UFC Undisputed 3: Hits and Misses

Posted February 24th, 2012 at 1:45 pm

The UFC as a video game franchise and THQ faced a somewhat do-or-die scenario with the release of UFC Undisputed 3. While the launch of the original back in 2009 turned out to be a huge hit the follow-up was a disappointment both financially and in terms of product quality. The company had to deliver with UFC 3 or its growth potential going forward would be greatly diminished and brand tarnished further. Thankfully, for the most part, UFC Undisputed 3 is an excellent product that has thoroughly justified the decision to spend extra time on developing. Continue on for a run through what UFC 3 got right and where it faltered in this “Hits and Misses” review. 


•Extended Development Cycle Pays Dividends
There was simply no way a yearly release for the UFC series would work – without the crutch of roster updates to fall back on any lack of advancement would be made more obvious on the short cycle. By elongating the benefits became immediately apparent. Gameplay is more balanced, elements of frustration in gameplay and Career have been removed, the feature set is more appealing and authentic, and significant investment was made to improve online performance.

•Pride Mode
Acting as the big addition to the series Pride mode provides a great deal of fun with its authentic presentation and unique set of rules. It also produced an opportunity to essentially beef up the roster with new fighters from the past and earlier versions of others who are still active in the UFC.

•Fun Factor
Generally the most important aspect of a game but often the one overlooked while analyzing everything else like authenticity to the sport – UFC 3 is flat out fun to play. The gameplay balance produces challenging, and in turn, entertaining fights with a wide variety of results. The series needed more accessibility, and while it remains on the tougher side for new players to adapt to, options like the amateur controls help significantly. Making things like the clinch easier to manage plays a big part in that as well. When fun is still had despite losing that is a great sign of things and UFC 3 has proven to deliver that regardless of whatever the results may be.

Again Pride mode adds variety to the presentation with its own entertaining entrances, ring announcements, rule sets, commentary team, and more. Outside of that though menus have been streamlined, Career mode received some worthwhile videos from fighters to coincide with events along the way, and standard UFC fights have received upgrades with better entrances, commentary, and on-screen graphics. The biggest in-fight adjustment comes with a new lower camera angle which works out well. Replays though between rounds and after fights are lacking.

•Sim Options
Though accessibility was a focus, and an important one, UFC also did an admirable job providing options to appease the more hardcore fans. The “sim stamina” is huge in that regard and fights utilizing it play out much more true-to-life than what can turn out to be a slug-fest on default. The advanced controls also offer more options over those who stick with the amateur ones. It’s important that those who put in the time are rewarded by improving their skills and being able to display them in fights and UFC 3 allows for that potential to grow.


•Online Play
Though online has gotten significantly better over recent days it remains a clear weakness of the series. Issues with the servers being down, lag-plagued fights, and a high rate of disconnects remain concerns. Content wise bringing in Pride mode as an option is great but otherwise it’s a thin offering as the Fight Camps feature isn’t widely utilized and has its own share of problems. Losses aren’t always given to quitters, “cherry picking” happens at the fighter select screen due to records being displayed, and there’s little to no reason not to choose the highest rated fighters so variety in match-ups is lacking. It also would’ve made for a positive had the sim stamina had been utilized for ranked fights.

•Submission System
Just because it’s not the “shine” doesn’t make the new cat and mouse style mini-game for submissions a good one. Visually it’s too prominent – completely taking the focus off the actual fighters – and it’s too gimmicky in nature. On the standard stamina it’s also nearly impossible to get a submission or be submitted whether the opponent is the CPU or human controlled. That really has an adverse effect on strategy.

•Extensive DLC
While UFC 3 offers a strong roster there were a number of fighters left off the base roster and reserved instead as pre-order incentives or to offer as downloadable content. $17 for the “Season Pass” of DLC is a bit extreme – though it’s not the outrageous $40+ that fans of the Tiger Woods series have to face every year to get all the content. Really the extra fighters are the only selling point to the DLC as the additional Ultimate Fights and “boosts” hold little widespread appeal.

UFC Undisputed 3 will almost certainly go down as one of the best sports games of 2012. As online improves it becomes a more complete product but as is acts as a very good game that does justice to the sport it represents. The level of content has successfully been expanded, gameplay is fun and strategy within rewarded, and elements of frustration throughout have been removed. UFC 3 is a game that will be satisfying for fight aficionados while providing an admirable level of value even for those who may not consider themselves to be fans of the sport.

