What was the dispute in the first place?
I've always wondered what a tag team of UFC fighters would look like, but if it's anything like the partnership between UFC and THQ, it may just be too strong. UFC President Dana White has never minced words over how he feels about Electronic Arts making EA MMA and, perhaps in underhanded retaliation, UFC's parent company Zuffa, LLC purchased Strikeforce in March 2011 from right under EA MMA's legs. Whether this was intentional or not, UFC Undisputed 3 can now go forth unmatched and it has done so with opportune aggression.
The main new feature for this year's installment is the introduction of Pride FC (or re-introduction if you count THQ's Pride FC Fighting Championships for PS2), the long-standing Japanese MMA franchise in Japan, where wince-worthy stomps, knee shots, and soccer kicks all to the head are allowed. Even better, fighter entrances—also new this year—have all the Japanese techno mayhem that we know and love for Pride FC. The rosters for UFC and Pride FC fighters are loosely separated in the game, but fighters from either faction can fight each other in either ruleset, which isn't out of bounds since, yes, Zuffa owns Pride FC too (though it's a ghostly shell of its former self).
To appeal to the hardcore crowd further, options have been added for fairer play. The "competitive" selection removes flash KOs and doctor stoppage to make the game less luck-based, while the "equalized stats" selection, as the name suggests, makes every fighter stat 90. This includes the new footwork stat for speed across the octagon and the stats for the more focused distinction between the top and bottom ground game. This also ensures that players don't feel forced to pick the higher-rated fighters for online play.
Casual fans haven't been left in the dust, either. Transitioning between different positions on the ground can be made much simpler to perform with amateur controls, which only require a flick of the right analog stick up or down for minor and major transitions. They're no match for a veteran who can manage the more flexible pro controls with quarter-circle and three-eighth-circle rotations, but they're far more accessible. The action has been made faster and more fluid as well, relieving some of the deliberate nature of the series in the past.
All players, regardless of their skill level, will appreciate how much the fighting system has been revised to give them more of a fighting chance. Getting rocked in previous installments usually meant a quick end, but now it's much easier to get back into the fray by clinching or catching a ground strike.
Likewise, submission defense has been bolstered by the intuitive ring system that pits both players in the roles of cat and mouse. If the offensive player's bar overlaps the defending player's bar within an octagon ring, the submission becomes closer to success. The length and speed of the bars are determined by each figher's respective submission stat, their stamina, and the ground position.
These changes all contribute to the revamped career mode, which thankfully strays away from the "spinning plates" stat management from last year's career mode and focuses more on the fights. The mode takes a created fighter or an existing fighter through the warm-up World Fighting Alliance, where players will learn the ropes of how to schedule fights, train, and set a game plan, before offering a contract to the UFC.
Every action requires CRED earned by scheduling and winning fights, but it's well worth spending CRED on training, most of which take the form of mini-games: punching a heavy bag, flipping tires, hitting and swaying away from focus mitts, sprawling practice, learning new maneuvers at various gyms, and focused sparring. How much the fighter's stats improve depends on how well the player performs, graded from one to four stars. If I have to offer any advice to the developers, it would be to include a video example of how to play the mini-games properly; the written text can be too vague to comprehend on the first attempt.
Perhaps even more exciting is the ability for players to record the last 50 rounds of gameplay and splice the footage into a
dry hump montage highlight reel, ready to upload on the game's online servers. Not much of the online offerings were shown, though the online pass will be making a comeback this year.
Only ten days after the UFC 143 live pay-per-view, UFC Undisputed 3 takes down the competition on February 14, 2012 for Xbox 360 and PS3.