Michael Kontoudis
08 Jun, 2009

UFC 2009 Undisputed Review

PS3 Review | Visceral, violent and steeped in homoeroticism.
The UFC, or Ultimate Fighting Championship, is a mixed martial arts organization whose major draw is the confluence of various disciplines and fighting styles; from muay thai and kickboxing to traditional wrestling, any individual bout in UFC represents a flurry of violence and machismo; indeed, the whole thing sounds a lot like a real life Street Fighter tournament. The UFC has dramatically risen in popularity over the last decade, which makes THQ’s UFC 2009 Undisputed one of the most anticipated fighting simulators this side of Fight Night Round 4. Does the game live up to the promise of its license or suffer a knockout in the final round?

Undisputed represents the first UFC game since UFC: Sudden Impact in 2004, and makes excellent use of the license, sporting six fighting styles and over eighty combatants. At the very least, developers Yuke’s Osaka have made THQ’s first foray with the license one which rings true at every turn. Aside from the standard tutorial system and exhibition modes, Undisputed features a ‘Career’ mode which sees players creating their own custom fighter. This involves customizing their physical appearance, weight division and fighting styles and will be the mode most players sink their time into. It truly is one of the better career modes in recent memory, taking the player from amateur to champion by way of training, fighting in promotional matches and signing sponsors. Just as interesting is the Classic Fights mode, which tasks you with recreating memorable and infamous bouts from the annals of UFC, such as using the right move at the right time to win. Success in doing so is rewarded by a highlight reel of footage from the actual match, which depending on your enthusiasm for UFC may be a fun treat.

Stop staring at my nipples... Okay, you can stare.

Stop staring at my nipples... Okay, you can stare.

These features and modes, however, would be nothing if the core game mechanics were not so solid. The fighting system in Undisputed is tight and complex and set up in a way reminiscent of Tekken in that each of the four face buttons on the controller represents one of your fighter’s limbs. Simply pressing these buttons results in quick, dazzling strikes, but pushing in a direction with the left analogue stick modifies these attacks into heavy blows capable of knocking out your opponent. The exact nature of each strike is dictated by the distance between the combatants, which means that pressing the kick button while up close will result in a knee to the torso while kicking from a distance extends your fighter’s leg in a long-range kick.

Fights can be taken to the ground by flicking up or down on the right analogue stick (depending on whether the incoming attack is high or low), and wrestling on the floor becomes a game in itself where the reversal of offensive and defensive positions, countering and submissions are key. All the while, your fighter’s stamina drains as you attack and recovers as you guard, leaving him susceptible to knockouts when his level of exhaustion is high. What all this means is that Undisputed is a game of depth and strategy which will be immensely rewarding for those dedicated enough to become familiar with its intricacies. While the system is superficially simple enough to allow a casual player the opportunity to have some fun by mashing the face buttons, wringing out the game’s full potential requires time and patience. What matters is that the collision detection is solid and the inputs generally responsive –most victories in Undisputed feels like hard-won fights earned by the application of sound strategies and keen reflexes. In short, it is the sort of game where if you want to be good, you can become really good. The mechanics are not perfect, however, and to be clear, there are quite a few instances where you will flick the right analogue stick repeatedly in a futile attempt to have your counter register. The window of opportunity for such moves seems quite generous at times, but niggles will arise.

I admit it, your knee is fantastic; you should be a knee-model.

I admit it, your knee is fantastic; you should be a knee-model.

What will draw most non-fans to Undisputed is its attractiveness. From a reasonable distance, each of the fighters appears photo-realistic, with naturalistic animation and finely detailed trails of sweat trickling down their bodies. Every punch and kick is met with convincing recoil animations and deformation, and there’s something uniquely satisfying about sending your opponent’s mouth guard hurtling from his mouth and bouncing across the mat. The framerate is generally smooth and solid and the bells and whistles, including menus and other aspects of presentation, while not spectacular, are hard to fault. It is a slight shame then that the game’s background arenas cannot quite match the splendour of its character models. Everything appears a touch blocky and lacking in detail, but during a fight when all eyes on the fighters, it is not a significant issue. Overall, the visual impact of Undisputed is impressive and the same is true of its sound.

Every punch and kick and body hitting the mat smacks sounds exactly as it should and the commentary by Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan is varied and interesting enough to never outstay its welcome which is a rarity for most licensed simulation titles. The music during bouts and in menus is exactly what one would expect from a UFC title, with heavy, grating rock riffs and triumphant Rocky-inspired anthems the order of the day. Whether the soundtrack is tolerable to you will depend on your appreciation of rock and UFC in general; what’s clear however is that the game’s soundscape is fitting and consistent with the license. This is merely another aspect of Undisputed for which your mileage may vary.

