Finally--after a year-and-a-half absence, the most popular UFC video game franchise returned this week with "UFC Undisputed 3."
"Undisputed 3," available for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, tries to get the franchise back on track after fans soured on the previous game in the series.
Everything has been revamped in "Undisputed 3," from the presentation to the way fighters are controlled. Career Mode benefits most from the redevelopment, with new fight camps as well as an easier understanding of how to prepare for a scheduled fight. It's a fresh approach from "UFC Undisputed 10's" career feature, which was so detailed it was confusing and hard to follow.
Perhaps the biggest change is in the game's graphics and presentation, with many more visuals introduced--from the referees' signature hand motions when they are announced before a match to the cutmen entering the cage between rounds to quickly mend the fighters. The most impressive of the graphics upgrades can be found in the models of each character, which are noticeably better; they are sharp and look almost identical to their real-life counterparts.
A welcome surprise in this edition of "Undisputed" is the addition of Pride Fighting Championships. Pride, a Japanese mixed martial arts organization, began in 1997 and was shut down in 2007, but it featured plenty of fighters that are now part of the UFC. "Undisputed" players can take advantage of the expanded fighter moves that Pride offers, including soccer-style kicks and knees to the head of an opponent on the mat. The game's inclusion of Pride even goes so far as showcasing announcer Lenne Hardt and the Pride Grand Prix tournament.
Overall the game play redevelopment is a huge improvement. It's clear the extended layoff between "Undisputed" games gave THQ a chance to fine-tune the features and take into account the feedback from fans unhappy with "Undisputed 10."
If you've ever thought of entering the Octagon, this is the next best thing.
Ted Gruber is a RedEye special contributor.