UFC 2009 Undisputed Review-The Octagon Will Never Be The Same Again

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When I first started hearing about UFC 2009 Undisputed I was excited. When I played the demo, I was really excited. And now that I have had a chance to play the full game I am feeling like that excitement was justified. I don’t know that another sports video game has ever so thoroughly captured the essence of the real sport better than UFC 2009 Undisputed. The game takes a sport that is violent, strategic, and unpredictable and manages to execute every single one of those characteristics brilliantly. This is not the first UFC title to hit a console, but quite honestly it is the only one that matters. While the game does have a few issues that I will discuss later, overall I think that anyone who buys this game and likes fighting games will love it.


Let the beatings begin!!

THQ has done an excellent job in their refresh of a gaming franchise that had not been done justice up until now. First off let me say that the gameplay is great. The controls have a subtle complexity to them but even the casual gamer will take to it after a few rounds and if they don’t, there are great in-depth tutorials to break it all the way down for you. You can even relive some of the great fights in UFC history in the classics section. There are a lot of things to talk about in this title so let’s look at a few.

From a roster standpoint, well let’s just say you won’t be wanting for guys to choose. UFC 2009 Undisputed went to market with an impressive roster 80 fighters (82 if you count two DLC characters). What’s more impressive is that each fighter has his own personality and style and they all feel unique, none of the characters feel like they were an afterthought and with so many fighters to handle that is no trivial task. There are 6 major primary fighting styles that each fighter can have which includes boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, kickboxing, muay thai and wrestling. These styles are placed into two categories, standup and grappling, allowing a character to have two of these abilities. The standup category allows boxing, muay thai or kickboxing and the grapple consist of Brazilian jiu jitsu, wrestling or judo.  Some of you hardcore UFC fans will find that some of UFC’s biggest names are noticeably absent such as Randy Couture and Pat Cote, but hey can’t win them all.

In UFC, you have the ability to create your own fighter and then take him into the octagon to prove his worth. The creation system is robust, perhaps a little too robust to be quite honest. You can start from a few templates to speed up the process or you can start from scratch the choose is yours. There are major sections and then several subsections of those sections where you customize everything from your player’s height and weight to their fighting styles and attributes. For folks that are used to doing it the way that say WWE Smackdown does it will be in for a little bit of a shock, but its very effective and produces some of the most realistic looking player models I have ever seen in any fighting game. In fact, my character a 6’7, 235 pound, heavyweight named Zane-Ki Gritten looks like he could be an actual fighter from the game and that allows you to get into even more because your characters looks just like the real characters vice ending up with a character who looks okay but something is just not right, your character is with them but not of them, you won’t have that problem in UFC 2009. You could spend two hours on  character creation alone and not even notice. The “create- a-fighter” even with perhaps  a few to many attributes to customize is still far and away one of the best ones I have seen to date.


That’s going to hurt!!

So once you create your ultimate fighter, there are two major things that you can do. You can either take him into career mode and see if you have what it takes to climb to the top of the rankings and win and defend the championship or you can take the fight online.

In career mode you can either create-a-fighter or you can import the one you already created(minus the attributes you assigned, so that beast you made in create-a-fighter mode is not the one that is going to step into career mode, that would be too easy). After you do that you are ready to get started. The first thing you need to do is prove you have the chops for this, so after a few words from UFC’s Dana White, you are thrown into your first fight. From there you are given tons of information about how to train and improve your skills. You will learn all about CRED and how to get it by winning fights and doing outside activities such as interviews and photo shoots just to name a few. The navigation and flow are well thought out and easy to get used too.


In stores now!!

