Cobwebs in the Octagon.
We have thrown enough Street Fighter fireballs to knock Earth off its orbit. We can pull Tekken 10-hit combos while falling out of a jet. Virtua Fighter can be played with our feet through a mirror's reflection. Regardless of the insane number of sequels most fighting game franchises have spawned, they manage to continue being successful by sticking with one essential concept: The Promise Of Mastery.
Sadly, this is a trait blatantly absent from UFC: Sudden Impact. Though it adds a few new features to the ailing UFC series, it ain't enough to stop the bleeding.
Sudden Impact's gameplay remains true to the original UFC and UFC: Throwdown; namely, button-tap combo sequences and pressing buttons simultaneously to grab, tackle, or reverse an opponent's hold or strike. Much like the Tekken games, you fight on a rail with the ability to sidestep, though not as smoothly.
The standing combat feels stiff and the 36 fighters have so many moves in common that any button-mashing spasm will churn out something. Even if you did want to learn all the standing moves to have an edge over a blindfolded kid with no thumbs, there isn't much reason to since all the real damage is dealt on the ground.
The ground fighting is certainly the best the game has to offer. Once you set up your foe with standing strikes, you can take it to the mat and flip your opponent on his back or stomach, position yourself to his side while punching and blocking all the way. If you're the poor sap on the bottom, you can even catch one of your opponent's punches to turn the tables.
Unfortunately, things can be over ridiculously quickly thanks to the cheesy, easily executed tapout moves. If they are not deflected within a few seconds by using the correct one of three counter-submissions, the tapout move will bring your life bar from 100% to squat. It's infuriating. They somehow managed to find the fighting game equivalent of a bottomless pit.
Numerous game modes exist, but like my mama always used to say, they're all just the same crap in different bags. Arcade lets you fight continuously through as many guys as you can without losing. If you're over 12 can't get through at least 20 guys by your second time playing this game, hang your head and weep, then just tackle the fool and hit Square. Championship mode makes you go through five guys until you get to a short ending sequence, while Tournament and Training are self-explanatory.
The obligatory Story Mode offers little more incentive. Create a fighter, adjust his height, weight, trunk style, skin tone and tattoos until you make what looks like someone in the UFC already, since those are pretty much all the options you get. You can choose a martial art in which to train and beef up you character's striking speed, power, grappling ability, and endurance. You can also choose from two different training types in order to learn a new move or focus on upping your character's stats. Either type of training can be completed successfully after passing such lame challenges as "Punch the opponent three times" or "Kick the opponent twice." It will take about two hours of play time to get your fighter ready to import into Championship mode, and if you don't pass out from sheer depression, you'll discover that he's weaker than the readily selectable fighters. Strike four!
There are tons of unlockables in Sudden Impact, from new fighting styles to new tattoos and real UFC martial artists. But due to the other more serious problems with the gameplay, they are more patronizing than rewarding.
The graphical improvements between this UFC installment and Throwdown are almost nonexistent. The polygonal models look and maneuver similarly, except this time around their skin, the octagon, and the crowd got a color saturation boost. Sudden Impact does have more blood and battle damage is visible on the fighter's faces at the end of each match, but it's still far from impressive.
The wet slapping sound of a fist traveling across a face is a sound I'll always hold dear, and Sudden Impact sure does deliver in that department. A nice touch is the announcer calling your height and weight in your character's intro sequence, but otherwise, it's pretty standard.
As is UFC: Sudden Impact in general. If you want to play a mindless, masterless fighting game or if you don't want your little brother to use your copy of Soul Calibur 2 as a Frisbee, use this game as a ringer.