UFC Undisputed 2010 Review

   01/06/2010 at 07:43       Joe Bennett       5 COMMENTS. - Score 2/5
 - UFC 2010, THQ, Yukes, Fighting, Sweatstains

When I played UFC 2009 last year, it felt like a precursor to a great game. It had depth, it had a decent roster, it had a move list that would make Virtua Fighter look nervously over its shoulder and it at last felt like a game designed with MMA in mind, rather than based on a wrestling engine and tweaked to fit.

There were a few things that held it back from greatness, such as the loading times (horrific), the laggy online play and the fact that anybody that wasn’t familiar with UFC would look on in horror as their on-screen fighter spun around on the floor on top of another fighter, rather than hit him. ‘How do I hit you?’ ‘How do I kick you?’ ‘Where’s the punch in the bollocks move?’’ These were three real questions that came out of my brother’s mouth as he attempted to play multiplayer with me.

The fourth question I remember was ‘am I even controlling him’, which tickled me. It tickled me because here was a man, over 40 years old, been gaming for 20 years plus, and he literally had no idea whether he was in control of the fighter or not, such was the refusal of the fighter on screen to do anything he wanted him to. It also tickled me because I remember unplugging his controller from FIFA about 15 years previously and played the AI instead, and it took him about two minutes to realise that he wasn’t in control of the players on screen.

Oh brother, how daft thou!

To be fair to him, I’m sure he’s not the first person who’s picked up either UFC 2009 or UFC 2010 and wondered quite what the hell they were supposed to be doing. I would argue that this is a harder game, not just to master, but to actually pick up and play, than Virtua Fighter or BlazBlue or Marvel vs. Capcom or any other hard-as-nails, own-your-arse type of games. Unless you know all about transitions, know when to throw or trip, know when to lock on a submission, or know when (or even how) to counter or reverse an opponents move.

If you’re a regular UFC viewer this should all come much easier. There still might be a few struggles as you learn to feel at one with the controls (face buttons control a limb each, triggers and bumpers modify the move, as does the situation) but knowing what a transition is and what position to be in to perform a particular move is a massive advantage.

For the regular viewer, every loss encountered will just be a lesson learned: ‘Okay. I lost that fight because of the double leg take down I performed caught him in full guard and he reversed it into his Omoplata submission’. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, every loss will be a massive frustration and will most likely garner a response of ‘buggershitfuckwank’. Followed by a controller being thrown in frustration.

Undisputedly frustrating combat

UFC 2010, like its predecessor, can be a really frustrating affair. It has a tutorial, which explains most of the basics, but it’s how those basics knit together that isn’t explained. It doesn’t explain that your created fighter will be next to useless at the start of the career mode, and unable to perform many of the moves you have just learnt in the tutorial. When you go to unlock those moves in the career mode (unlocked by sparring at gyms) it doesn’t tell you what mount to get in, or how to get into that mount, in order to perform that move. If you’ve literally just started playing, taking a man down is hard enough, let alone being able to position yourself into the correct type of mount and then remembering the move, without him blocking it or reversing it. It can take you five to six attempts to unlock some of the moves, and when you can only make one attempt at sparring each week (which has to be carefully planned in along with training and resting, in order to improve your stats in-between bouts), it can take a long time to build up your fighter into somebody that doesn’t fight like a drunken Burberry wearing, kebab smeared ginger pikey.

This is one of UFC’s major failings and something that could so easily have been addressed. It’s unnecessarily hardcore. I understand the need to make it appeal to its target audience, but it’s the type of game that could easily appeal to a casual audience, and they’ve done nothing to entice them in. Better tutorials and making the amateur fights at the start of the career mode more of a lesson in the basics, rather than gruelling matches (I actually lost my first two, on medium difficulty, to flash knock-outs as my opponents repeatedly refused to tap out in later rounds) would help immensely.

