This is part one of a special series that will be appearing on FiveOuncesOfPain.com that will preview THQ’s upcoming release of UFC 2009: Undisputed. Part one will feature a recap of a special “First Look” presentation of the game made on Friday night in Las Vegas. Additional installments will include a trailer for the game; screen shots; as well as interviews with those responsible for programming UFC 2009.
Las Vegas, Nevada – Representatives from the Ultimate Fighting Championship and video game-maker THQ unveiled their upcoming game, UFC 2009 Undisputed in front of members of the media on Friday night.
The game will be the latest initiative introduced by the UFC intended to increase the notoriety of the company’s brand while gaining additional acceptance from the mainstream in regards to the sport of mixed martial arts.
Leading executives from both companies were on hand on the 30th floor of the Palms Hotel & Casino as onlookers were given their most extensive look at the game to date.
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Ferttita, UFC President Dana White, UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and season one winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” Forrest Griffin were all on hand while representatives from THQ made their presentation.
White addressed the media, which featured a shockingly small presence from the MMA media community. During his opening statement, he indicated that he was not a big video game player but that he was excited about the new game because “the first one sucked.” The outspoken comment elicited a big response from the crowd.
Members of the media were not permitted to play the game, which is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2009, according to a THQ representative. What we saw was the game trailer, a power point-style presentation, as well as a spirited live demo featuring two developers going head-to-head in the roles of Jackson and Griffin with the two real-life fighters serving as coaches.
The demo served as a preview for the UFC light heavyweight title fight between Jackson and Griffin scheduled for UFC 85 on July 5. Both fighters were extremely animated during the demo, imploring their designated gamers not to let their opponent get the better of them.
Due to a protracted delay, there was limited information available about “Undisputed,” until now. Because of the lack of public details, some skeptics in the world of video gaming had speculated that THQ would go the WWE-route when designing the new UFC game. However, THQ made it clear Friday night that UFC 2009will be a true MMA simulation.
While the reasons for the delay were not addressed specifically, THQ made it a point to state that the game was made completely from scratch. No previous code was used, meaning that THQ did not pool resources from a previous MMA game or a past project that had been scrapped.
Helping out with the programming is Yukes Co. Ltd out of Osaka, Japan. As a novice when it comes to the world of gaming, the name “Yukes” meant very little to me. However, when their involvement was announced to the audience, it garnered an enthusiastic response, almost as if a fighter had just been introduced. Several audience members felt compelled to yell out “Yukes!” after it was mentioned they had a hand in the design.
While it’s hard to say with complete certainty that THQ has accomplished it’s goal of a game that is true to the fighting style of MMA without having had a chance to play it, it looks like the company has backed up its talk by what we were able to see during the presentation and the demo.
UFC 2009 was designed with specific striking and grappling abilities in mind, just the way a Madden NFL game would be programmed. What this means is that it’s just as unlikely we’ll see Houston Alexander pull off a Kimura in this game as it would be for a defensive tackle in Madden to outrun LaDainian Tomlinson. One of the biggest issues I had with UFC Tapout (released in 2001) was that there was almost no differential when it came to specific attributes. For instance, Jens Pulver had the same exact submission ability as Jeremy Horn. The hope is that this will not be the case with “Undisputed.”
Realism in the gameplay was another point that was stressed. One positive thing that I noticed was that the engine adjusts to distance and range. In some fighting games, if a fighter throws a punch inside there’s a tendency to see that punch land past an opponent’s body. However, when a hook was thrown, it landed on the side of the head and not past it. When a low kick was thrown, it landed on the calf and not behind the leg.
Also impressive about the striking aspect of the gameplay was the game’s authenticity. During the clinch, the Thai Plum was not the only way to tie up your opponent. On several occasions, the Jackson character during the live demo used a dirty-boxing style clinch where he tied up the Griffin character’s arms with double over-hooks. At another point during the demo, was delivering punches from a shoulder collar position.
The biggest concern I had going into the demo was the action on the ground. In order to make sure they were able to create realistic game play when a fight went to the mat, THQ stated that it spent a lot of time at Eddie Bravo’s jiu-jitsu school in Los Angeles using him as a model.
