UFC Undisputed 3 Career Mode Guide
UFC Undisputed 3 is here, and we've got some strategies for you to use in Career Mode to become the king of the heap and stay there for a good, long while. There are quite a few changes to the mode this year, so dig in with me to see how to make the best of your time as a UFC fighter.
New to UFC 3 is the option to create your own fighter or bring a licensed roster fighter into the mode. You might be wondering if there are any real advantages to either one, but the answer is mostly a no. Picking a roster fighter does lock you into a particular starting weight class, but beyond that, all you're taking on is the name and appearance of a fighter; you can re-style Chuck Liddell as a Judo fighter if you really wanted, and have him learn only grappling and clinch moves if you want.
Early on in character creation, you're asked to pick a fighting base form which to start. Everyone gets a base set of moves like punches, leg and body kicks, clinch positions, grappling positions, counters, and a few elementary submissions, but the base you pick adds moves onto that. When browsing between them, you can hit a button to see what those moves actually are. Or you can go with the "MMA" base, which adds no moves at all, but despite what the game might allude to, you don't get to choose them then and there. It actually makes you a "clean slate" type of character, and you'll have to use valuable actions once your career starts to learn the moves you want. If you're just starting out in UFC 3, I wouldn't recommend the MMA base; go with a base that gives you moves you can use in your early fights.
You'll get the option to enable Simulation mode, which drastically increases the amount of stamina both fighters expend to strike, transition, and defend themselves. Note that at first, this mode might feel like it has some kind of increased difficulty, but all fighters have to deal with this issue. If you're comfortable with going to the body and you were good at forcing opponents to gas out in past UFC games' career modes, you might consider enabling this option. If your fight strategies rely on beasting on people with flurries of stamina-draining moves, maybe keep this turned off and let the game's gradually-increasing difficulty sort you out down the line.
The final comment I want to make on this option is that it doesn't adjust the amount of damage either fighter takes, so a few really powerful technique attacks are still going to cause some redness on the paper doll at the top of the screen.
By default, UFC 3 has the Fighter Stats option disabled, and this year, that option controls both the original health/stamina bars along with paper doll-looking representations of both fighters that track damage to specific body parts. If you're a new player, you might think that turning on too many HUD elements can be overwhelming, but it's actually really helpful to understand the cost of throwing all those attacks and how your moves damage and tire out your opponent. To enable this, go into the options menu (even from mid-fight), go to Game Options, and turn on Fighter Stats..
You might have heard that the Amateur controls make transitions much easier for new players, and that's definitely true. Pro controls do allow players to do feints, though, as in you can start a transition to fake out your opponent like you're going to try and advance position, then cancel it and hit him instead. The AI is actually programmed to fall for these fakes, so once you feel like you've got the rest of the game's combat figured out, go ahead and switch to Pro Mode (again, it's in the Options menu, under Grappling Options this time), switch to the practice mode from the main menu, and practice some transitions with Pro Controls. By the end of career mode, you should see a difference in how the AI reacts, and you should be able to use feints once in a while to land big shots.
It might be tempting to jump into Career mode, take the most high-profile fight you possibly can over and over, and just mash the face buttons to destroy dudes. Even if you do this and still also do exceedingly well in your training sessions, you're going to wind up behind on stats. At some point, you'll be called to the UFC and after a couple of wins, you'll be up against legends of the sport like Shogun Rua, Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, and the like, and the well-rounded nature and high stats built into these fighters means your face-smashing strategy will start to fall apart.
There's a solution, though. Slow-play it. Right from the start of career mode, pick fights that give you the least Cred (the in-game currency that lets you buy training partners and such), and stay in the WFA for a while, even if you do win the WFA championship belt for your weight class. As long as you don't choose a "UFC Scouted Fight", you can stay in the little leagues and build your stats. I'd recommend getting at least into the low-to-mid 70s before you make the jump to the UFC.
And speaking of stats, you need to be making sure to check on stat and skills in nearly everything you do. Training activities and sparring affect both the base stats (Strength, Speed, Cardio, Footwork, etc) as well as your fighter skills, so make sure to hit your bumpers and triggers to check everything before you commit to a particular activity. Don't do the same training activities over and over, as the game builds in diminishing returns, and don't train an activity that gives you skills or stats that are already at your current cap; after all, you'll need to be a true mixed martial artist by the end of career mode, and even if you don't intend on striking from the clinch now, you might need a few points invested in a skill like that later on.
Likewise, you can scout the numbers on potential opponents when you're scheduling your next fight; if you're struggling, make sure to pick an opponent that's got low skills in the areas you can readily exploit in mid-fight. If you're having an easy time, it's probably not a big deal, but you can also see just how overall you stand up against an opponent to see if you're falling behind the curve. With all of that said, properly executing a sound strategy against an opponent will win you nearly any fight, no matter what the stat disparity is. Your fighter's stats can lag behind an opponent's by ten, fifteen, or even more, and if you've got an answer for everything he puts together in the cage, you can still win.
In UFC 3, using an action to start a game plan allows you to not only work on your stats before the fight, but if you also execute that game plan during the fight, you'll get a stat increase there as well. There are three goals you're given in a game plan (they apply to both training and fights), and in my opinion, if you can't meet two of them, then it's not really worth doing a game plan over just regular training. Sometimes you'll need to set up an opponent properly to get all three goals met - for example, with the Ground and Pound game plan, you'll might want to damage the opponent significantly, probably in the stand-up game, before you take him down and get the ground TKO. The reason for this is that one of the goals in this game plan is to get the TKO in the initial rocked state using ground and pound, but if the opponent isn't damaged enough to start, he'll recover after being rocked the first time and you'll miss that particular goal.
I haven't gone through every game plan to see which are the most (or least) attainable single goals, but keep it in mind if you decide to use game plans to raise your stats.
Some of the training mini-games in career mode can be confusing at first, and the only way to learn them is by trying them over and over. At some point, I recommend you learn at least a good half of them well enough to get four-star performances on them. Sometimes, learning a few moves at fight camps helps you immensely with these training sessions, as there's so little time to actually do what you need to do in some of them. For example, having your fighter learn the transition from half-guard top directly to mount over at Black House can help you quickly get to a fully dominant position in the Transition or Ground & Pound drills.
By the time you're fighting for the belt, you need to be able to withstand attacks from the clinch, the ground, and on the feet, and be able to successfully attack your opponent on at least two of those fronts. That means skills with the controller, but it also means getting your fighter's stats and skill points up to snuff, too. Pick up a few moves at fight camps to help you escape situations where you're weak, and don't just focus in a couple of tough-guy areas when doing training games. If you ever go online, you'll quickly find out that the best opponents hang back and figure out what situations you're most hesitant to get into, and then quickly put you there to get you out of your comfort zone; the AI isn't quite as effective at this in all cases, but you might be surprised how often you're made uncomfortable by a well-rounded, computer-controlled fighter.