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     " I do wish they would have added a couple of lower-detail control schemes for casual players, but casual players was obviously not their intended market. "

      Title: UFC Undisputed by THQ

      Format: Xbox 360 MMA Fighter

      Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo

      The Hype: It's been a healthy number of years since the last under-whelming UFC game, and in that time the promotion, and the sport, has grown into an absolute behemoth. But, as any veteran gamer will tell you, there are a lot of good reasons Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has never been well represented in video games. So is all this new money and good will the UFC has earned enough to convert the franchise into a hit? Read on, fellow monkey, and find out.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: It's obvious from the first time that you pick up Undisputed that developer Yuke was focused more on accurately representing the UFC's many notable stars than anything else--though much of that time could have been better spent bumping the level of the raw graphics up instead. While, yes, Forest Griffin and Quinton Jackson and George St. Pierre all look fantastic, there is an awful lot missing that I actually care a lot more about. The models, for example, don't show squat for realistic damage as the fight progress, which I think should have been an important feature, nor do the animations reflect to-be-thrown attacks accurately enough to allow you to counter as effectively as I'd like.
     Still, all that said, the persona depictions are damned impressive...and the one thing that tends to be near flawless is the collision system, and Undisputed may have the least amount of clipping of any fighting game I've seen. 3.5 out of 5

      Playability: As a rule, fighting games fall into two camps: simple games that tend to favor button mashing and complicated games that require serious knowledge of either intricate controls or lengthy combos. Undisputed is definitely the latter, and may go down as the single-most complicated fighting game I've ever played. It uses, in short, every damned button on the controller, and accents them by using the analog sticks as "shift" buttons, which change the effect of the other buttons depending on the direction they're pushed. It is not, in any way, a "pick up and play" game, and button mashers will get absolutely and completely trounced by anyone who has put in the several hours required to really learn how the system works.
     Which is not, it should be noted, necessarily a bad thing. MMA is a complicated sport involving a number of ornate aspects and any game that is really doing it justice should require somewhere around this level of detail. That said, it isn't for everyone, and about half of the monkeys we invited into the offices to play got frustrated and gave up after about an hour.
     So only pick up Undisputed if you're willing to put in the time...but if you are, you'll be rewarded with a game that will let you strategize and fight quite a bit like a real MMA fighter. You can choose to try and neutralize your opponent by exploiting their weakness--taking a striker to the ground or keeping a grappler at a distance. You can work the long game with kicks, the short game with clinches, and both the guard and the mount on the ground. Or, hell, if you want you can relive Griffin vs. Bonnar and just stand toe to toe with the other guy and hope he collapses before you do. But, regardless of how you choose to play, you should have fun with the games intricate nature and responsive controls.
     Assuming you get past the very steep learning curve, of course. 4.5 out of 5

      Story and Drama: So the good news is that the game has a very elaborate story mode that takes you from making a custom rookie through a seven-year run in the octagon. During that time you will go to training camps, spar, develop your skills, and ultimately earn sponsors by kicking ass against the UFC's most notable notables.
     The bad news is that much of that in practice, especially the training camps and sponsor crap, is the fighting game equivalent of farming experience by killing rats in the middle of the forest. It is tedious to the point of being aggravating, and I really wish you could have skipped it. But, sadly, if you want to stat-up your fighter, off to the boxing camp you go so that you can waste your quality gaming time with pointless repetition. 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Though the AI is quite serviceable, and the various difficulty levels keep things entertaining, Undisputed is unquestionably at its best when you take on other players. Unfortunately, it is also one of the more laggy on-line games I've played, and so that means you'll be bringing your buddies into the room with you to do it.
     And that's a real problem, given how elaborate the controls are. It took no time for us to divide our test group into those who "suck" and those who "don't," and those who did didn't want to have anything to do with those who didn't. Which, in case I lost you there, means your friends are only going to want to play against you if they, too, have had enough time behind the stick to get good. Otherwise, once you've mastered the controls, you'll only be playing with yourself. 3.5 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       All in all, Undisputed really is a solid game. The graphics are passable, the controls are frustrating but intricate, and the career mode is fun overall. I do wish they would have added a couple of lower-detail control schemes for casual players, but casual players was obviously not their intended market.

      The Good: Detailed controls give you a real hand in the action.

      The Bad: Controls will be too detailed for many, and the lack of relevant model detail is frustrating.

      The Overall Ugly: MMA fans, give it a shot. But those unfamiliar with the sport or looking for a casual experience should pass.

      What it's Worth: Market

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