Chuck, get off me! What if my wife comes home?

Chuck, get off me! What if my wife comes home?

The bevy of modes and depth of content in Undisputed makes it a game that if it clicks with you, will sit in your console for quite some time. The career mode is extensive and detailed and the highly-technical bouts will make it an undisputed multiplayer favourite, particularly if your friends are as familiar and adept with the mechanics as you. There is online competitive multiplayer over Playstation Network and Xbox Live, but in our experience the mode was riddled with lag and slowdown which impeded the fights and reduced them to random mashing in no time at all. Further, and even more problematically, there is no consequence for quitting a match, which resulted in quite a few last-minute disconnects immediately prior to a knockout. Ultimately, the online is perfunctory and sloppy and the best fun to be had remains with a good friend by your side.

For fans of UFC, Undisputed is an essential title which showcases one of their favourite fighting tournaments with respect, consideration and accuracy. Likewise, it should represent an appealing proposition for anyone who enjoys technical fighters or wrestling titles. Casuals should be wary that this is not a game whose pleasures are immediate, despite how much fun it is to throw a few punches. Take the time to plumb the game’s depths and perhaps encourage a friend to do so, and you are guaranteed to find the experience rewarding. Undisputed may be something of a niche title, then, but it is well-crafted, authentic and visceral. Get your fight on!
The Score
UFC 2009 Undisputed is the genuine article; authentic, visceral and with enough technical depth to satisfy the most ardent fan.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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4 years ago
I don't think a score of 7.5 does this game justice. I bought this on launch and I haven't been disappointed. It is awesome fun to play, especially with mates and online. way better than Fight Night for the simple fact you can kick and take fights to the ground, so many ways you can kick someones ass.
I do agree with people quiting on you online as you are about to win very annoying however this happens in the minority and I'm sure can be addressed.
4 years ago
A re-post from my entry under the UFC Undisputed 2009 preview...& I too think 7.5 is a bit harsh, but then I'm a UFC fan, which I thought would mean I'd cast an even more critical eye over the game than most casual observers. I'd give it a 9...

If you want a true-to-life fighting game that isn't a caricature of the physics of pain like the WWE games then this is it. If you're not a UFC fan then the ultra-realism of the fight graphics is impressive, as is the unpredicatability factor in outcome - one lucky punch or mistake in a grapple can be it. Fans will be amazed by the realism of actual game play plus the very accurate depiction of fighters. Career mode can be cumbersome, but if you're used to campaign interfaces such as Civilization: Revolution then this should be no problems. Lovin' it!!! =)

Good: Most of the top fighters available; ultra-realistic in-ring actions esp. the finishing blows & knock outs; career mode addictive...

Bad: Venues for fights indistinguishable; fighter appearance customisation in career mode limited; tedious process for customising sponsors on trunks, the omissions of "Big John" McCarthy as a referee & legends like Randy Couture, Pedro Rizzo, Ken & Frank Shamrock, etc. as fighters; Clay Guida left out of the game due to collision detection & jagging issues due to his long locks...

P.S. JB Hi-fi were giving away a free UFC DVD with pre-orders, but check with counter staff when buying as I've been told they have plenty of the DVD's remaining...BTW its UFC Best of 2007 & Episode 1 of The Ultimate Fighter Season 7.
4 years ago
Maxdaddy, as much as I agree with your score of 9 some of your "bad" comments are a little 'uneducated'.
ie, you've listed as bad that Big John McCarthy, Randy Couture and Ken & Frank Shamrock aren't in the game... they are licensed to a different organisation so couldn't possibly be included in this game unless the UFC threw wads of cash at them to buy them out of their current contracts. I hardly see that as a negative on the game.
Having said that, I would love to see some former legends in the next iteration.
PS, Guida should get a hair cut icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
Trust me...when it comes to MMA I'm very educated... =)

From what I know Big John McCarthy is a UFC exclusive, but none of the referees or judges are hired directly by the UFC as to fulfill impartiality requirements of the various U.S. state athletic commissions, so he has every reason to be there alongside the 3 included refs...

I know that Randy Couture, Frank & Ken Shamrock are now contracted to Strikeforce (what's left of the now defunct Elite XC), but at the same token Tito Ortiz vows to no longer fight in the UFC & is still included in the game, & Evan Tanner is dead for cryin' out loud (through his own stupidity...went for a camping trip in the desert & thought he could live off the land) but is still included as well...

THQ also offered Clay Guida to cut his hair because of the aforementioned issues but he refused as his locks are pretty much his "trademark"...

