Not much of a comeback, as much as a beatdown.
With THQ's renewed contract with UFC and UFC grabbing Strikeforce, the main franchise in EA Sports MMA, the UFC Undisputed series is set to dominate the MMA sports genre with the crippling force of a triangle choke. THQ only showcased a 15-minute demonstration of UFC Undisputed 3, but the changes so far clearly show that the developers have been training hard for its return.
[image1]Accessibility has always given the franchise trouble. Even one of my roommates, who often wears a UFC cap and records every episode of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike, can't get into a UFC Undisputed title due to its intricate circular inputs for transitions. Most players tend to be methodical with furious and satisfying stand-up strikes and kicks, and then become a mess of hand seizures in the face of the slow and deliberate groundwork.
This time around, thankfully, an amateur grappling control scheme has now been made an option where the quarter- to three-eighth analog stick movements are replaced with simple up and down flicks for major and minor transitions. The trade-off is less control over the more advanced moves on the floor, like perhaps the rubber guard, but this change is what numerous players need to set even one step into the virtual octagon.
Veterans of the full analog stick controls don't have to worry, though. UFC Undisputed 3 is still at heart a deep technical fighter, even with the amateur control assist and new tips that appear during matches that will tell players about techniques that they aren't using or using enough.
[image2]The submission system has been given a complete overhaul, with the assistance of fans and the test team. Instead of rotating the analog stick furiously, players move about an octagon-shaped diagram on the screen where the defending player attempts to find the attacking player around the shape. The better a fighter's submission skill, the wider the bar they have. It's essentially a mini-game of cat and mouse around an edged circle.
Though no details on the career mode were given – which will be necessary for a fuller preview since last year's career mode had players annoyingly spinning plates of attribute decay – THQ promises more fighters, more weight classes, better character models and lighting, and more customizable options for walk-in entrances. But none of those tweaks holds a lick against the introduction of Pride FC, whose square ring and Japanese rule set allow for brutal knees to the head and foot stomps.
So far, UFC Undisputed 3 easily lives up to the hype. It's slated for January 12, 2012, so check back with Game Revolution when we will have an in-depth preview and hands-on time with the game later this year. At least I'd better, or someone's goin' down.