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PS2 Review - 'UFC: Sudden Impact'

by Agustin on May 17, 2004 @ 4:31 a.m. PDT

Authentic fighting action is coming back to PlayStation 2 with UFC: Sudden Impact. This mixed martial arts fighter brings with it more realistic damage models than ever before, with lifelike bruises and cuts. Fighters can be created from scratch in the greatly enhanced Story Mode, while the Tournament Mode allows for up to eight human and/or computer controlled fighters to compete in elimination matches.

Genre: Sports
Developer : Opus Corp.
Publisher : Global Star Software
Release Date : April 12, 2004

To make a series successful, regardless of the medium whereupon it is released, change is required, even in small amounts. The Final Fantasy games see a near 180 in terms of differences between one game to the next, and are extremely successful. The longevity of the series cannot be measured. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Pokemon series has stagnated somewhat in terms of gameplay and graphics, but the developer does add lots of new locations and pokemon to catch and battle with, and the popularity of the series goes on. When the first UFC game released on the Dreamcast four years ago, it was one of the better third party efforts on the console, and was extremely well received. However, each subsequent release has simply rehashed every established element presented in the first game with little to no innovation and only a handful of substantial differences – usually these differences being a negative, such as an actual step down in graphics. Sudden Impact for the Playstation 2 continues this downward spiral, and is easily the worst game in the series so far. It’s hard to imagine that this series once had such potential.

Sudden Impact plays like every UFC game before it. Each of the four face buttons controls one of your fighter’s limbs. By combining multiple buttons, you can perform a grappling move, a takedown, a submission move, or other assorted techniques, depending on which buttons you use, when you use them, and what your fighter’s style is. If you’re on the ground, you can move and attack from a few different positions, and go in for various submissions and counters. This is all standard UFC so far. The one addition made specifically for Sudden Impact is a focus on “fence positioning”: when backing an opponent into cage that surrounds the ring (UFC rings are medium-sized octagons surrounded by a cage), going in for any special maneuver will put you into one of several positions where your opponent’s head is pressed against the cage. The chance to pull something like this off doesn’t come up very often, so it doesn’t really add much to stray from the already-established UFC “feel”.

The fights are a bit sped up in Sudden Impact, and I’m not sure why the developer chose to do this. The game had the formula for speed down since the first game, and while I’m screaming for change here, this is one of the few features that shouldn’t have been touched. All it does is remove much of the strategy that players are used to being able to implement – about half of the countering strategy normally put to use can be thrown around in Sudden Impact. So out of two “improvements” in Sudden Impact, one of them is nearly useless, and the other halfway destroys the depth the series has always maintained up to this point.

Sudden Impact has every standard mode that each of its predecessors have carried before it, most importantly the progressive championship mode, and a standard versus mode. There are 40 fighters in the game, almost all of them familiar faces. Sudden Impact has a new career mode which lets you create your own fighter from a list of prerendered models. You train him to become a UFC fighter. The backstory for each character is the same: your character is a street thug who is recruited by a UFC trainer. You have three years to make it into the UFC. You choose a dojo to train at, each one specializing in a different fighting style. The training is executed so poorly, I’d be surprised if many people could sit through the entire thing. Tips appear at the bottom of the screen that are not useful for anything that the manual (or your common sense) can’t already tell you. The mode is based on performing specific challenges, most of which are extremely simple and boring. There aren’t many of these challenges to chose from, either. They repeat year after year, and if you didn’t want to pull all your hair out with boredom the first time through a challenge, the second or third times will have you throwing your Playstation 2 out the window.

One of the flagship features of the first UFC game on the Dreamcast was its graphics. It was a wonderful looking game, especially for a Dreamcast release. The Playstation 2 versions have, for one reason or another, looked slightly worse than the Dreamcast game did, but never anything too noticeable or annoying. Sudden Impact is actually the worst looking UFC game yet, despite being the newest one to hit store shelves. The fighters look largely the same as they always have, except the faces seem to be lower in resolution, and the body types are much more exaggerated at times – not always to a normal, human scale. The same fighting animations are used here with the exception of the few new fighting positions that were added. The animations are standard for the most part, but some seem a bit off and choppier than normal. If this released three years ago, it would have been fine, but we’ve been playing the same game for years now, and when the only differences in graphics are a few (if minute) downgrades, there’s something seriously wrong with the direction a series is going in.

The audio is, as with most everything else in Sudden Impact, a simple rehash of the past. Standard theme songs play as fighters enter the ring. Fighters grunt. There are somewhat muffled sounds of impacts from punches and kicks. The ring announcing of Bruce Buffer is just as flat and boring as always.

As I’ve stated so many times already, Sudden Impact is just a slightly damaged version of the game we’ve been playing since the waning days of Sega’s Dreamcast. It does sport a few additions (all of which are either useless or serve to further tarnish the reputation of the series), but it has a few downgrades also. If you don’t own any UFC games yet, I would recommend you pick up either the Dreamcast version, or one of the earlier Playstation 2 releases, because Sudden Impact is the worst UFC game to date.

Score: 4.0/10

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