The whole character improvement is based on stamina, how much energy you have available to do certain actions. Your stamina is based on a 100 point scale, and then you can either Train, which focuses on Strength, Speed, or Cardio or you can Spar which allows you to go at it with your training partner who will take on the fighting characteristics of your next opponent and then you are awarded points based on your performance. The farther you progress the better equipment you will get and the better sparring partners you will get which both help you improve faster.  You can even get other training camps to come in and train with you and teach you skills and moves. For the most part I like this system as its simple and straight forward and not hard to master like those tough combination’s you have to do exactly right in say a Fight Night. Every thing you do whether its training, sparring, or doing those other outside activities it uses stamina. Make sure you know when to rest. The only thing you have to keep in mind is how many weeks do you have before your next fight and depending on how much stamina an action will take to perform, can you get back to a 100% by fight night because going into a fight with less than full stamina is a recipe for disaster or in this case a nice long nap if you know what I mean.

The online is great as well but could use some work on improving the overall quality of gameplay in respect to having a smoother gameplay experience, hopefully they will continue tweaking that part. With that said though online is a blast, you can either do ranked or unranked, quick match or custom match and the next thing you know you can jump right in. Once an opponent is found you are taken to the fighter selection screen where  you can choose your fighter and depending on the configuration downloadable characters and created fighters may or may not be allowed, so you don’t have to worry about getting beat down by some guys overly juiced up custom fighter if you don’t want to. At this screen you also get information about you opponents tendencies that you can use to determine who to use against them and what strategies  might work best. These characteristics are not static, they change almost with every fight depending on how you play, so whether someone is a submission specialist or beast who loves to go for the KO, you will know before you pick your fighter and you can better counter their strengths, which I think is very valuable to have, in UFC 2009 Undisputed match-ups are everything.


Take him down and make him TAP!!

An example of this is when I was fighting with Brock Lesnar against Frank Mir. Lesnar, extremely powerful and agile but very weak against submissions. I came out swinging and landing a couple of devastating shots to the head that rocked Mir. I had him shook so I went for a takedown and completed it, but that was a bad idea because the ground is Mir’s second home. I had a half-mount, which he quickly turned into a side arm bar and submitted me. Brock is great but it was a bad match-up for him against Mir, I should have known better. The action inside the octagon is fast and furious with punches and kicks flying and some of them landing with brutal efficiently. UFC 2009 Undisputed uses some great motion graphics that causes a fighters body to fall naturally once a knockout occurs which depends on what happened and where they are so no canned knockout animations.

In the end, UFC 2009 Undisputed delivers on pretty much everything that it promises and that is rare these days. The game is not without its flaws, such as not a lot of insight into the submission system. Submissions are cool and easy to initiate but after that it really is no way to tell whether you are winning or losing a battle, so you just end up bashing buttons and it wastes a great opportunity to have submissions be strategic battles.  There also seems to be a bit of an unbalance with regards to kicks and punches meaning that at this point it seems that a high kick to the head seems to be the most devastating move in the game with the superman punch being the second most effective. That kick though seems to be able to end a fight quicker than anything else and while I will always take a win it seems to be too effective too much of time.

Then there is that annoying email system, I mean its great because it provides a lot of interesting info but it has a lot of spam too, specifically results of events that you didn’t participate in. You have to read them before you can delete them and then you can’t bulk delete a bunch of them. I am also on the fence with respect to the amount of damage done during the course of a fight, you can definitely see the damage you do but sometimes you wish you would see more like in Fight Night. Now in addressing that I will say, most fights don’t even go the full 3 or 5 rounds so I may just not be getting deep enough into the fights where you start to sustain heavy damage, most fights win or lose are over in 3 rounds or less in my experience. UFC is said to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world and this game will definitely win them a lot more fans.

UFC 2009 Undisputed definitely captures the essence of the sport and gives you the feeling that a knockout or submission is never one wrong button press away and for that I give UFC 2009 Undisputed 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you have a question about the game, leave it in the comments and we will try our best to answer it. To ask questions and get answers, go to our UFC 2009 Undisputed thread which can be found here.

Gametips: (If you want a gametip, leave your question in the comments)

  • To perform power moves like the devastating high kick and the famous “superman” punch, you need to press L1+a face button. Remember though the “superman punch” is a special move and every fighter does NOT have it.


