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UFC Undisputed 3 Review

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Coulda been a contender

★★★★★

Unlike its more fanciful cousin, the WWE, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has always promoted authentic mixed martial arts combat ahead of the over-the-top theatrics of Vince McMahon’s performance troupe. What’s true in life is true in video games too – except here, the embracing of reality makes for an overly technical brawler that’s largely inaccessible to all but existing devotees.

Even concessions made in the form of ‘Pro’ or ‘Amateur’ controls only apply to grappling manoeuvres called transitions – the former requiring a more complicated shift of the controller’s thumbsticks to initiate, the latter needing a simple push up or down. Despite attempts to deliver flexibility in the general controls, there’s just far too much complexity to capture on a pad; essentially, developer Yuke’s is trying to do too much with too little. For example, the difference between a swift step or a dash toward your opponent is a flick or a flick-and-press of the left stick – far too easy to confuse in the moment, and likely to mess up your movement around the sports’ signature octagon cage. While there are subtleties to the game – minor and major counter strikes, timed defences, submission variables and more – these are likely to be ignored in the furious pummelling of attack buttons.

However, for UFC fanatics, there’s a huge wealth of content to be appreciated. Over 100 fighters are included, each brilliantly recreated in the game with their stats and specialities intact. If you’re feeling more creative, an intricate creation mode lets you generate your own fighter to tackle the numerous modes with. Points earned from successful matches can be spent on additional fighters, movies, nicknames and outfits, though some items need to be unlocked before they can be purchased.

Anyone after a very precise, very methodical fighter will find a lot to like in UFC 3 – but for most people, the game will feel slow and frustrating.