Whatever you prefer to call it - UFC, MMA, Cage Fighting or just plain stupidity - is reportedly the fastest growing sport in the world at present, so it’s little wonder that we are seeing the inevitable cash-in games.
THQ’s officially licensed UFC franchise is in its second, of what I can only presume will be an annual, release. They almost nailed it straight off the bat with UFC 2009, by all means a great game, so all that is required from here on in is to listen to fans and feedback and tweak the game to perfection. But this year THQ doesn’t have a monopoly on the sport, with EA dipping its gargantuan big toe into the waters with its simply entitled ‘EA Sports MMA’, and a somewhat unknown upcoming title from Kung Fu Factory and 505 Games called ‘Supremacy MMA’.
But I’m not here to comment on EA’s effort, although I hope that a situation will develop along the lines of FIFA and PES with these two competing titles, and one doesn’t fade away to nothing. There’s room for them both.
UFC gets a showing on the PSP this year with Undisputed 2010 and I was immediately, and understandably concerned that this was going to be the Readers Digest Condensed version of it’s bigger console siblings. Those concerns here completely unfounded however as not only is this the whole kit and caboodle (with a couple of notable exceptions), but due to the lack of a thumbstick and two shoulder buttons, the game has actually been made much smarter and somewhat more accessible.
Grappling has been assigned to the analogue stick and fighter movement is via the D-Pad which means taunts have been dropped altogether in favour of actual combat – which can only be a good thing, right?
Shifting between the analogue and D-Pad takes a couple of matches to get used to – and if you’re dexterous enough then it’s not too hard to operate them simultaneously using the tip and inner knuckle of your thumb.
High and low stances as well as blocking have been assigned to both of the shoulder buttons, and so have signature moves. The sway system, which is a new feature to the larger console versions this year, has also been cleverly included here using the D-Pad when you are on your guard.
Despite there being a massive roster of over 100 fighters, the depth of the game obviously lies with your custom created fighter in Career Mode. It’s a very time consuming process, what with having to balance training and fighting to improve your stats and keeping yourself popular by taking part in promotional activities to keep the public and your sponsors happy. It requires a decent time investment to take your fighter to the top of the UFC rankings – a gradual process that will seem even longer if you’re using the PSP for a quick blat on the bus, train trip or toilet (come on, don’t deny it).
If it’s quick satisfaction you’re after then the Exhibition matches, Ultimate Fights (taken from real-life historic match-ups) Title Mode, Title Defence and Tournaments will more than appease your bloodlust. You even have the option to toggle off the flashy cut-scenes, intros and outros (is that even a word?) to speed up the time between the all-important action. Yuke’s didn’t have to include this option and it would have still been a great game without it, but they obviously recognised and appreciated the importance of battery life and the portable gaming ethos, so much kudos to them.
But it should be noted that these presentation aspects look pretty damn amazing on the PSP and Bruce Buffer brings that element of authenticity to the pre and post fight proceedings.
The game looks fantastic inside the octagon too. Fighters look great and actually show damage if they’re dealt to well enough (albeit not much more than a reddish smudge here and there). There has to be a sacrifice somewhere however than that lies with the notable lack of a visible referee in the octagon. It’s no big deal though, but does look a bit strange when entangled fighters are pulled apart by an invisible force.
The only let down for me was the in-game audio, specifically the impact sounds. Instead of nice meat-tenderising thuds where you can hear the wind being thumped out of your opponent, we’ve been given girly little bitch-slaps no matter what kind of impact. There’s also no in-match commentary, which could be a game-breaker for some as even the most mundane commentary can add to the experience. That means that during fights, all you can hear is crowd noise and bitch-slapping. Some barbed one-liners from Joe Rogan would have lifted this game to Godly status.
There’s no online multiplayer (would you really bother on the PSP anyway?) but there is ad-hoc play for two people. Essentially there’s very little to whinge about with UFC Undisputed 2010 on the PSP – it’s easier to play than its bigger brothers so provides a nice entry point into the genre, yet experienced MMA gamers will appreciate the depth and being able to take their fighting on the road.