A few months ago, we finally bought a PS3. This allowed me to play UFC Undisputed 2010, a game that (as a huge MMA fan) I had been itching to get my hands on for quite some time.
True story. I remember being a 12-year old kid, watching UFC IV and thinking to myself, “They should make a UFC video game!” I remember drawing out a ‘blueprint’ on computer paper for what the game would look like; I didn’t get much further than the title screen and character select, but from what I remember, it looked pretty fantastic. Each fighter would have a button-mashing finishing move or submission, there would be a tournament bracket (in those days, you had to fight up to three times in a night), announcers, introductions, the whole nine yards. It would be released on the Sega Genesis to critical acclaim, catapulting the Ultimate Fighting Championship into the mainstream and changing the way video games would be created from that point forward.
As it turned out, I mostly just ripped off Mortal Kombat, but I think I was still way ahead of my time. 15 years later, and UFC Undisputed 2010 looks exactly the way I had envisioned it back in 1994. I am also about to argue that it’s the most realistic video gaming experience I have ever had.
One of the cool things about Undisputed (and most games in general nowadays), is that they turn the reigns over to you when it comes to creating a character from scratch. From skin tone to hair follicles to specific tattoos, you’re now able to literally put yourself into the game. As a kid playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!, I fantasized about a game where I was the main character (admittedly, Little Mac looked a lot like me already). These days, it’s the norm.
For the first two hours after turning on Undisputed ’10, I meticulously stressed over every angstrom, nuance and subtle characteristic of my virtual doppelganger. He looked exactly like me in every way. 5’10”. 155 pounds. The palest possible skin setting. The slightest hint of abdominal muscles. Sideburns that compensate for the fact that one of my ears is lower than the other. SimRyan was a work of art.
I was so excited and proud of the creation I had concocted. Not being a hardcore gamer, this was a rare opportunity to see myself immersed in a virtual world, and while I felt like an old man by being blown away by this, I wasn’t about to forget why I bought the game in the first place. SimRyan needed to fight someone, and now. I immediately placed him in a match against 155lb. powerhouse (and one of my favorite fighters) Clay ‘The Carpenter’ Guida, in what I could only assume would be a fight for the ages.
Here’s what I forgot to do.
I was so intensely focused on creating SimRyan as a perfect replicant of myself, that I neglected to go to the screen marked ‘Attributes’ and assign him with, you know, any sort of fighting skills whatsoever. Punching power? Submission defense? Awareness and Speed? Nothing. Zero points. A newborn lamb had more evolutionary mechanics than the clone of myself I just placed in a Mixed Martial Arts throwdown.
I wasn’t aware of this until the bell rang and the fight started, which by then was already too late for poor, defenseless SimRyan. I shambled towards the center of the Octagon like a drunk in a taffy vat, my arms drooped to either side and my feet shuffling like I had just gotten dumped. SimRyan made brief eye contact with his opponent, but because he wasn’t assigned any sort of fighting instincts by yours truly, he simply stood there and greeted his fellow gladiator, woefully oblivious as to what was about to transpire.
Fortunately, it was over quickly. SimRyan threw two of the saddest, limpest-wristed punches in the history of MMA towards Guida’s chest, and was promptly uppercut so hard that he was nearly blasted through the cage of the Octagon. His mouthpiece flew into the audience, blood was everywhere, and the announcers acted like they had just seen the first documented murder in the history of the sport. My guy was apparently so injured that the physicians had to airlift him to the hospital before the official decision was announced. He was nowhere to be seen at the post fight announcement, which I later found out is very atypical unless your CPU happens to be dead.
SimRyan retired from the UFC with a record of 0-1 that night. His whereabouts are currently unknown, but my guess is that he’s in a rehab facility somewhere, feverishly hammering a square peg into a round hole, while nurses shake their heads and silently weep for his future.
It is for these reasons that UFC Undisputed is the most realistic game I have ever played. Not because of the HD graphics, not because of the 5.1 surround sound, and not because of the physics and statistics.
Nope, Undisputed is the most realistic game I’ve ever played because this is exactly what would have happened had it been me in there.