I spanned some time with the UFC 2010 demo on Xbox360, spending about about three hours delivering beatings. The short version of this very short review is that I am hopeful that the price of the 2009 game will go down when this comes out as I see virtually no reason to get 2010 before thoroughly playing through 2009.
Awesome but stodgy. The model’s skins, the blood, the sweat, the damage– it’s all beautifully rendered. However, the animations and especially how the fighters react to hits is very strange and remind me more of rock’em sock’em robots than a real life UFC match. I guess the best word to describe the fighting physics as they relate to the models is: contrived. Nothing looks natural, these are beautifully skinned robots fighting.
Slow, Methodical, technical. The fighting engine is much slower than most, if not all, fighting games out there: there’s no other word for it, but it’s quite a change from Virtua Fighter 5 and especially the lightning fast 2D fighters I’m used to. Positioning is key to get the opportunity for big hits– and when you do there is always a chance that one left hook will be the end of the fight. I spent most of the time played striking and kicking, but found the ground game very engaging though it probably has the biggest learning curve.
However, the game, at least against the AI in the demo, is extremely easy, on anything but the EXPERT setting (which I certainly am not). I was able to beat all the other fighters on the second highest AI setting using the following: Takedown from medium distance, move to side mount, punch face until opponent escaped, repeat. After the opponent is semi-bloodied (end of round 1 or beginning of round 2, start punching when both are standing up and you will get a KO rather quickly. That was every match. Very little deviation was required unless the opponent got a reversal or moved in too close before the takedown. Expert AI counters and combos a lot but it’s the only level that gives anywhere near a challenge (even to a n00b). Compared, again, to Virtua Fighter 5’s incredible AI scaling, this is a disappointment.
It’s a demo
There are many features the game offers outside the actual fights and some of them actually matter I suppose, like the graphics, extras are important but nothing could make up for a bad fighting engine– something I can’t tell without playing extensively with a human opponent. It’s a tough call on this one at full price– but hopefully the 2009 version will drop 10-20$ due to this release.