Several modes have been revamped for this year's UFC release, including the career mode and online matches, and there is also the addition of the PRIDE mode. PRIDE is a particularly welcome addition, as it really changes up how the game is presented and how it plays.
The UFC Undisputed 3 career mode is a solid endeavor once again.
THQ has made several changes to the career mode this year, including the addition of real-world fight camps, additional sponsors and training sessions, plus the removal of stat decay when training your fighter. It seems like most of these are for the best, as users previously seemed annoyed by the micromanaging that took place when really people just wanted to be progressing and fighting.
It's nice that there still is some micromanagement, though, with sponsorship contracts, banner designing and lots of training minigames. I'd say that the minigames still mostly miss the mark, with many of them having unclear instructions or straight up buggy gameplay. A change of scenery would've been nice — like outside workouts — or even coming up with more interesting ways of participating in the events.
The real-world fight camps — like AKA, Sityodtong and Wolfslair MMA Academy — are a cool addition, as you get to interact with the fighters in that camp and use their banner, in addition to having the camp coach in your corner... if you're loyal enough. The fight camps mainly help you level up moves you already have or learn new ones, and they are a good dose of realism for the career mode.
Overall, the progression seems pretty good, with your fighter moving from the World Fight Alliance (WFA) and through PRIDE and the UFC. You can take fights where you want, so you could potentially risk a big break in the UFC before you're ready or keep defending the WFA belt. The career mode recommends a difficulty for you based on an initial test, and it seems like subsequent fights have scaled accordingly.
The online play has been a mixed bag, a lot of bad with some glimpses of good.
So far I can report that the online has quite a few issues which THQ will inevitably have to iron out. I've been able to play in about 30 or so ranked and player matches, and about one-third of them have worked very well, and the rest have had some moderate delay but have still been playable to a certain extent. The community's experience seems to be a bit worse than mine overall, so perhaps I've been lucky up to this point.
The servers have definitely been cutting out here and there, which disabled the ability to play ranked matches as well as access the leaderboards, content sharing and fight camps. THQ has at least put up a text crawl to mention that they are working on the issue, and it seems to have gotten slightly better since the game's release. However, this is unacceptable considering the companies blunder with WWE '12 just a few month's prior.
Most players online have been competitive to play against, but of course whenever you go into the ranked matches you're going to get those who just pick the best fighters and then quit if they aren't winning. It's definitely satisfying when you can have a good string of matches with a fellow player, but the issue of drops not resulting in a loss needs to be fixed ASAP.
The PRIDE mode is well done in Undisputed 3.
PRIDE Fighting Championship
The PRIDE mode really is quite well done in UFC Undisputed 3. From the presentation of the entrances to the text overlays to even announcers Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten, so much of what PRIDE was has been carefully imported into the virtual realm. You even get retro versions of Vanderlei Silva, Rampage Jackson and Chuck Liddell, which is cool as well.
It's really great that the gameplay in PRIDE feels a lot different, too, as the addition of unique strikes — like knees to the head, face stomps and soccer kicks — add a few wrinkles. I should point out that the animations for face stomps and soccer kicks do look a bit weird, with some spotty collision detection here and there, but at least they have been added to the mix. The gameplay in PRIDE, with its asymmetrical round times and unique scoring, also looks a bit more devastating in the ring, where blood is more prominent and all of the action can be seen clearly.
Playing the PRIDE fights on simulation settings has been a lot of fun, as you have to pace yourself even when having a crazy war. Also, even though the commentary does end up having some repeats, just like Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, it's nice to have the enthusiasm of Quadros and Rutten when you KO an opponent in ruthless fashion.
UFC Undisputed 3 might just have an in-road to gamers hearts.
There's certainly lots of content in UFC Undisputed 3, and the addition of PRIDE and the upgrades to the career mode seem promising. Look out for the final review tomorrow to read how it all shakes out!