Honestly, I was super-pumped to get an early build of UFC Undisputed 3 as this was one of the big titles I was looking forward to working on this year. As a fan of sports simulation in general, and as a fan of games in the fighting genre, this was a perfect combination. With the vast improvements the developers made to the gameplay this year, the battles in the octagon are even more intense and immersive than previous versions.

When I first got the build of the game, I immediately dove into the octagon with my favorite UFC fighters and went to work on my standup. Admittedly, there was a bit of button-mashing as I explored the ring once again, and the most notable change initially was the dynamic camera angles. After a few wild matches, I relented and went to work in the practice gym. Tutorials can often be long and arguably simplistic, but for this game I recommend running through the full compliment of practice to round out your skills. Getting the hang of combinations of quick strikes, strong strikes and technique strikes was fairly straight forward with the energy setting on “normal”, but the fun started when I switched to “simulation” and went to battle on a more difficult setting. Having to manage the fighter’s stamina adds a level of realism to the ring that was truly appreciated. As the player, you must really rethink the temptation to mindlessly overwhelm your opponent with a flurry of wild strikes when you can gas out pretty quickly. This can affect your decision when choosing a fighter too--Urijah Faber is going to last quite a bit longer in the match than a Bob Sapp.

After about 40 hours of gameplay and practice--yes we drilled techniques just like a real fighter--I found that he most important skills you can learn are both well-timed flicks of the sticks. Utilizing sways in the standup game and blocking your opponent's transitions in the clinch and on the ground are the path to success on the harder difficulties. You'll have moderate success in even the Experienced difficulty without much defense, but you will see the AI swiftly overcome you on the harder difficulties. Become a counter-puncher on your feet with sways and ducks, and follow your opponent's misses with step, strong, or technique strikes. If you choose to take your opponent down (or they take you down), immediately block transitions and move to keep your position and work to improve it.

One of the secrets to our rapid improvement--other than the hours of gameplay--was learning a skill set from one fighter, and their leveled-up techniques in their action list, and then exercising all the positions on Experienced difficulty. After we got comfortable with the flow--it won't be long before you're winning in the first round against even better-rated opponents--we ratcheted up to Expert and challenged ourselves. Playing on Expert even with the best fighter in the game sees many of your attempted transitions in the clinch and on the ground blocked, and the opponent rarely puts themselves in harm's way from the standing position. They almost always look to set up a counter, so we became very defensive standing and had to build the good habit of winning the transition game by blocking theirs and being pretty conservative with ground offense. Playing on Expert was great training an it's OK to get your but kicked once in a while.
We were looking for a good fighting sim, right?

Pre-order your copy of UFC Undisputed Prima Official Game eGuide (a digital web access strategy guide) here. Find the print guide where games are sold.