UFC Undisputed 2010 PSP Review
To hear UFC president Dana White describe it, Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest-growing sport in the world. And it's hard to be proven wrong when a sport that was only even legal in a couple of states fifteen years ago is now one of the biggest in the country. Several games that attempt to simulate the full range of MMA have been made, and the UFC games from THQ and Yuke's have been, by far, the best efforts made yet.
While the home editions of UFC 2010 weren't the massive hit that THQ was expecting - especially considering the unexpected success of the 2009 edition - it still sold pretty damn well, and this PSP port is a surprisingly complete version that has almost everything you liked about the original games, and even leaves out a couple of the things you didn't.
First: the controls. With only two analog sticks, so many PSP ports wind up with awkward, annoying controls that ruin the whole experience. Luckily for us, though, UFC 2010 doesn't need controls mapped to two analog sticks plus a D-pad. So what we get is the movement controls on the PSP's D-pad, the right analog stick's grappling and defensive functions now on the left analog stick, the face buttons unchanged, and the two triggers serving as double duty to allow you to block and/or use attack modifiers. Overall, it really works nicely, and the only thing I had to get used to was having the left analog stick control the grappling stuff. After a few hours of training up some slick takedowns and postures in the career mode's fight camps, though, it's just second nature now.
Yes, the full career mode is here. While I didn't go line-by-line through every fight camp to see if every move is here, it certainly doesn't feel like anything was left out. The cutscenes, extra activities, training and sparring sessions, and explosive fights are all here. The same goes for Title and Title Defense modes, Ultimate Fights mode (complete with the videos setting everything up and the challenges to complete mid-fight), and the points you can earn to unlock fun, goofy stuff for your fighter.
Really, there are three major areas where UFC 2010 had to be cut down to work on the PSP: the graphics are massively scaled back, the mid-fight commentary is gone, and the online play has been reduced to simple ad-hoc wireless action. The visuals are simply rudimentary, often showing weird colors on the fighters (apparently Brock Lesnar's now a redhead - who knew?) and blurry textures that usually at least look like the real fighters to a fan's eye, but otherwise will just be "fuzzy muscular dude" to everyone else. We get no audio commentary, and if I'm not mistaken, Mike Goldberg is gone entirely, leaving Joe Rogan to do the repetitive weigh-ins, post-fight interviews, and other bits and pieces. And finally, the online play has been almost entirely killed, too, with zero online functionality for roster updates or future UFC event downloads, and online fight camps and any internet-based play are gone. If the bulk of the fun you had with UFC 2010 was in the online play, the only way you're going to be really satisfied with this port is if you've got other people around you can fight over an ad-hoc network.
There are a few minor disappointments, too, like the drastic reduction of physics and ragdoll work. You can still fight against the cage and on the ground, but the physics model in this PSP port is a quick-and-dirty version that really doesn't hold up well when you watch highlight reels. From the occasional head kick coming a full 18 inches short of an opponent's face still causing a massive knockout, to punches that act a little wonky when fighting inside (and sometimes passing right through an opponent's body or head and not actually colliding with it), it's really obvious that the developers had to cut some corners in the physics department to get this game running properly on the PSP. It's never a huge annoyance or something that will make you throw your PSP at a wall, but any fighting game (realistic or otherwise) worth its salt needs to look right in a fight replay. UFC 2010 doesn't always do that.
Finally, the interface can be sluggish, even with quickly-loaded static backgrounds on some screens and the ability to install the game to your memory stick. For that reason, there's an option to disable the extraneous presentation elements like ring announcements and such, but you'll still spend quite a while waiting when adding logos to your custom clothing, picking a fight camp to learn a move from, or loading up a sparring session.
Still, I'm very happy with the number of features and modes that did get stuffed into UFC on PSP. I have spent many hours building great fighters in the career mode, fought for and defended titles several times in Title mode, fiddled around with the extensive tutorials, and said "screw the real-world decision victory challenge" to complete wreck Stephan Bonnar as Jon Jones with a clean, satisfying spinning-elbow knockout in Ultimate Fights mode. The game's a blast just like it was on the home consoles, and while the graphics will make you think you have glaucoma and other parts had to be removed to get everything else to fit, it's an acceptable trade-off to be able to sink in an arm-in guillotine choke on Brock Lesnar when you're waiting for your special ladyfriend at the grocery store.