  • Gem4

    good review. pretty much how i feel about it. love the game just wish online was better.

  • NoFro904

    Im still not feeling Career Mode.

    I thought one of the coolest features was the Interviews and those seem to be gone.Unless i haven’t seen them.
    Career mode is still pretty dull to me. 

    • mcmax3000

       I like career mode until you get to the title fight, where they ramp up the difficulty significantly, to the point that it just gets frustrating and not very fun to play.

      I haven’t gone back to it in like a week because I was so annoyed trying to win the title.

      • NoFro904

        Yea i just got my ass handed to me by Rashad..
        Haven’t Played since. My Ego is busted. 

      • SENZ

         That singlehandedly made me put the game back in the case and sell it. The absolute cheapness of the AI when you get to a title fight is just really sloppy, bad, developing. I didn’t mind losing in fights before that, because it felt fair and I just got caught/etc. In the title fight, the computer just basically knows what button presses you input and then counters them instantly. It’s cheap, it’s lazy, and it’s enough to kill the entire experience of career mode. I’ll be glad when THQ goes out of business to be honest, can’t happen soon enough, and Yukes has sucked since the start. Hopefully a good developer will get their hands on the liscense next.

      • SENZ

         That singlehandedly made me put the game back in the case and sell it. The absolute cheapness of the AI when you get to a title fight is just really sloppy, bad, developing. I didn’t mind losing in fights before that, because it felt fair and I just got caught/etc. In the title fight, the computer just basically knows what button presses you input and then counters them instantly. It’s cheap, it’s lazy, and it’s enough to kill the entire experience of career mode. I’ll be glad when THQ goes out of business to be honest, can’t happen soon enough, and Yukes has sucked since the start. Hopefully a good developer will get their hands on the liscense next.

        • Interesting. I didn’t really recognize it as being artificially too difficult in title fights but that may be the case.

          • SENZ

             Well I can only speak to Anderson Silva in the MW title fight, but apparently it’s the same with Rashad as well according to the poster below.

            I understand Silva being a hard fight, even losing to him, but it’s clearly obvious when playing him that you have no chance at all to win unless you just get lucky. There is no skill anymore, just hope you get a lucky break and knock him out, because that is the ONLY way you’ll beat him, by flash KO. It’s a shame because UFC 3 is better than 2010, but it’s still hampered by awful design. The career mode is not very good either, I wish you would have mentioned how awful the training games are, or the fact that stat decay IS still in the game, just in a different form. You pick one training, it lowers other stats. It’s bullshit, and it’s all bullshit because they balanced the career mode around multiplayer. They were scared people would take 99 rated career guys online. I HATE it when companies cater to the multiplayer crowd in their single player mode.

            Like I said though, THQ will be out of business soon and hopefully we will finally get a much better UFC game in the future.

          • mcmax3000

            In my case, it was Aldo so you can add another name to the list.

    • I do miss the invterview stuff from the last game.  Overall I enjoyed the career mode, just didn’t like how the game forces you to retire after you win a certain amount.  Why my fighter got retired at age 32, I just don’t get.

      • I had to retire at 29. Kind of crappy.

      • Guest124

        to be fair, a large percentage of fighters dont make 24 fights, let alone 48

  • Inman85

    I honestly love the new submission game. I only play on sim but seriously, I don’t know what the problem is. You either defend/attack or you don’t.

    • SENZ

       The problem with submissions is you’re not even watching the fight anymore, you might as well be playing a quick time event where you just watch icons on the screen. It needs to be implemented without a visual reference ala EA MMA, so you watch and feel whats happening. In UFC 3, the only parts of a submission I see are when I initiate the submissions and once I’ve won the mini game. I don’t see the struggle, I just feel like I’m playing cat and mouse on screen. It’s lame.

      • Guest123

        come up with a way where people who arent hardcore really good gamers, or button spamming arent an issue

        for now, this mini game provides seriously realistic subs in sim mode

        • SENZ

           EA MMA has NOTHING to do with button mashing. I don’t even think you played it. It was the same cat and mouse style thing, only you didn’t see it on screen, you felt it by the vibration of the controller.

          Have no idea where you got button mashing from.

          • Skkd

            I think he meant from 09

      • mcmax3000

         I much prefer the way UFC 3 does it rather than EA MMA. I know it’s not the most realistic looking but I much prefer having visual feedback showing me what I’m doing right or wrong, instead of guessing at it like I had to do with EA MMA.