From what I could tell, there are many reasons to be excited about the ground aspect of the game, as the action on the mat appeared to be fluid and robust. We saw full guard, half guard, mount, ground and pound, transitions, arm locks, single and double leg takedowns, knees to the body, and submission defense all utilized. During the live demo, Griffin caught Jackson in an armbar from bottom position and Jackson countered by picking up Griffin and slamming him.
Several other ground highlights include Griffin trying to get back on his feet while in bottom position by using his feet to push off Jackson’s hips. During a different exchange, Griffin tried again to get back to his feet with Jackson in his guard. When Griffin elevated a hip, Jackson collared his arm and pushed his back down to the ground.
While there seemed to be an array of defensive options on the ground, the jury is still out when it comes to standup defense. While THQ officials stressed defensive gameplay as priority, it still appeared in the demo that the best defense when it comes to standup was a good offense. Then again, that isn’t all that different than what we see in actual MMA.
THQ boasted of strong support from the UFC in regards to the development of the game. They said they wanted to make a game that was true to the UFC brand. Having a roster of fighters that was up-to-date and accurate was a big key in the design and THQ representatives indicated that they’ve been in constant contact with UFC Vice President of Talent Relations Joe Silva. Over 80 fighters will be available to gamers but THQ did not offer a list of fighters that will be available. The only names confirmed for the game in addition to Jackson and Griffin were Chuck Liddell, B.J. Penn, and Anderson Silva.
While the demo we were shown was on a high-quality HD screen, the definition in the graphics was remarkable. Again, I’m not a gamer, but members of the gaming media seemed to be excited by the fact that 30,000 polygons were used for the creation of the models in the game.
There also appeared to be a strong attention paid to detail. Ancillary characters in the game include announcers (Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan), referees (Mario Yamasaki was seen as a character during the Jackson vs. Griffin demo), ring announcer (Bruce Buffer), ring girl (Arianny Celeste), cornermen (Juanito Ibarra), and even cutmen (Jacob “Stitch” Duran).
The introduction of the cornerman was especially interesting. Following the first round of the Griffin vs. Jackson demo, an animated Ibarra was depicted on-screen as offering sage advice to Jackson. The advice was apparently needed, as Jackson sustained a lot of damage in the first round, suffering a laceration over one eye and a welt under the other. The animated Duran character was seen not only addressing the cut, but using a cold compress to try and decrease the amount of swelling under the eye.
If you’re impressed by the realism of the game in regards to cuts and swelling, you’ll probably also find it impressive that while being on the receiving end of some ground and pound by Jackson, noticeable bruising could be seen to the ribs of the Griffin character.
The attention to detail was so precise that you could even see NSAC signatures on the gloves of the fighters during the Jackson vs. Griffin fight, which ended when Jackson knocked Griffin out at 1:14 of round 2.
While the jury is still out on the gameplay until critics are given a chance to play the game, the presentation was still illuminating in regards of what we can expect from the game as well answering many questions that gamers have about UFC 2009 Undisputed. Some of the details you’re looking for might be available below:
- Scheduled release date of Spring 2009
- Will be available on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3
- Online gameplay will be available through Xbox Live
- Over 80 UFC fighters will be featured in the five major weight classes. Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin, B.J. Penn, Chuck Liddell, and Quinton Jackson all confirmed.
- Models designed in 30,000 polygons
- Fighting styles featured include boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and judo.
- Features include “Create-a-Fighter” and “Career” modes. With the “Create-a-Fighter” mode, you will be able to build a fighter from scratch and go through a training process in order to learn new techniques. In career mode, you will be able to compete for titles and vie for induction into the UFC Hall of Fame. You will also be able to establish friendships with other fighters and foster rivalries. In the career mode, fighters will also be able to learn new techniques through training and improve attributes such as strength and cardio.
Disclaimer: THQ sponsored Sam Caplan’s trip to Las Vegas to view the presentation for UFC 2009: Undisputed. However, this article was not subject to approval or censor in any fashion.