Modern technology. It seems like only a few years ago that I was marveling at Colecovision’s Rocky game, amazed that the characters looked “just like” their movie counterparts, when, if you look at it today, that really wasn’t the case. In fact, that wasn’t the case at all.
But when you fast forward to today’s video games and look at a product like THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2010 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, it is amazing how far technology has come, both visually and gameplay wise.
As a New Yorker, I am still a skeptic though, so when I was told about the IPhone, IPod Touch, and Ipad version of UFC Undisputed 2010 (available today in Apple’s App store), I had my reservations. Then I turned the game on, and was floored by what THQ has done on such a small device. And for only $6.99, no less. Simply put, if you’re a fan of the Undisputed franchise, you’ll love this game, and if you’re new to the series, you will probably be converted.
Containing 25 UFC fighters spread out evenly over the organization’s five weight classes, the game allows you to fight one-off exhibition bouts, engage in a four bout Championship mode, earn achievements, and even post your results and see your rankings on the game’s leaderboards through Facebook and Twitter. It’s impressive stuff for a mobile phone game, but the real winners here are the graphics and the gameplay.
If you were impressed with the fighter graphics in the 360 and PS3 versions, you will feel likewise about the mobile version. Fighters are instantly recognizable and detailed, and animations are solid as well. Soundwise, Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan pop in with pertinent clips during the bout, and when it comes to gameplay sounds, there’s nothing like hearing the thud of a high kick to the head followed by the roar of the crowd.
Of course, to the true gamer, that’s all window dressing, so let’s get down to the gameplay. Everything is controlled by your fingers on the screen, whether its movement left and right (there is no up and down movement across the Octagon), your defense, your kicks and punches, or your takedown attempts. There’s also a special move button that’s used when a fighter’s strength meter is full and he’s in the right position. It’s a lot to deal with in theory, mirroring the complexity of mixed martial arts, but once you run through the detailed in game instructions and get a few bouts under your belt, it becomes second nature.
And while there will always be the temptation to button mash (a necessity when you are forced to tap the screen repeatedly to stuff a takedown attempt), a well-timed takedown, good defense, and some slick groundwork can negate that strategy pretty fast. In other words, to be successful, you have to be smart and tailor your gameplan to your opponent. Fighters like Brock Lesnar or Georges St-Pierre can get you to the mat in spite of your fast trigger fingers, and strikers like Junior Dos Santos can make your life miserable while standing.
So what do you do when the fight hits the mat? Well, just like a real MMA fight, you can control and improve your position, deliver ground strikes to your opponent, or look for a submission. And I bet you’re wondering how you pull that off on an IPhone. THQ has figured it out and it’s a spectacular mechanic that involves timing, a steady hand, and some quick thinking. When attempting to improve your position or escape a bad one, you will see a circle with an option for one position on the left and one on the right. When the circle turns green, you must rotate your finger around the circle in the proper direction until the circle is complete. If your opponent breaks your rhythm or you lose your place around the circle, you’re back where you started from. It keeps things fresh and interesting on the ground as you engage in a chess match with your foe. Submissions are even more fun to try, and after you’ve hit the button to attempt a sub, you are forced to trace your fingers through various shapes that increase in complexity depending on the submission and your position. If you’ve ever played the Star Wars Force Unleashed game, it’s a similar mechanic, and you must do the same thing – within seconds – to escape a submission attempt.
Again, I’ll say it – as far as mobile games go, this is one of the best, and it definitely ranks up there with the best portable games out there, regardless of system. If you’re a UFC fan – casual or hardcore – this is a must buy, especially for only $6.99.