And Arianny still doesnt look anywhere near good enough!!!

If there were any non-UFC fighters I would include it would be Cung Le & Fedor Emelianenko...
4 years ago
i thought Big John McCarthy retired a couple of years ago from refereeing, then went on to start a referee course, then was doing commentary for another mma group.
4 years ago
Yeah...he did retire @ the end of 2007, but as you said, he started up a referee's course called COMMAND (Certification of Officials for Mixed Martial Arts Development) - see www.mmareferee.com. Also check www.bigjohnmccarthy.com.

He does now do commentary work for UFC coverage on The Fight Network in the States & for Afflication MMA, & did return to refereeing for Strikeforce in 2008.

But he will forever be associated as THE referee for the UFC... (well...he was the ONLY referee from UFC 2 to UFC 31!!!) icon_biggrin.gif
4 years ago
The game isn't worth a 7.5, Its an arcade fighter not a sim. No southpaws, Flash KO'ing someone isn't exactly difficult, while subbing someone is near impossible.

One sub from every position. No cage interaction, combos are weak I could go on all day.

Max Daddy, reading a couple of wikipedia articles or googling shit doesn't make you knowledgable.

Ken Shamrock has nothing do with strikeforce, either does Randy Couture is with the UFC just he signed to be with EA during his legal troubles with the UFC and was seen in Red Alert 3, the deal was exclusive hence him not being in the UFC game.

Big John is payed by the Athletic Commission UFC has nothing to do with it. I believe he is only liscensed in California, but has done shows up in Canada recently.

You go on to say that Evan Tanner dies of his own stupidity? He never tried to live off the land he brought food and water with him, his motorbike broke down in the middle of the desert. Something out of his control.
4 years ago
Due...no need to hate. I'm not professing to be the encyclopaedia of MMA, but then I'm an MMA practitoner & avid fan of MMA since the UFC started. Not only a fan of UFC but Strikeforce/Elite XC, Pride & amost every other MMA outfit.

Sorry... but Big John McCarthy posted his own updates after he left UFC on his own website & that of his training academy in California. I guess you expect him to call me everyday with a personal update; well no...I'm just passing on what I know what happended to him post UFC from his own site & blogs.

And Ken & Frank Shamrock did do commentary for Strikeforce/ Elite XC, with Frank being a fighter for them as well. A Frank vs Ken bout has long been touted, & even promoted as "coming soon" by Strikeforce...but it never did happen...

And I DID say that the referees are administered by the various State & Territory Athlectic Commissions, which is necessary for the fights to be officailly sanctioned. So therefore the refs are not directly employed by any of the fight promoters...

And yes...Evan did contribute to his own death. He did bring limited supplies for his desert trip, but according to the final police reports he was woefully underprepared. He was certainly no candidate for Man vs Wild!!!

& Submissions are not near impossible...I can point you to a few FAQ's to show you how...

If you want to have an MMA discussion, we can talk on Sherdog... =)
4 years ago
Look I think there’s only one way to solve this argument, you two are gunna have to fight eachother.
4 years ago
Yeah...Ro-Sham-bone!!! Me first!!!!

Oh crap...I kimura'd myself!!! icon_lol.gif
4 years ago
Sherdog.... no wonder
4 years ago
UFC Undisputed 2009 deserves an 8, not a 7.5. If not for the fact it does so much with so little, then for the fact it's the first GOOD UFC game since the days of the Dreamcast.

I'm not one to leave out criticism, either. The slow navigating of menus got under my skin, UFC 'ranking update' email spam which have to be opened/loaded and closed, before you can delete the damn things. Not to mention the lack of guys walking to the cage with their music blaring etc.

Issues like the lack of southpaw and long hair are simply a matter of time constraints and clippling issues. This is the first serious overhaul of the UFC games in ages, so expect a lot of the bitched about issues to be addressed in the sequel.

As for certain fighters being out of the game, they're going to focus more on the guys who are currently in or have spent a large amount of their recent career with the UFC. Couture signed his exclusivity rights away to EA. The game was in development well before Ortiz had another cry, so he's in the game. Ken and Frank Shamrock have been away from the UFC for a few years now, albeit not including Ken vs Tito.

If we're going to bitch about former UFC guys being missing, let's keep flogging a dead horse: Bas Rutten, Don Frye, Dan Severn, Kevin Randleman, Kazushi Sakuraba.. (UFC Japan 1 counts, if we're going by fanboy arguments) and so on and so on.
4 years ago
would anyone recommend the game? icon_smile.gif thinking of getting it. been told the gameplay isnt up to much? any help
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Australian Release Date:
  21/05/2009 (Released)
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