        I love EA Sports MMA a lot, it’s one of my favourite sports games of this generation, but the choke submissions are one of its negatives as far as I’m concerned.

  • DJ Promy

    I love the game but hate Ultimate Fights mode with a passion. I hate the fact that you have a time limit to complete a silly task like landing a jab 5 times or land 10 strikes from rubber guard. The hell is that? I hope we get a patch to fix some of this stuff. It really takes away the luster off an otherwise great game.

    • mcmax3000

       I agree but at the same time, I kind of understand the reason they did it. It’s likely to try to keep the flow of the match similar to the classic fight that you’re reliving.

      If you just have to complete five jabs at any point in the fight, you’re not really following how the real fight went.

      I’m not saying that the way they did it is great, but I understand the thinking.

  • Guest1232

    sub system beats shine, and beats ea mma’s button tapping contest….as of now, its the best option, and honestly, it takes maybe all of 15 mins focused on subs to learn how to do them on each skill level.

    also on title fights in career, definitely harder, i got destroyed by jon jones like it was on some super difficulty, then fought him again, and was getting owned like no other, couldnt transition, couldnt land a strike without getting countered twice….but….jj took me down, i then caused him to spam a few transitions, he was low on stamina, and i went with a kimura from bottom, and sub’d him. after that, the title defense wasnt nearly as difficult, but to get the ufc title on advanced or higher is a pain

    • SENZ

       It’s not the best option, EA MMA’s is the best option so far, it had nothing to do with button mashing at all, since you clearly never played the game, let me educate you. It was the same style used for UFC Undisputed 3, the cat and mouse style, however, you didn’t see some stupid on screen octagon, you felt it by the vibration of your controller, so you moved your analog stick in circles slowly to find where the other persons controller was, as you got closer to it it would vibrate more, and then you held it there. It was a great system, that UFC 3 ripped off, and then went and made it much worse by making it an on screen indicator, instead of the smarter system of hidden but felt.

      UFC 3’s makes me think the developers were like “well the EA system was awesome, but some people may be too stupid to realize that rumbling means you’re getting close, so lets put some big ass icons on the screen and turn it into a mini game!! SCORE!!!

      • Sharpi

        Did you ever try an armbar, Senz? That was button mashing. Strategic button mashing, but still.

        You are describing a choke. Maybe you just forgot?

      • mcmax3000

         He didn’t say button mashing, he said button tapping, which was the submission system used for Arm & Leg submissions, and so far of all the MMA games I’ve played, that’s the system I think is by far the best.

        I hated the chokes in EA’s game but I thought the Arm/Leg stuff was fantastic.

        • Guest1234

          exactly, difference in tapping and mashing, and thank you. i also hated the chokes.

      • Guest1234

        and some people dont use the controller with “rumble” on…..got some horrible arthritis, go try and use a controller with vibrate**** on…seriously.

        • mcmax3000

          Or on the 360, if your controller battery is getting low, the rumble shuts off.

  • Bill

    Online is horrible. Basically the strategy is to trick the person into fighting your create a fighter that’s rated 100. Back to playing nba 2k12.

    • DUH

      Your damn right back to playing NBA 2k12. UFC 3 is just rehashed trash.

  • Kujayhawks152006

    i play my career mode on advanced.  in my first career as a welterweight i went to the ufc right when i got offered a fight and got owned by a guy who i forget.  but i couldnt do anything.  so i did another career in the featherweight division and kept my guy in the wfa until he was 85 overall.  then i didnt have problems.  my 1 loss was to josh grispi cause i could do anything without him taking me down.  

    but its fun.  i agree the workouts are annoying how itll take off standing strikes when i do the tire flip game lol.  

  • Dylan-clark

    i really don’t understand the beef with the submission system that everyone seems to have. i personally see it as the best improvement of this version. it does take your eyes off the fighter somewhat but not when he actually gets the sub, and it adds an element of skill which is something the old version lacked completely. everyone says it’s impossible to submit but i disagree, it’s just not that likely that if you’re stamina is lower than your opponents and/or you’re subs attribute is not higher than you’re opponent’s then it’s probably not going to work

  • Yousuck

    This game is horrible. How in the hell does it keep getting good reviews!! Jesus for a game with serious dollars behind it, this is arguably the worst game ever made.