Xbox 360 Review

UFC Undisputed 2010

You wanna be a fighter? Apparently, this is how

A punch in the face is a nasty thing, we'd imagine. So, seeing a real fight where pugilists stand toe-to-toe and pound the snot out of one another is pretty scary. The Ultimate Fighting Championship makes boxing look tame by comparison where bloodsports are concerned, as the only rule is, there are no rules!

Okay, so that's not strictly true. There are some rules, but they're barely relevant when two sweaty, musclebound man mountains are knocking each other's teeth out. Like UFC Undisputed 2009 before it, UFC 2010 is another unrestrained dose of violence that simulates the sport incredibly well. There was room for improvement over its predecessor though, and in that respect, UFC Undisputed 2010 delivers in spades.

UFC 2009's fight mechanics were pretty solid and the controls catered for button-bashers and technical purists alike. As such, these gameplay aspects initially appear as though they remain mostly unchanged, but there are actually more than just a few subtle tweaks and improvements to the physics and animations alone, making for a more fluid and convincing representation of the fast-growing unreservedly gritty sport.

First and foremost, most of the canned animations from the previous game have been completely reanimated or removed and replaced with genuine physics and realistic reactions, so there's nothing to interrupt the ebb and flow of a bout. Even entering a submission manoeuvre is now seamless and no longer punctuated by an animation to initiate the move. As a result, UFC Undisputed 2010 feels a lot more organic than before, helped in no small part by a greater number of moves at your disposal. Four times more than UFC 2009 in fact, which gives you more options when you're stringing together bone-crunching combos.

Playing the game feels nice and intuitive too, so although there's a lengthy tutorial that carefully guides you through every single move and tiny intricacy, you can always bypass it to get straight into the action and still have fun. If or when you decide to ramp up the difficulty however, learning every command and permutation thereof is utterly essential. There are all manner of moves that you can execute both standing and on the ground, and there's a hell of a lot to take in if you want to master the game.

Stances and positions are important, and for the standing aspect of the game there's a new sway system that allows you to bob and weave out of your opponent's reach with quick flicks of the left analogue stick while holding the right bumper. This also gives you the opportunity to come back at your rival with counter-attacks, which if well-timed can give you an opening for a devastating punch or kick that'll rock your opponent, draining the colour from the screen. And of course there's still the possibility of landing a flash knockout strike, ending the fight with a skull-cracking fist to the temple, sending blood and sweat splattering across the canvas.

Clinches have also undergone a revamp, with new positions and submissions to increase the number of fight strategies you can adopt. Still using the right stick, you can lunge into your opponent and give him a hug, before bashing him with some dirty boxing strikes, or you can hold the left trigger and go for his legs, sweeping him off his feet and bringing him to the ground. Once on the ground, you have plenty of options if you're in the dominant position and if your rival's stamina is low, you can finish him off easily with a submission.

While the gameplay has undergone a fairly substantial overhaul, so too have the game's create-a-fighter, online and career modes. Create-a-fighter for starters is a vast improvement over the 2009 iteration, allowing for greater flexibility, far more options and enough sliders and body parts to put together a detailed pugilist or a monstrous freak of a man. You can now assign call names and voices for your custom brawler, so ring announcer Bruce Buffer will bellow out your name at the beginning of a fight, the commentators will use the surname to refer to you in the octagon, and the voice you choose out of the five available will feature in post-fight interviews and segues in career mode, where you can even dole out disrespect (or respect) to your fellow fighters.

And as such, career mode conveys a better sense of involvement and immersion in the world of MMA, starting you off in the amateur fighting divisions where you cut your teeth (and face) before rigorous training and sparring eventually wins you sponsors, earning you a ticket into the UFC big time. Comprised of stat management and sparring to keep your fighter fresh and sprightly, you can apply bonus points before a fight to give you the edge. Make sure you don't overwork him in the gym though, as he'll be groggy and fatigued, making him a sure-fire candidate for a first round knockout. Sometimes, balancing you strength, cardio and speed without over-doing it can become a dull pre-fight grind, but you'll quickly become a dab hand at cycling through the options and assigning the adjustments you need to make before each bout. Neglect this aspect of career and your fighter's attributes will decay, and as he now ages with each season, he'll gradually become increasingly worn out, making the task of preventing the rot from setting in even more difficult.

With an in-depth career, masses of online multiplayer options including the ability to join online fight camps (via a code bundled with new copies of UFC) as well as tournament and title modes to trawl through, there's no shortage of longevity in UFC Undisputed 2010. Factor in more than 100 fighters to choose from too, and there really is no disputing that UFC 2010 is the most comprehensive MMA game out there. Well, it's the only MMA game currently out there, but you know what we mean - UFC Undisputed 2010 is completely definitive, at least until next year.

UFC Undisputed 2010 is undoubtedly an improvement over its predecessor, but ultimately it's still a game for fans of the sport that will have limited appeal for the majority of people who have no understanding of what the Ultimate Fighting Championship is all about. You don't necessarily have to be an avid follower of Mixed Martial Arts to get the most out of UFC 2010 however, but it'll boost your enjoyment of the game if you are and UFC Undisputed 2010 is certainly good enough to make you more than a little curious as to what all the fuss is about. But fight fans beware - this isn't Street Fighter IV or Tekken. This is as real as it gets.

E3 Trailer