A varied training regiment and more expansive career path make the dream of becoming the next great virtual UFC champion possible.
Respected journalist Malcolm Gladwell came up with an interesting concept entitled "The 10,000 Hour Rule" that stated in order to be really good at something, you have to invest at least 10,000 hours into it. Those people who have reached that goal can lay claim as the best at their respected professions. The best athletes manage to hit this mark early in their lives, but others aren't that lucky. Thankfully, in THQ's upcoming UFC Undisputed 3, creating a virtual fighter and becoming the best won't take you 10,000 hours.
The Career mode has seen a number of changes and adjustments to ensure that the experience doesn't drag on too long. While UFC 3 still lets you create a customizable character, this time around, preexisting fighters can be thrown back in time and given the opportunity to rewrite history. If you're a fan of a particular underdog fighter, now you have the opportunity to change his career and make him a champion.
Regardless of the fighter you choose, your career starts off the same. At the start, you'll be asked to complete in three tutorials: Standup, Clinch, and Ground. Your performance in these will dictate the fighter's initial stats. Once that's all said and done, your character begins in the World Fighting Alliance as an up-and-coming fighter. There, you'll face off against other wannabe MMA fighters in the hopes of catching the eyes of the UFC. Your time in the WFA can vary based on your performance. In as few as four fights, you can fight for a shot at the title and a potential call-up to the UFC. Winning the WFA title opens the door to the UFC, but if you think your fighter still needs additional training, you can hold off and join the next time an offer is made. But once in the UFC, the real magic starts and the highs and lows of an MMA fighter are shown.
Some of the other changes in the Career mode include a wider array of training options. In regular training, there are eight drill exercises, as well as six different sparring challenges. Each of the 14 training minigames focus on different aspects of your character's skill sets, and mixing up which ones to work on will factor heavily into your success.
This isn't where your training ends. In fact, there are two additional training options available. The first of these is Camp Sessions. The development team has included six real-world fighting academies, such as the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, CA and Greg Jackson's Gym in Albuquerque, NM. There, you can spar with other fighters, level up your character's skill on particular move sets, and learn new ones. Because these are real gyms, the actual fighters who frequent them will be among those your character interacts with in training. On top of that, the gym you choose to be a part of will become your entourage and the trainers will be by your side at fights.
The final training aspect is Game Plans. Just like in real life, fighters will go into an upcoming fight with a plan of attack. This lets you choose from eight different approaches your fighter should use going into the fight, such as focusing on counterattacks, working the clinch, or improving your ground and pound. Prior to the fight, your character takes part in a sparring exercise, and success here will give you a significant edge when it comes to facing off against an opponent in the ring.
One of the facets gone from Career mode is computer-generated cutscenes. In their place, THQ and the UFC partnered up to create a series of miniclips with footage from real fights and interviews with current UFC fighters. These clips highlight specific moments in a fighter's career, including discussing his first professional fight, first loss, and his training regiments.
Having a successful Career mode in place is important in ensuring that fans of the sport and the series are kept entertained. The changes and additions made to Career mode, including the ability to fight in Pride, should do a great job of keeping you playing for long periods of time. If playing through the life of a fighter isn't what you crave, then there are a number of additional options, such as Title Defense, Ultimate Fights mode, and the ability to create customized UFC events. UFC Undisputed 3 will be released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in North America on February 14.