  • To perform a submission, simply click R3 or right analog stick down. You can execute submissions from a variety of positions, not just while you are on the ground. If you time it right, when someone kicks or punches you can turn that into a submission as well as when you are getting pounded you can time it and turn that into a submission as well. Once you start a submission, repeatedly press all of the face buttons to attempt a brute force submission or rotate the right stick to attempt a technical submission. So let’s be clear, every fighter has the ability to perform submissions but players with a high submission rating can perform more exotic submissions from more positions and their likelihood of success is higher. For a detailed overview on submissions and how to do them, go to the tutorials section in the game.
  • Here is the best explanation of the submission system in UFC 2009 Undisputed that I have heard to date and it’s from Omar Kendall, a designer on Undisputed so pay attention because it’s all about stamina.

“Submissions pit two people against each other in a struggle that takes into account many factors. First, the offensive fighter’s submission skill and the type of submission being performed are considered. The higher a fighter’s Submission Offense and the more advantageous the position from which the submission is attempted, the higher the likelihood the submission will succeed. That’s why some people have noticed in our demo that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s triangle submission from mount is easier than other submissions, like the knee bar from guard or the kimura from half guard. Also, the method the offensive fighter uses to sink in the submission plays an important part. There are two ways to execute a submission – mashing the face buttons or rotating the right stick, a maneuver we call The Shine. In all cases, The Shine is going to be a better method to sink in a submission. Make sure you rotate that stick fast! The faster you rotate the stick, the higher your chance of success.

It’s the defensive side and how players deal with submissions that I think confuses a lot of people. Similarly to the offensive fighter, a defensive fighter has stats that influence how successful he is at getting out of submissions. But in the defensive fighter’s case, they have two different stats – Strength and Submission Defense – and which state is used depends on which type of escape is performed. Brute force escapes, which are performed by rapidly mashing the face buttons, only take into account Strength. The other type of submission escape, Technical Escapes, which are also executed via The Shine, only look at a defensive fighter’s Submission Defense. As a defender, your best bet is to know which of these two stats is higher and to utilize the escape suited to that higher stat.

There is another extremely important factor in the success rate of a submission, and that is the defender’s energy level. I have seen many people incorrectly assert that the best way to execute a submission is to weaken your opponent by beating him up. This is simply not true! Energy is not lowered by hurting your opponent; stamina is the answer. Energy is only depleted when your opponent performs actions; running, striking, transitions, etc. all temporarily lower energy levels, and the lower your opponent’s energy level, the more vulnerable he is to submissions. We didn’t want fighters coming out and submitting people instantly, simply because they have a higher Submission Offense. We feel this would be very frustrating for players (and yes, there are fighters in the game with higher Submission Offense than Shogun and lower Submission Defense than Chuck Liddell, so there will be matchups where submissions are a bit easier than others). For example, Brock Lesnar has extremely high Strength and Standing Striking Offense, but even he can’t just one-punch KO everyone in the game at will. It just wouldn’t be fun, and we just don’t think it’d be fun with submissions, either.

My suggestion would be for submission fighters to pay close attention to what actions their opponents are performing to see when a submission opportunity presents itself. If you land a takedown and your opponent immediately starts spamming transition attempts or has just delivered a flurry of strikes and left himself gassed, this means he’s using up a lot of energy and thus will be vulnerable to a submission. However, if the opponent is playing a calmer strategy and is perhaps only attempting to protect himself while throwing carefully timed strikes, submitting isn’t going to be a very viable option.” Original source here.

  • Remember to play to your characters strengths, if they are an excellent striker try to stay on your feet but if they are a good submission person try to get your opponent on the ground where you have the advantage and can do some real damage.
  • To perform a slam from a grapple if your character can do it, grab them by pressing forward on the right analog stick and then hold L1 and then push the right sick up and down and left and right.
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Lorenzo Winfrey

Lorenzo Winfrey

Editor-In-Chief at ZoKnowsGaming
I am the Co-Ceo of DLT Digital Media. We are a company that is focused on developing new and innovative web properties in addition to developing WordPress based web sites for others. But before I was all that, I was a gamer.
Lorenzo Winfrey