Right on the box is a glimmer of hope when you say the company that made it is Yukes, the same company that made the WWE games. It only gets better as you pop the game and get greeted by a some person who I'm sure is important to the UFC universe....Who tells you how much of a badass you have to be to survive in this game. After all that you get the title screen, so yeah, this game knows how to make a first impression. You're immediately offered to try the tutorial, but being the ultra-gamer that I am I decided to wing it and go straight into career mode.
The character creation screen is rather standard; but passable, you get to choose your weight class, height, skin color, hair, and the like. After this you choose your striking style (Boxing, Kick Boxing, and Muay Thai), and your grapple style (Judo, Wrestling, and Ju-Jitsu). While that might seem like a slim selection, the styles differ enough to add a distinctiveness to each fighting style that makes up for the lack of selection. Though, knowing the large amounts of fighting styles used in UFC, it would have been nice to see other fighting styles as well. After that, you see that important person give an inspirational speech and your thrown into your first match right off the bat.
This is where you'll find out if this game is your cup of tea or not. While each fight will force you to expand your fighting prowess and learn new styles and moves, this is basically the bread and butter of the entire game. You start the match, get it on with a bit of striking, a bit of grappling, and a bit more striking. Being a boxer I tried to throw a fury of fists and lost all my stamina in ten seconds, which was followed by a bit of cranial rearrangement before the match was over.
Luckily I was reassured with a comforting email from that important person who then offered me the chance to pick one of three people to fight (luckily it seems I always get to decide who to fight instead of visa-versa).
While there are numerous amounts of micro-management in the terms of the defense/offense for striking, grappling, submission ect. the matches come down to trying to hurt the person while avoiding the near fatal high kicks and combos that will leave you on the ground in ten seconds if your not careful. You absolutely have to adapt and learn how to block, counter, and time your moves right if you want to win more than a couple of fights in your entire career. The only issue I have is with the various transitions that occur while your on the ground, I found myself having to check back at the move list numerous times to find out how to get out of a certain mount. These transitions are done with a certain movement of the right analog stick and this would work fine if the movements you were supposed to do weren't so long and finicky on how perfect you had to do it. When it comes to me I usually just throw combo after combo, followed with a bit of clinching until I knock the bastard on the floor and throw punches until he goes night-night.
Finishing off with a few side notes, the game looks amazing. Sweat, blood, and various injuries are shown off so realistically that it is actually the first game in a while to make my cringe slightly when I see a two giant gashes across a person's face.The bodies all have realistic muscle structure and anatomy and, unlike other games, the created characters actually are on par with the professional fighters in terms of realism. The punches and kicks feel like they have weight behind them, which helps you understand while a stray elbow can apparently send your fighter into dreamland. The voice acting is also above average, but that isn't surprising since most of the people who voice act in the game are also announcers and T.V. show hosts and as such already know how to make their voice believable and strong.
So how is UFC's report card?
Difficulty = (A) While you will get your ass handed to you in the later matches if you don't know what your doing, the game's learning curve is steady from tip to top and if you actually try to improve as you move on you will be greeted with success.
Graphics = (A) This game is visually stunning, everything from the crowd outside the cage to the pimple on your fighters nose is brought into extreme realism. Though I will warn you that this game is not for the squeamish since all wounds also look incredibly realistic.
Story = (C) It's a sports game, and most sports games seem to think that they don't need a story. You're a fighter who wants to get to the top and your willing to break as many noses as possible to get there, that's your story.
Replay Value = (A) With the multiplayer, custom characters, and various fighting styles, I can see people playing this game for months to come. If you want a game that will give you a run for your money, here it is.
Demographic Reach = (B) Though this game is visually stunning, innovative, and fun, it is a sports title and this automatically puts it into a sort of niche category. The game's complex controls and the amount of attention it requires from you to succeed might steer some players away from it. If you don't enjoy people being the crap out of each other in the most technical fashion possible than you probably will pass this one up.