But it’s not just here that UFC 2010 fails, and it’s not even its biggest failing. The online mode, a mode, which makes or breaks fighting games these days, is horrendous. Truly horrendous. Connections are dropped repeatedly (and not always by people quitting, as I’ve clearly been on the wrong end of a battering a number of times, and had the connection with my opponent go), bouts suffer from game-breaking lag a majority of the time and even getting to the menu screen can now take three minutes plus (note this is the menu screen at the start of the game, nothing to do with the online multiplayer mode, but the game still checks the servers each time it is loaded), all seemingly because the servers just aren’t up to the job. The situation has got worse over each day I’ve had the game, seemingly because more people are trying to go online. As last years game didn’t improve in that respect with a patch, I’m assuming it will remain the same this year.

Even worse, the online mode is only free to those that purchase the game new. UFC 2010 includes a one-time-only online activation code which, when used, registers that game to your profile. This has been done to restrict sales of pre-owned games, forcing the purchaser of a pre-owned copy to pay for the online content, but it’s implemented terribly.

Nowhere on the box does it state that the game is effectively borked if you purchase a pre-owned copy. Nowhere does it state that there is a ‘one-time’ only online activation code inside. It also places heavy restrictions on the purchaser of a new game. My friend has a fifteen-year-old son, and they share most of the games they buy. He purchased this game not knowing about the online restriction. He found out once he had unwrapped it and immediately tried to return it, but the shop wouldn’t let him because of the code. He tried, and hoped, that it would register it to his machine rather than his profile, and that his son would just have to use it on his console, but it didn’t. He has even tried trading it in, but Gamestation have refused to accept any trade-ins of the title due to the online code. He’s purchased a £40 title that he’s now stuck with, that his son can’t play, and has now vowed never to buy another one in the series again. Aside from the point that the online mode is laggy mess, this business model is unethical.

Buy UFC 2009 – save some money and trade it in afterwards

With that in mind, is there any reason to purchase UFC 2010 over a much cheaper pre-owned copy of UFC 2009? No, not really. Yes UFC 2010 does now have a roster of over 100 fighters, it does now feature a new sway system and it does have some new moves and an increased variety of fighting styles, but it also suffers from the same flaws as UFC 2009 and some new bugs. One of the bugs saw me get stuck in the side of the cage a couple of times, unable to move. On one occasion I had to wait until the opponent did a flash KO, and the other I had to wait until it grabbed me and threw me to the floor. Sometimes fighters just refuse to respond to button presses. Annoyingly I didn’t unlock any achievement points during my time with the game either (I should have unlocked six achievements, I didn’t get any).

Fighting still feels less fluid than, for example, Fight Night; combos are virtually non-existent; fighters take a while to react to button presses. The list goes on. Throughout UFC 2010 played like a game that had been rushed for release and had far too many rough edges still in place – it even has unfinished sentences in the game (and on the back of the box) and typos galore. When a game can’t even be proofread properly, I do wonder how much game testing took place.

I’m going against the grain here. Virtually every other website and magazine has lauded UFC 2010 as a fantastic fighting game, a leader of the genre or, at the very least, incredibly enjoyable. I’m not. If you’re a fan of UFC, if you spent hours with UFC 2009 and craved more fighters, the ability to sway and a splattering of new modes, then UFC 2010 is your game. Buy it now, listen to those other reviewers and enjoy it.

Otherwise I just can’t recommend it. At best, if you haven’t experienced a UFC game yet, willing to overlook a few flaws and have the patience to learn a videogame fighting discipline, pick up a cheap copy of UFC 2009 and lose yourself for a few hours. You’ll enjoy it and you can trade it in again afterwards. If you had issues with UFC 2009 though, they’re unlikely to have been addressed, and some new issues will have surfaced, leaving UFC 2010 as far away from an essential purchase as possible.

What I expected from UFC 2010 wasn’t a massive overhaul. I expected incremental improvements to UFC 2009, but improvements that mattered, such as more fluid combat, less-laggy online play and more explanation for the casual gamer. None of those got addressed and therefore, for me, UFC 2010 is a regression.

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