Ultimate Fighting Championship: Sudden Impact Review

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Publisher: Global Star Software (Take-Two Interactive)
Developer: Opus

Platform: PlayStation 2
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

The Ultimate Fighting Championship began in 1993 as a tribute to mixed martial arts and to answer that burning question of children everywhere: "Who would win in a fight between..." two entirely different types of fighters. While the UFC has yet to figure out if Batman would conquer Superman (a secret FI has already learned but isn't sharing), it has managed to settle some more immediate questions, like "Can anyone beat a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter?" (The answer in the case of Royce Gracie is decidedly no.) UFC: Sudden Impact is a sequel to the PS2 game UFC: Throwdown (that came out in 2002), and features a fighting style that combines elements of both boxing and wrestling.

Carrie Gouskos

In the beginning, players choose from about forty characters, and can unlock sixteen more by winning titles and various other in-game tasks. If you're familiar with UFC, most of the playable characters should be well known to you, including the more famous ones, like Tito Ortiz, and Ken "The World's Most Dangerous Man" Shamrock. Sudden Impact even offers the chance to play as the female Jiu-Jitsu fighter Erica Montoya in the lightweight division. Despite the choice of characters and classes, the characters handle very similarly, which is ironic if you consider the license they're based on. In fact, none of the recently released UFC games have done justice to the innovative nature of the UFC. Instead of offering different fighting approaches, UFC: Sudden Impact offers the bare minimum, despite the UFC's hallmark variety of fighting styles.

The dearth of choices is obvious in both the fighters' movements and the controls. Players begin with the ability to punch and kick, left and right, with the face buttons. All the rest of the move combinations are built up from those four buttons. The three major moves involve holding punch and kick (on the same side, either right or left), which performs a takedown (or variant, depending on which fighter you're using); holding both punches, which either reverses a takedown or a punch; and holding both kicks, which reverses a kick. The controls change, depending on the position of the two players. Much of the gameplay takes place post-takedown. You must change your fighting style whether you're standing, or in one of the many mounted positions, and also depending on whether you're on top or bottom, but the change is not great. While there are still quite a number of combinations to be had from four buttons, a different configuration would have served the gameplay better.

Mash 'Em Fast

Most of the gameplay requires out-button-mashing the opponent with one of three main combinations (most notably a punch and kick, because that helps you get out of submission and causes the opponent to tapout). While these mounted positions (such as the fence mount, side mount, or back mount) are unique to the UFC game, they don't offer much in the way of gameplay since the controls are so simplistic. All of the basic hand-to-hand combat, including the punch/kick combos, do not come into play nearly enough because the entire game is based on who gets the takedown or submission first, and who can inspire the first tapout.

This is fun until about the time your hand begins to hurt, which, depending on the strength of your fighter, is about the fifth match. If you're playing Champion Road, this is coincidentally your title bout, which must be won without any losses, draws or double knockouts. While Champion Road is where you unlock most of the extra characters and features, there are other, slightly different modes. In Tournament Mode, you can set up fights yourself and can allocate CPU or player characters to each person.

Train... and Train... and...

In Story Mode, you create a custom character by picking from pre-rendered faces, trunk and tattoo styles (that must be unlocked). Next, you select a fighting style by picking an academy and walking your character through a three-year training process, before attempting the UFC championship. The training process is as tedious as one would expect in real life, but with half the reward. Many of the challenges aren't worth the time it takes to load them, particularly the beginning ones, like "punch the opponent one time." Thankfully, these challenges are upgraded a bit, and there are special events at the end of the months (and years) of training, which involve either smacking around a punching bag for more skill points or enlisting in a local tournament. New challenges may be unlocked later, depending on some random combination of your completed challenges, but for the most part, the challenges are fairly repetitive throughout the training period. After three years of completing various tasks that might help a real fighter, such as performing certain punch and kick combinations, you can throw your fighter in the UFC ring and see how long he lasts. That is, if you get that far.

The in-game models are a little better than average and at least don't have many of the clipping problems that other wrestling games suffer. Throughout the match, the player will begin to look more and more beat-up, and during the match, particularly strong hits will result in a smattering of blood. But given the violent nature of these fights, the damage to the characters is neither realistic nor cartoonish enough. Instead it's a little bit of both and ends up being unsatisfactory.

Unfortunately, UFC: Sudden Impact doesn't take the license or its own potential very far. This is partially made up for by its low purchase price of $20, which, depending on how big a UFC fan you are, may not be low enough. While there are some very basic, jam-the-buttons-as-fast-as-you-can, fun moments to be had with the game, in general, there are similarly-styled, better games at comparable prices. Great fans of UFC can get this game inexpensively and that is the game's saving grace.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 1, 2004 5:03 PM.

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