The new game adds two new weight classes and PRIDE rules to the MMA franchise.
THQ backed away from a yearly commitment following the mediocre performance of UFC Undisputed 2010, but the franchise is still alive and kicking and will soon be returning with a third installment. The UFC has announced that UFC Undisputed 3 will hit the PS3 and Xbox 360 in January 2012 with a roster of more than 150 fighters and two new weight classes (Bantamweight and Featherweight), and they’re hoping that fight fans will be more receptive after the extended hiatus. The new game adds fighter entrances and provides players with “traditional and simplified gameplay control options” in an effort to update the series.
Undisputed 3 also includes an all new PRIDE mode that allows players to compete in the defunct (yet fondly remembered) Japanese fighting organization. As you’d expect, it’s about as close as you’re going to get to PRIDE with out a “Best of” DVD collection. The mode features commentary from Bas Rutten and Stephen Quadros and – more significantly – utilizes PRIDE rules including soccer kicks, stomps, and knees to the head of a grounded opponent.
Personally, I’m not quite sure what the UFC hopes to accomplish with the addition of PRIDE rules. It’s a move that’s sure to please old-guard fans, but UFC President Dana White knows that he has to play ball with politicians and stomps are a tougher sell for regulating agencies in North America. Giving players the option to kick their opponents in the head feeds into the stereotype that MMA is a barbaric practice for fans more interested in bloodsport than legitimate competition, and while that’s obviously not true, it does send mixed messages to the people blocking the sanctioning of MMA in New York.
Then again, PRIDE is historically accurate, so my concerns might be unfounded. As any gamer knows, there’s a difference between fantasy and reality and Dana White isn’t going to do anything that might do damage to the sport.
It’s not yet clear if any Strikeforce fighters will be joining the roster – the UFC has adamantly insisted that they’ll honor existing contracts, and I don’t know what kinds of deals are in place with EA – so Undisputed 3 may not be up to date with Zuffa’s latest acquisition. Even so, it’s looking like the most complete MMA game yet and it may prove to be worth the wait.