched in, you have to successfully draw a pattern three consecutive times before the timer expires to earn a tapout. The main problem is that it’s too easy to secure a takedown and finish the fight from a quick submission within 45 seconds. We’ve played dozens of matches, and it’s quite telling that not one of them got past the opening minute of the second round; most matches ended in the first round. This becomes a huge problem because UFC Undisputed 2010 is shockingly bare in features and content.
Listen, Mac. Dodge his punch then counter-punch.
We understand that it’s unrealistic to expect a roster with 70-80 fighters like the console versions, but giving us only 25 fighters (five fighters per weight class) is criminal. With a huge delta like that, you’ll miss exciting fighters like Roy Nelson, Clay Guida, Jon Jones and a ton of other huge names. The game only has an exhibition and short tournament mode that can be completed in minutes, so expect lots of one-off fights and daydreams of fights you can’t make happen. The silver lining is that the fighters that did make the cut look great. Many of them have their own signature ring attire, special moves, and tattoos.
The smooth menus and navigation in the game deserve kudos as well. Game modes are slim, but there is a nice collection of trophies to earn. Also, a sweet interactive poll reflecting upcoming UFC pay-per-view cards is a great value add. It’s a shame it’s only a poll though: It could have been a persistent metagame keeping track of your predictions over time.
While it’s not perfect, UFC Undisputed 2010 is a good first attempt from the guys at THQ. They’ve managed to create a gameplay system that simplifies the fighting while keeping the fun. Next year’s version will need to pack on more fighters and substantive modes to take that next step towards greatness.