With so many types of fighting games on the market, it's sometimes difficult to do something different enough to stand out from the crowd. WWE Smackdown is still a yearly release, along with titles such as Fight Night, Street Fighter and more of the punching and kicking variety constantly being released onto shelves. UFC has had some rough times in terms of videogame releases, with some mediocre efforts available on the previous generation of consoles that failed to innovate or excite; thankfully, the whole thing has gone under a serious re-haul, and to be frank... we're pretty damn excited.
The coolest thing about UFC is the fighting system, because it's been built from scratch to be technical, realistic and also fun. It's one of those games that initially may seem a little bit daunting, and is playable on a casual level, but learning the in's and out's of the control system is going to take some time, and the seriously intense battles are going to come from mastering the game and matching the right strategies to the right fighters. The buttons are simple for the most part; blocking high or low with the right triggers, punching and kicking with the face buttons, and the right analog stick used in combination with your fighters movement to do grapples, take-downs and submission holds. Where the game gets interesting however, is using these skills effectively to try to win the match and either knock out your opponent, or make them submit.
Winning a match in Undisputed is, much like the actual fights, consistently different. You could spend ages jostling for the right submission hold, forcing your opponent to eventually tap out, or they could get a lucky punch in during the first few seconds of the fight, taking you out of the match completely. Cleverly, it's not entirely random though; somebody who is particularly versed in ground based attacks has a better chance of making you submit than a straight fighter, whilst somebody with mad kicking skills has a better probability of landing the money shot when you least suspect it. All these stats are taken into account, and due to the many different fighting styles, you'll need to strategize and plan differently depending on your opponent.
Using the right analog stick at the right moments can greatly alter the course of the match; when used in conjunction with the counter buttons, you can actually catch a punch or kick and turn it into a submission hold, and once you've got your opponent on the ground, it really becomes a choice of what to do next depending on your style of choice. Moving the stick in half circles in particular ways moves your fighter into a different position, and there are several different stages of positioning that you'll need to get through successfully without your opponent countering before you can lock them in for that potentially winning submission move. Alternately, if you really want to, you can just sit on their chest and punch them in the face until they're unconscious. Working out these fighting styles and deciding the best move for the best situation is crucial if you're going to succeed in Undisputed.
UFC 2009 Undisputed has one main thing going for it; knocking someone unconscious feels awesome. The moment where you connect with that defining blow to the head is oh so sweet that it's actually hard to describe, and being able to brutally cause your opponent to bruise and bleed is a beauty all of its own. THQ may have had one of the most successful fighting franchises up its sleeve with the WWE games, but UFC is back and is an entirely different beast, with a technical and exciting fighting system and realistic, visible damage that never fails to impress. The demo is already available for download on the PSN and Xbox Live, so download it and give it a crack before the game hits store shelves in a couple of weeks!