Shoe-horning a version of this year’s UFC onto the PSP was never going to be easy, and UFC Undisputed 2010 uses every single bit of memory and every button the PSP possesses – and somehow does a sterling job of emulating the rather good PS3 & 360 version we reviewed here >here< and gave a creditable 8/10.
If you’re looking for a casual beat ‘em up then stop reading now, because this is a hardcore fighting game that will require repeated visits to the tutorials. These tutorials leave nothing out, and whilst you can get by with some of the basics, knowing the lot is certainly going to be beneficial in many of the situations that you’ll find yourself in. For those that don’t know, there are various fighting positions in MMA; on your feet and down on the ground, and often in a painful tangle of limbs.
There are over 100 real-life UFC fighters in the game, and they realistically mimic their real counterpart’s styles. Some are good punchers or kickers, others are submission experts who find it easy to bend an opponent’s limbs the wrong way in order to get the tap out and others specialise in throws that can get them out of all sorts of trouble. The rapid turnover of fighters in the UFC and contract problems with fighters signed to EA’s game mean there are some odd discrepancies though. For example, Andrei Arlovski is in, despite having been fighting with UFC rivals Affliction and Strikeforce for several years. Other fighters who’ve been dropped more recently are still in the game, but most people will be glad to still see Dan Henderson, Mark Coleman and Kimbo Slice present, even if it is just so they can punch out Kimbo—Randy Couture is missing because he signed with EA.
Yukes have been rather generous in the ratings system for most of the fighters this time, meaning there are always some unlikely wins (and losses) on the cards. Once a fight (sorry, I mean “Match”) starts I found that moving the fighter with the D-Pad and throwing kicks and punches with the nub stick while using the modifier button to make the fighter crouch is simple and instinctive. Grappling transitions, takedown attempts, defence, mashing your opponent against the cage walls, submissions and submission escapes are all easily performed and yet will take hours to master, and like the 360 version it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to pull off the one you want without a lot of practice. I repeat; practice is absolutely necessary if you want to really master the game; it’s probably one of the deepest and most complex fighting games ever.
The career mode could last you for ages if you’re made of stern enough stuff. Once you’ve created a fighter with the excellent fighter editor (that will even allow you to make some pretty decent representations of some famous fighters that may be missing from the roster) then you start your MMA career. The object is to fight your way up through the minor leagues to become a big time fighter with a lucrative UFC contract.
As far as visuals go, UFC Undisputed 2010 looks superb on the PSP, with detailed fighters and smooth and varied animations, even if some of the KOs look a bit wooden. The sound is less impressive with muffled crowd noises and a total lack of the manic commentary that made the 360/PS3 game so atmospheric. This game isn’t perfect and I experienced a couple of AI glitches and suchlike, but none are game breakers. We only managed to get one fight going in the ad-hoc mode and the scumbag disconnected just as I was about to win (honest) — but the fighting seemed to work well and I at least didn’t detect any great lag problems. The game also allows you to set up a bracket multiplayer tournament for you and your mates if you wish.
It’s certainly a noticeable improvement over last year’s game in many ways, but in a couple of areas (career mode menus and the tutorial presentation especially) the game needed polish. While it offers room for improvement for next year, this is without doubt a cracking PSP version, and is highly recommended to fans of the UFC or anyone who wants an extremely realistic representation of one of the most brutal yet skilful sports on the planet, even if it’s a slightly flawed one from a gaming point of view. Playing a game this intense on the bus or train might not be recommended though...