Early thoughts on UFC: Undisputed

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I’m not what you’d call a hardcore fan of the UFC, but I’ve seen enough of it to know who the major players are, how it generally works and how fights can range from long, technical grindfests to flash knockouts within 20 seconds. I have a ton of respect for MMA because it requires its fighters to be in outstanding shape or to train endlessly (and opposed to some of the sloths one can sometimes see in a lower-level boxing match).

I’ve put just a couple of hours into UFC: Undisputed, and I’m hooked. Aside from the visceral rush of catching your opponent (computer-controlled or not) off guard and then raining fists on his forehead for the knockout, I also enjoy how it retains a lot of the basic tenets of good fighting games — the mixture of knowledge, practice and technique needed to become a better fighter.

I’ve found Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to be the most beginner-friendly fighter since he’s the strongest dude in the game and practically has wrecking balls for hands. He’s got one of the more impressive character models in the game, with his trademark “God’s Street Soldier” tattoo adorning his right arm. All of the character models are well done, with the slight exceptions of Brock Lesnar, who looks a little on the small side, and Andrei Arlovski, who looks like an action figure.

The personalities and mannerisms of the fighters are also close to spot-on, with B.J. Penn licking the blood off his hands after a win or Rampage’s slightly insane gaze into the camera during intros as well as his post-win werewolf howl. Forrest Griffin always seems to be bleeding and sweating, and Anderson Silva’s kicks are as lethal as they are in real life.

I’m trying to get my standup game up to par, but there are a ton of moves, holds, guards, throws and other techniques to figure out, so I’m running into a little paralysis by analysis sometimes. You even have to think about transitioning from one position to another, defending punches and submissions, and even getting the ref to initiate a seperation when the match goes to the ground. It’s good stuff all around.

I’m also getting into the career mode, where I build a fighter and have to manage his time among training, matchmaking and publicity work. It’s actually more in-depth than I expected, so I’m not sure how far I’ll get by the time I have to file the review, which should be coming out in the next week or so.

All right, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll be in the virtual Octagon.