UFC Undisputed 2009 an Xbox 360 classic
MARK XAMIN - SLAM! Wrestling
Not since WCW's N64 series of wrestling games way back in 1997 and 1998 have I been so excited for a wrestling related video game. No, UFC Undisputed isn't technically a professional wrestling video game, but it does cater to the same audience. That being said, this is a game you will be playing for years to come, in much the same as as WCW/nWo World Tour for N64, and later WCW/nWo Revenge.
UFC Undisputed is undoubtedly the best fighting game on the Xbox 360 console. It is graphically stunning and it hooks you right from the moment you fire up the game -- a polygonal Dana White appears on your screen reminding you that it takes a special breed to compete in the UFC.
So, let's get into some of the features. The most popular game mode will no doubt be Career Mode. In this mode, you can create your own unique fighter, select your fighting style and techniques, and distribute your attributes (such as Ground Grappling Skill, Stand Up Striking Skill, etc). Then, you can customize your fighter's appearance. This area could stand to offer a few more options, but it does the job. It works similar to the Raw vs Smackdown creation screen, but with much fewer options. Once that's all done, you can also select a nickname for your fighter. This is the name that Bruce Buffer, Mike Goldberg, and Joe Rogan will be calling you. Again, this list is very short -- there are about ten names to choose from.
Then the fun begins.
Once you've created your future UFC legend, you enter the gym. There, Dana White stands in the center of the octagon once again explaining that to be in the UFC, you have to be a special fighter. You are then immediately thrust into a try-out match. It's a fairly easy win. After the match, you get a message from Joe Silva, inviting you to the next Ultimate Fight Night. You then get to choose between two or three opponents. Once you choose your opponent, you have a number of weeks to prepare for the fight. You can train (which will increase your strength, speed, or cardio), you can spar (which will increase your fighting skills), or later in your career, you may be invited to special camps (where you'll be trained by other UFC fighters and learn new techniques), or you may be asked to attend autograph sessions, radio interviews, or photoshoots. For each activity you do, your stamina will decrease. You'll want to give your fighter a week or two of rest before each fight so he is at 100%.
Then it's time to fight. You will see an authentic UFC presentation before each fight, complete with the trademark pre-fight music, tale of the tape, introductions, and all. It plays off very nicely, and you feel like you are fighting at a real UFC event. Once the fight begins, you will have to come up with an answer to your opponents style. For example, Lyoda Machida likes to hang back and wait for you to come at him. You can choose to go in at him at full force, or hang back and make him come to you, even if that means the crowd gets a little restless. Or, you can take him to the mat and try to beat him that way. Either way, each opponent brings something different to the table, and this is critically important because you never fight the same fight over and over again, and that means you won't get bored.
If you string together a few wins, you'll be offered different sponsorships. When you're offered one of these, you can go back and customize your fighter and add your sponsors to your trunks. You will be paid a set number of credits for each sponsor that you wear on your trunks. These credits can then upgrade your equipment.
As you fight your way up the ranks, you will eventually earn yourself a title shot. Should you win the title, the fun is just beginning -- now you have to defend it. What's impressive is, if you string together a whole bunch of wins, Dana White will email you and let you know you're about to break a record for most consecutive wins, or knockouts, or submissions, or whatever the case may be. You can also earn accolades in your fights, like Knockout of the Night, Submission of the Night, or Fight of the Night. Each time you earn one of these, you will earn a trophy which you can view in your trophy case. At the end of your career (it lasts about five years), you may be inducted into the Hall of Fame -- and that will earn you an achievement. But it's no easy feat. After playing through three careers, I've yet to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Another interesting mode is the Classic Fights mode. Here, you can relive classic matches such as Stephan Bonnar vs Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz II, Chuck Liddell vs Rampage Jackson, Georges St-Pierre vs Mat Hughes III, Anderson Silva vs Rich Franklin II, Karo Parisyan vs Diego Sanchez, and others. The object is to finish the fight exactly as it happened in real life -- for example, for Stephan Bonnar vs Forrest Griffin, the object is to win with Forrest by decision. Once you do, you will unlock the video for that fight. Each fight is also introduced with the original hype videos -- so before Bonnar vs Griffin, you'll see both men talking smack before the fight, and the history between the two. It's very cool, albeit quite challenging to recreate each fight as it happened.
Then, of course, you can go online and use any UFC fighter on the roster or your created fighter, and battle other players on Xbox Live. Perhaps it's because the game just came out, but so far it has been extremely laggy on Xbox Live. You can command to throw a high kick and five seconds later it will happen. Hopefully this will get fixed before long, as many of the Xbox achievements for this game are earned online.
So, if you've been looking for the next wrestling game that you'll play for years to come -- perhaps you should look to UFC instead, because this is a keeper. The graphics are terrific, the audio is fantastic and not redundant like Raw vs Smackdown, the career mode is engaging, and once the online kinks get worked out, Xbox Live will no doubt keep you coming back for more.
This is an easy 9/10. With more options to customize your fighter and a bit of added depth, this game could easily be 10/10 -- a very good omen for next year's version of the game.
You probably don't even need to rent this game -- just buy it, it's that good.
Previous SLAM! Wrestling video game reviews
Mark Xamin invites you all to discuss this story at Mywrestlingforum.com. It's definitely the place to be to discuss wrestling. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.