UFC 2009 Undisputed was a pretty good debut attempt at the MMA world since THQ signed a deal with UFC back in 2007. Sure, the career mode was complicated and not everything seemed to work properly but, when taken online or with an extra controller, it became a lot of fun to play. The problem was that it was way too complicated. Mixing different fighting styles became confusing, the career mode was a pain to work through and some of the techniques didn't seem to work properly. So is the sophomore attempt at the UFC world any better?
The basic fighting styles are all still here. Body blows, knees, kicks, and punches all work in exactly the same way as they did before. The problems with UFC 2009 came in the form of clinching and the submissions. Clinching felt a little static but now it controls a lot like the ground game. You need to place your fighter in a better position than the other to gain an advantage, which is all done with the right stick. Once in the advantageous position you then need to keep that position and pummel your opponent to oblivion. Submissions work in a similar way, with you needing to put your fighter in the best position to pull off an effective hold or to get out of one. Escaping a hold is much more fluid now as, instead of button mashing, you need to rotate the right stick.
There is a tutorial mode for getting used to these moves but, at points, it seems very vague about what needs to be done to complete them. On paper, it seems quite simple but in practise there seems to be a lot more that needs to be done than what is being said. For new players to the series, it is very off-putting and the move list itself in-game is not very helpful either.
Customising a fighting style is much more interesting this time round. Instead of simply selecting a number of styles and having all their moves available to your character, you need to build up your character, one move at a time. Of course, for those who don't want to get so specific with their move list, there are plenty of templates for you to choose from, but if there is a way you like to play that is unique to you, building up your character is extremely rewarding.
The major problem with UFC Undisputed 2010 is that the offline mode is still pretty bad. The main area is the career mode. Granted, it was a lot worse in UFC 2009, but they have still yet to fix some of the problems with it, one of which is being way too stat heavy. If you just want to get into fights then the career mode is not the place to go. Before you can even fight, you get weighed down with page after page of numbers and statistics. I felt like I was the fighter's accountant instead of the fighter. There are some neat little additions like being able to take part in post-fight interviews thanks to a dialogue tree but that's not enough to keep me in the career mode. After a few fights, the amount of training and keeping on top of certain skills became extremely tedious and I couldn't be bothered to continue.
For those who just want to fight, luckily there is an exhibition and a title ladder mode which, when completed, unlocks an option in which you need to defend your title. This is more what I was expecting from the career mode, but with a little bit more of a sim aspect. Unfortunately I was wrong.
Online is where UFC Undisputed 2010 really shines though. Not only is there a great clan "camp" system, which allows you to easily organise fights with friends, but it's just a heck of a lot of fun to play. It's the same with a lot of other fighting games; the challenge of taking on another real person is the draw behind fighting games. This game reaches its peak when it's just you and your friends, sat around with beers and pizza, beating the crap out of each other in a virtual world.
One large thing that annoyed me was that to play online, you either need a one-use code provided in all new games, or shell out some MS Points to unlock it, but the way to do this is misleading. When you boot up the game it asks if you want to download the online DLC. The problem here, though, is that it doesn't let you input your code at this point, so many people might end up buying the online modes despite it being included in the box. This whole "blocking content until paid for thing" really does wind me up as well but I suppose, for pre-owned games at least, it's one of the only ways THQ are going to make a decent profit.
UFC 2010 does look consistently good, well, as good as two sweaty men rolling around on a mat can look. There is a bit of clipping here and there but it isn't noticeable and the framerate holds up pretty well when both of you are trying to beat the other into submission with a flurry of combos. There are also some fancy "UFC Fight Night" effects, similar to those on the pay-per-view shows to add that authenticity coupled with the commentators (which have significantly improved since last year).
As a single player game, UFC Undisputed 2010 is not very good. It's too complicated, drawn out and at points, plain boring, but when taken online, the entertainment really begins. It all depends on what sort of experience you want. If you have a group of friends, online or offline, to play with, it can become a lot of fun. The career mode may be deep enough for people to really get stuck into but, for me and a lot of other players, it's extremely intimidating. It is definitely more a game for those that want to beat the crap out of real people rather than AI fighters.